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Posted at: Jun 9, 2018, 1:06 AM; last updated: Jun 9, 2018, 1:06 AM (IST)

eSports is the name of the game

Competitive video gaming is no longer the preserve of couch potatoes
eSports is the name of the game

Gaurav Kanthwal

Gaming is no longer a leisure time activity now. It is a competitive sport, or rather say, eSports now. Just like there are matches for sports like football, cricket, hockey, basketball, chess and shooting, youngsters these days compete with each while playing video games. They do so individually, and in team events as well. Conservative estimates say that as many as 400 million people worldwide indulge in gaming as a competitive sport.

About 150 million people play eSports at a higher level, and approximately 2.2 billion are just gamers. Traditional media houses taking it seriously.

Pokemon, Japanese series of video games developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo as part of the Pokémon media franchise, has gone beyond video games into the world of animated television shows, movies, comic books and toys.

FIFA 2017, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), RTA (Real Time Attack) and League of Legends are quite popular eSports. While the world is gearing up for FIFA World Cup in June but in another world, a younger one at that, already immersed itself in the FIFA eClub World Cup in Paris.

If someone shrugs off gaming as the bastion of couch potatoes, think again. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in October 2017 said competitive eSports could be considered a sporting activity. If someone tells you that eSports will be a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games, better take his word seriously. It will be included in the official sporting programme of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Competitive video gaming will be a demonstration sport in the Asian Games in Jakarta in August this year — League of Legends, Starcraft II, Hearthstone, and Pro Evolution Soccer have been shortlisted for it. There are two mobiles games as well — Clash Royale and Arena of Valor. Video competitive gaming made its debut in Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Turkmenistan in 2017.

There are reports that eSports athletes have already formed their professional teams and are training for national and international titles. Like traditional sports franchisees, eSports promoters in the US and South Korea have built dedicated facilities with top-of-the-end gadgets and softwares stacked in it. They also feel the need to hire coaches, support staff, nutritionist, sports psychologist and provide gym memberships to their athletes.

“It’s similar to pistol shooting or chess as the brain is important. There are good reasons to call it sports,” says Jan Pommer, Electronic Sports League (ESL) head of Team and Federation relations.

The number of eSports enthusiasts is increasing by 10 per cent every year. Eighty percent of eSport enthusiasts are younger than 35 years. The sport can be followed it on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook. Adding to the clutter is Twitch — world’s leading video platform and a community for gamers. International sports channels like ESPN are getting on the bandwagon, knowing fully well that this is the best way to hook on the young generation which watches TV sparingly.


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