The esports industry started around two decades ago with StarCraft, Quake, and Counter-Strike tournaments. Initially, very few companies saw the potential of competitive games and tournaments had tiny prize pools that didn’t attract much attention.
But as esports and gaming started to take over the world, it quickly became obvious to visionaries that electronic sports would become a global phenomenon one day.
Fast forward 20 years and the esports industry has surpassed $1 billion per year in revenues. More than half a billion people know about esports and many of them compete regularly in games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft 2, and many more.
Titles like Diablo 2, Warcraft 3, and Half-Life were played by millions back in the early 2000s. These games were still far away from what we call esports today. But they offered the foundation for more competitive titles to be developed.
These days, games like CS:GO feature dozens of tournaments each year, many of which offer prizes of $1 million. At the same time, activities like CS:GO game betting with bitcoin are becoming increasingly popular.
Why Esports Are So Appealing to Young People
The need to compete and express ourselves in creative ways is deeply rooted in us. When we are young, nothing excites us more than competing. And the smarter we are, the more we feel like we could enter a competition and win it using our wits.
Another key quality of esports is that they are not only fun to play. They’re also fun to watch and can be more entertaining than movies. In that sense, an esports event can be just as thrilling as a rock concert. In fact, it’s often even more fun to attend.
The ups and downs of every match, the experience of watching your favorite team win, and other similar factors can easily create emotion and meaning in a person’s life. After a while, you get hooked. And the possibilities are endless.
Games like Dota 2 feature more than 100 heroes and each of them is unique. The team versus team format with 5 players on each side further increases their complexity and, naturally, their replayability.
Esports Mostly Compete With Other Esports, Not Other Forms of Entertainment
If you ask anyone who has uninstalled League of Legends why they did it, they will never say that they got bored. Nobody gets bored of these games. In 99% of cases, people get angry that they lost and that they can’t find a way to win frequently enough to rank up.
If allowed, teenagers will play competitive video games all day. That’s how good these games are. Your eyes are glued to the screen and all you want is to improve your skills, reach a higher rank, and impress your friends with your skins. How could esports possibly fail, when they satisfy so many human needs and desires?
League of Legends is played by more than 100 million people. Other games, like CS:GO, and Valorant, have dozens of millions of players too. Very few esports are losing players and those that do, usually lose them to a different esport.
Why University Esports Will Become a Global Phenomenon
The esports industry is growing at an impressive rate. Each year, tens of millions of people join their friends and compete in one or more of the existing games.
The 18-year-olds of today were born into the age of the Internet and online gaming. Many of them are so accustomed to competitive games that much of their education has come from them.
Universities, regardless of how you want to look at them, are businesses. They sell educational services and therefore, they need to gain new customers. There’s a lot of competition between them and their marketing departments need to come up with genuine ways of creating something of value that potential students will appreciate.
A University that offers esports classes or leagues is naturally more appealing than one that doesn’t, at least for a gamer. You can more easily visualize yourself going there if you know in advance that you’ll be able to engage in activities that you enjoy. If all else fails, at least you’ve had fun competing with your classmates.
The Situation in the US
In the United States, collegiate esports is already a big phenomenon. More and more Universities offer esports-related activities each year. Gaming communities often grow out of these initiatives and help to attract new students to the Universities that built them.
The only issue is that at the moment, very few people in academia understand esports well enough to get personally involved in organizing activities related to them. But that doesn’t mean that the management of an institution can’t hire people to assist them in creating leagues and content.
Going to University is, for many young people, primarily a social experience. And what better way to create relationships between them than to give them the opportunity to compete in the same team or against each other in the games they’ve mastered over the years?
Esports programs are starting to receive more funding and they will certainly scale up as the years go by because they produce results. When a collegiate league is created, the big advantage for skilled players is that they will finally get to be the best at something. If they would play against the world’s best, they might lose every time. But locally, it’s a lot more fun to compete when you have an edge.
It’s undeniable that people feel more attracted to environments in which they feel like they can contribute or distinguish themselves. If you’re great at Mathematics, you will want to compete in Math contests. If you’re good at StarCraft, the idea of participating in a StarCraft tournament and pretending to be a casual player is very appealing.Right now, in the US, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) offers membership to around 170 colleges and universities, as long as they have their own esports leagues. This model will be developed and scaled up in every region of the world where esports is part of the culture: Europe, Southeast Asia, etc.