Does eSports deserve all the diss?
The life of a pro gamer is filled with rigorous training and demanding tournament schedules.
Before I tell you about all the diss and hate eSports has been getting, let me give you a brief introduction about eSports first. Esports also known as electronic sports is basically like any other sport but instead of getting involved physically to play the sport, it is played competitively using video games. Different teams of professional players are formed and they compete with each other for an absurd amount of prize pool. There are team-based competitions as well as individual-based. Millions of people spend a profuse amount of their time and money watching and taking part in these online games.
In today’s world of digitalization and tech-revolution, eSports is becoming a massive business in itself. The eSports ecosystem is already a whopping $1.8 billion industry with the potential to surpass $3.8 billion by 2025 which shows that the growth rate is more than 70% over four years. It has over 220 million fans with expectations to garner 100 million new fans over the same time frame. With all of this money around, it makes sense that there’d be big prizes for winners.
So why is eSports getting all the hate? Firstly, people think that eSports is not a “real sport”. That is because it is believed that for a game to be considered as a sport, it must involve putting physical stress and work on your body which aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills. Most people even say that sportsmen who suffer several injuries and struggles shouldn’t be compared to gamers.
But I strongly disagree. Those people who have thrown or caught a football, run the length of a field or tried accurately shooting a ball understand that what those athletes are doing is not a normal feat. Same with any other sport, they have a baseline of how the game is played and then can recognize the hard work and time, the professional athletes have put in to compete at the highest levels. You don’t have to know the rules of football or basketball to know that it’d be hard to throw something that far or run that fast or jump that high.
When those same spectators look at eSports, they just see “kids playing video games” because all they see is flashy cartoony games. What they don’t recognize is the countless hours the professional players have put into the game to master each skill and develop themselves as team players just like in any other traditional sports. According to research, the top-tier players who compete on the global scale have spent about 15,000 hours which equivalents to about two years(approx..) of playing that single game and honing their skills.
To give you a brief, if you are training yourself to become an eSports player, you have to select a game in which you are passionate about and want to compete, have to stay away from distractions, and practice continuously on game-related skills for 8–9 hours a day, then take out another 4–6 hours to watch the matches you have played and to know what can you improve on, what new strategy can be used in different circumstances and play loads of practice matches with your team to execute the strategy perfectly so there isn’t going to be any mistake during the playoffs with other teams. If one of the team members underperform, their chances of winning are jeopardized. So, each player on the team must be well-coached and there shouldn’t be any stones left unturned.
Talking about physical injuries and sacrifices, there’s the neck, back elbow pains, dry eyes, and eye fatigue which is very common among professional players whose career and livelihood revolves around eSports. This can be very mentally draining for some as during matches you require a continuously high level of concentration so that you don’t miss anything. The life of a pro gamer is filled with rigorous training and demanding tournament schedules. Over time, this can result in problems like burnout unless players are diligent in staying healthy.
Board games like chess are also sports where the sportsperson does not use his/her physical powers but the mental calculations and strategies to win the game. So, are eSports and chess on the same level as sports? Probably. They both have to do with mentally training yourself along with the skill, practice, strategies, teamwork, mindfulness, etc. you require to not only participate but win in the tournaments. In my view, the amount of training, dedication, and blood you burn in traditional sports and in eSports is nearly the same.
Older people tend to hate on eSports more than other age groups. One of the main reasons is because they don’t understand how video games work. And since they are aging, old people typically don’t like learning new things which makes it easy to think something is boring when you don’t get it. On top of that, video games have always been viewed as taboo until recent years. I think after a generation or two when most people know the basics of video games is when eSports will blow up.
In non-traditional societies, people are earning huge sums of money by playing games and streaming them on various platforms like YouTube and Twitch. There are kids under 16 years of age who have earned millions by playing games. One example would be “H1ghsky1” (Real Name: Patrick) is only 15 and has a net worth of $400,000. Some people who lost their job and started streaming video games have succeeded in life and now earn millions. This shows that eSports has also helped in the economy and job creation.
Another reason why eSports is dissed on is that people criticize the fact that gamers earn millions by not doing “hard work” while the entire world needs to toil from 9 to 5. But that isn’t true. Playing games for a living gets you absolutely nothing until you’ve played that game for thousands of hours to perfect your skills or you are just born talented.
Recently an eSports team from Nepal known as Abrupt Slayers bagged $40,000 in PUBG Mobile Pro League (PMPL) South Asian tournament. This opens a portal for all Nepali citizens to participate and compete on a global scale as well. In the near future, I can see Nepali gamers competing in global tournaments for millions of dollars as a prize pool. And finally, No! I don’t think eSports deserves any of the diss and hate it has been getting rather it should be treated with respect like any other sports.
Debaditya Shrestha is a BBA 1st semester student at Kathmandu University School of Management.
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