Video games have come a long way since the early binary instalments, the arcade system, and the first multiplayer trials at M.I.T. Today’s gaming consoles are basically to portals to infinite social and entertainment worlds, just like ‘social media’.
As science and technology transforms the way we live, the way we vote, and the way we do business – it is pivotal to resist inclinations that it will not transform the way we play.
E-sports is all about play, fun, networking and video gaming – It is competitive and collaborative video gaming. In my previous update, here, I impart ‘benefits of gaming and contemporary gaming console’, such as Xbox One and PlayStation4.
What is esports?
Once upon a time! Players converged at an agreed location, and on a specified date, to enjoy gaming. Today, players can coordinate and enjoy competitive and collaborative video-gaming from the comfort of their sofas.
The phenomenon is enabled by technology-adoption maturity and connected mediated-technologies underpinned by the Web. This new way of organising and enjoying video games paved the way for electronic sports or sporting – popularly known as e-sports.
Esports or electronic sports is competitive multiplayer online gaming. Esports can be staged in front of a live audience and millions more online, as epitomised during 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea. 2018’s Winter Olympics also manifest its capacity for reconciliation as North and South Korea put the past behind them to enjoy the event as a whole.
As a form of sport, esports has been brewing in the background for decades, and it is far from a new or emerging. However, before imparting with economic benefits of esports, I believe its imperative to open-up on the barriers that hindered its manifestation, below:
The Barriers: Research, market penetration & tech-adoption maturity
Game developers, such as, Microsoft and Sony, have invested heavily in connected, immersive, and ubiquitous gaming constructs with relational themes. Similarly to social media, people are connecting, learning, and innovating at a universal scale. While brands capitalised on the emerging trend, it was impractical for science due to the connected and multiverse dimensions in gaming, due to science protocols, and due to parenting. Nowadays, researchers include parents and guardians in their investigations and data collection processes.
Further, stereotyping in the past meant social exclusion, as knowledgeable players and specific genres were omitted from the discussion. This meant that while scholars continued to recruit and remove people from the spaces that define them for studies, a parallel form of community was in development and brands could be part of the development.
2. Market penetration and data
While brands and multinationals transformed new audiences for competitive advantage, science and academia could not due to research protocols, evidence, and parenting. What we’ve witnessed so far are early penetration strategies by brands and organisations to establish a presence and voice in gaming communities. This, through hyper-branding, sponsorship, and advertising initiatives.
3. Technology-adoption maturity
Technology-adoption maturity simply refers to the period in human evolution associated with a holistic adoption and use of technology in daily life.
The digital-non-digital or social-technology mix magnifies complexities with contemporary gaming research and applied sciences. Gaming industry integrates unique and diverse industry sets, as well as, sophisticated computer mediated-communication infrastructures, held together by AI, the Cloud, and the Web. According to Gartner, gaming industry is on course to becoming the largest single contributor to the entertainment and education industries.
The benefits Of E-sports
1. Economic benefits
According to British Broadcasting Corporation, e-sports will generate more than £1bn in global revenue and almost double its global audience to nearly 600 million people by 2020. In a corresponding national report, Ukie estimates an increase in UK audience to a staggering 8 million by 2019.
The anticipated and confirmed inclusion of e-sports at 2018 winter Olympic epitomise the national benefit of esports. The immediate economic benefits of esports fall under: job creation; international relations; learning infrastructures; and new tourism.
2. Social Benefits
Like most sports events, e-sports impacts every level and culture that co-habitats the society. At a local level, e-sports may facilitate cohesion and integration in deprived areas of the society. Video games are one of the favourite pastime activity for both children and adults.
Esports can play a pivotal role in sewing broken social fabric and bridging cultural and national barriers, as players can interact directly and learn in self-configured spaces with some freedom of operation.
3. Research and applied science benefits
Online gaming has been contributing to science for decades, and we also have our own game/citizen science project (Galaxy Zoo) at the University of Portsmouth. The manifestation of e-sports in non-game context is particularly beneficial to science because it brings distinct industries together. Many of these industries would otherwise not enter any form of discussions if not for the maturity of technology-adoption.
An international coalition of Game studies scholars have openly called for new and connected research methods that reflect the complexity and ambiguity of contemporary living and playing.
Future of e-sports
Though esports present unique opportunities to engage and capture an untapped audience, it is not a substitute for traditional and outdoor play. E-sports is a unique way to reach excluded young people. In the near future, we should expect to see some e-sporting in colleges, higher education institutions, and in the workplace.
Gaming and e-sports are not substitutes for outdoor play and real sports. See my e-Learning industry article: Online Gaming Safety: Top Tips For Parents, Guardians, And Players on eLearning industry’s blog.