ESports, or Electronic Sports, is the new medium of entertainment. It’s been a sort of niche environment until quite recently. Spanning from Space Invaders tournaments in the 80’s to the League of Legends LCS, eSports is giving people a chance to play games as their job.
It’s not all fun and games though. It takes a lot of work to be involved with eSports, even as it is now. There are so many lines of work that go into eSports these days and there are more to be had down the line. There are casters, journalists, managers, sponsors, and even the gamers themselves.
Along with the League of Legends community, lots of people have gotten in to watching eSports. LoL itself opened up a lot of opportunity for a great deal of people to have a job and make money with eSports. I had the privilege to talk with Eefje “sjokz” Depoortere who had experiences with eSports. She now hosts the European League Championship Series and is one of the most respected people in the LoL community.
We talked about a large amount about how eSports was changing, various aspects of it, and how far it’s come. Through all of this one quote in particular struck me as fantastic. I said, “How far do you think eSports has come and how far do you think we still have to go before we’re being played in sports bars or something of that degree”.
Sjokz replied with, “I think especially the development in the last couple of years is remarkable and one of the best ways to see that is production value for big events and the crowd that tunes in. Hand in hand with that i think we should look at the mainstream influence eSports is starting to have, what I mean is that more and more people see it is a viable career option, not just pro gamer as that is a small % and of course the absolute dream, but coaches, managers, video editors, entrepreneurs, writers, everything. And as for bars, the Dreamhack finals are broadcasted in bars in Sweden already and we have several barcrafts, and games are broadcasted on television in Korea.”
She followed that up by saying that the goal of eSports shouldn’t be to be on National TV. We should take it one step at a time. Walking the path and seeing where it takes us. If it gets onto National TV like it is in Korea that’s great, but that shouldn’t be where we say, “Okay guys, we’ve gotten eSports as far as we can get it”. What’s in store for the future? I don’t know, but all I can say is that it’s going to be good.
Now what about comparing eSports to traditional sports? Surely, games can’t be sports can they? That’s where you’re wrong. When games become competitive, for money nonetheless, it breaks down and becomes something real. It becomes more than a game at that point. It becomes a job, a responsibility.
When I asked her about it, sjokz simply replied with, “Hm, I think if you look at the intensity of practice, the goals and money that is at stake, the crowds and the pressure the top league of legends athletes are under, the pressure of landing a shockwave that will determine your team getting into the LCS and secure your future is nothing short of the pressure a football star is under having to kick the final penalty to bring home the title. That and the scene as a whole is becoming more and more professional every day. I also think we should be proud of eSports, that its eSports that is getting big and we should set our own goals to get better.”
Breaking into the eSports scene isn’t difficult, but actually going pro takes a lot of work. You actually need to be good at a game to go pro at it. It’s not like totally new players are picked up randomly and told to go play in a tournament. Pro players work hard to maintain their job. If you want to break into the scene, pick a game and stick with it.
Whether you’re a gamer looking to go pro, or a company looking to sponsor a team, eSports is probably a really good investment. Journalists like me are also needed to help get eSports even further than it is now. By spreading the word and showing the world that we can be taken seriously, eSports can potentially be really big. The fact that it exists along stands for something great. That games aren’t just purely for fun anymore. They can be a job, or even more. They can be a life.