How competitive gaming got serious
Although many teenagers and adults can spend hours playing computer games, until recently this has been viewed to have very little in terms of positive effects.
However, with the advent of competitive gaming it seems that many people are viewing gaming as a legitimate career with an entire infrastructure of associated industries such as soft drinks sponsors, sports betting companies and even regular television channels looking to get involved.
Competitive gaming has really taken off in the past decade with huge tournaments that involve professional gamers playing games ranging from massively multiplayer online role-playing games to more straight-forward shoot-em-ups.
But what really makes tournaments such as Evolution Championship Series attractive to external companies is the fact that the competitions are viewed by thousands of spectators in the arenas, as well as by many more via specialist gaming television channels such as Twitch.tv.
However, the attention that competitive gaming has gathered has meant that many major mainstream companies are getting involved too. As well as massive multinational corporations such as Red Bull and Coca Cola sponsoring events and individual players, sports betting companies like Betway frequently offer the latest odds on major gaming competitions so that you can even bet on Call of Duty being played by a team of teenagers in South Korea!
The ease with which players can now compete against each other has meant that detailed leaderboards featuring the latest gaming activity can give a quick overview of how the gameplay is progressing. Such information is invaluable to competitive gamers as they seek to work their way up the gaming ladder that is becoming increasingly professionalised with managers, agents and training camps all working to improve a player’s performance.
The intense pressures put on modern gamers is merely a symptom of the increasing revenues that are drawn out of this rapidly-growing competitive format. With the gaming industry now thought be worth over $20 billion, it’s increasingly leading companies such as Electronic Arts and Nintendo to use competitive gaming as a way to diversify their incomes and increase their product’s global appeal.
But as competitive gaming becomes more like a regular sport with lucrative betting, sponsorship and media opportunities, there are concerns for the long-term future of many gamers. This is especially so with recent reports of gamers using the amphetamine-like drug Adderall in order to play longer hours.
However, with the unstoppable rise of massive tournaments such as Intel Extreme Masters taking place in Cologne this month in front of thousands of spellbound spectators, it looks like competitive gaming is showing no signs of slowing down.