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Competitive gaming and eSports in 2018.
This is eSports in all of its glory! Courtesy of Red Bull.

Competitive Gaming: A Look Back On 2018

As we move into 2019, it’s time to recap on competitive gaming.

I witnessed competitive gaming and eSports as it became a very, very heated topic in 2018. I recall the CS:GO eLeague when it first began. As a hardcore CS:GO player, I took to it with lightning speed. I never once stopped to consider the consequences of what would soon come next. CS:GO soon lost clout and many other ancillary games would slowly but surely enter the circuit. I was amazed by the sheer size of eSports. Along with that, I was amazed by the cult following many of these teams had. Furthermore, I was amazed by the attitudes illustrated by players who find themselves sucked into such an energetic experience.

You would think it would be a matter of team favorites: people will only have certain expectations for their favorite team to win. Upon further review, I have found that eSports are just as dangerous as it is entertaining. We have all heard the rumors of Overwatch players abusing amphetamines in order to play at their peak. We have also seen live streaming platforms taking over, often revealing more than they should.

Competitive gaming in its prime. Courtesy of Engadget
Competitive gaming in its prime. Courtesy of Engadget

Bad Blood

One example was a recent case involving an unnamed individual who was supposedly caught on camera beating up his girlfriend. This was done while engaging in a live streaming event. It sent shivers across the competitive gaming community, and I feel that the industry is “stepping away” from reality more than it should.

As of now, the eSports industry is worth $906 million, with expected growth to be $1.65 billion in the year 2021. What amazes me is the length of time in which eSports have existed, coming from a small following and a self-value of a mere $130 million in 2012. Keep in mind, this does not showcase industry “worth,” but it indicates the revenue generated by eSports. It is growing at a massive rate! This includes more than just ticket sales…

This also includes many gadgets being issued by gaming hardware companies worldwide.

We see companies such as Alienware maintaining a high market share of gaming computers (often priced at over $2,000 dollars), as well as colored, highly-responsive keyboards and devices that cost upward of $200 (of which, to be perfectly honest, pose no extra functionality than the keyboard on my laptop or the mouse that I bought from Office Depot). In turn, my point here is that though eSports are becoming a world within themselves, we must be ready to accept the fact that this may be a dangerous path for the gaming community.

Far too many people for comfort in competitive gaming. Courtesy of Geek.com
Far too many people for comfort. Courtesy of Geek.com

Reality Is Fading

TheGuardian.com posted an article in 2017 that serves as an example of this. As eSports grows, many Asian cultures of a collectivist nature (including South Korea) are taking the idea of “winning” as more than just a fun experience. In fact, it is a necessity. Studios are set up with 28-inch monitors, holding what looks like refugee camps crammed with dozens of players. They have only one purpose: to bring South Korea a win. It is a win as plastic as the toys they create and distribute into our home country.

Personally, this scares me. It shows that competitive gaming is becoming somewhat political. It is crossing over into “sweatshops” that pay their “employees” very little. Management takes most of the income made from the many wins and endorsements coveted by these young players. At the age of twenty-one, they are released back into the world. Why? Simple: an inability to cognitively process the gaming experiences as fast as those who are of a younger age, and what will they have to show for it?

They skipped past college; if such an opportunity was ever offered to them. Instead, they were forced into competitive gaming to bring their “country a victory.” This is not what competitive gaming is about. This is not what we want the sport to be represented as. We want to see players having fun, as is the case with gaming!

Be Careful

In turn, be careful where we tread with this subject. I recently used “eSports” as a term rather than “esports.” The simple fact that I capitalized the “S” sparked a heated discussion on Twitter, covering over 99 comments that bordered on textbook insanity. The fact that these gamers were so upset by a single letter shows that we need to take a step back. We need to realize that this is a fun and entertaining experience rather than an actual “sport,” despite what we wish to call it. Otherwise, we are going to expel the value of competitive gaming.

The last thing an endorser wants is petty, irrational behavior.

Be careful, and continue playing.

Competitive gaming player. Courtesy of WIBW
Competitive gaming player. Courtesy of WIBW

But Be Wary!

Just be wary of how far you take things. The gaming world is headed down a dangerous path if we do not begin to control ourselves from acting out foolishly. We have all been “trolled” on, but how is this okay? When you examine the facts, competitive gaming and eSports are reliant on companies that are providing their names on jerseys and the backings of monitors. If the players representing their good name act out or becomes the targets of the common media for something done or said, that company will not be pleased.

It is called “product positioning,” and it represents endorsement based on exposure. In fact, it is stated that a majority of the value of all eSports come from these companies, and if we do not begin to position ourselves in a manner similar to football or basketball (where negative behavior leads to expulsion), we are not going to be seeing much from the competitive gaming realm in the long run. Read more about bad eSports behavior here!