It appears to be a massive contradiction to suggest that eSports are yet to firmly establish themselves in popular consciousness, given the monumental audiences that the leading eSport competitions attract. However, for much of the general population, the notion of an eSport remains mysterious and confusing.
The mass acceptance of eSports was in part inhibited by the name. The term ‘eSports’ provoked furious rebuttals from those who could not contemplate video gaming as a sport, while dedicated gamers pointed to their rigorous training and wide skillsets in response.
While there is no denying that eSports don’t require the same level of physical exertion as the likes of football and rugby, the strategic elements and the win/lose/draw outcomes mean that there are many parallels between real and virtual versions of sports. If eSports share many similarities with traditional sports, then it logically follows that its breakthrough into popular culture will be powered by drawing further on those commonalities.
Here are three ways that eSports can continue to make inroads into wider society in the same manner as traditional sports.
Names like Serena Williams, Lionel Messi and LeBron James transcend sport through their prominence in advertising, while their sporting achievements are so substantial that they are classed as general news. Personality is also key in gaining that crossover appeal. While eSports stars are firmly established in their own world, it can be argued that there are no household names to emerge from any form of eSports.
Kuro Takhasomi has received over $4 million in his career to be the highest-earning eSports star, which is certainly a newsworthy sum of money. Perhaps as a consequence of the use of gamer tags, with Takhasomi known as KuroKy in the eSports world, even the highest earners are yet to receive celebrity status. It will take a truly groundbreaking feat or an irresistible personality for eSports to conceive its first major star.
The increasing availability of eSports betting markets has played a significant role in allowing easy comparisons with the sporting world. It is not just the leading sporting events that feature several betting markets. Punters have the option to bet on lower-league football or tennis matches played to a crowd of one person.
More eSports markets are becoming available to cater for growing demand. 888Sport allows punters to bet on markets covering popular eSports such as CS:GO and Dota 2, while the site’s position as an NJ Sportsbook that accept PayPal helps to bring eSports markets to a wider audience. An increasing selection of eSports markets, in addition to bookmakers allowing quick and safe payment methods like PayPal, will help to reinforce CS:GO and Dota 2 competitions as veritable sports.
The world’s most popular sports are well-established, with clearly defined rules that we now take for granted. eSports are starting from a position of relative weakness, but there is one distinct advantage: eSports offer a viewing experience like no other.
Many physical sports share similar characteristics, but eSports often transport players and audiences to a fantasy land with its own rules and features. While millions tune in to online streams and thousands attend the top events, achieving a prime spot on a television channel would be pivotal in exposing new people to the distinctive worlds of eSports. Also, the genre of eSports offers unmatched variety, ranging from sporting simulations like FIFA to military affairs like Call of Duty.
eSports clearly have all of the ingredients to achieve the same level of popularity as traditional sports, so its advance into wider culture merely feels like a matter of timing.