An Olympics for E-Sports? Just You Wait

An Olympics for E-Sports? Just You Wait

The rapid growth of the gaming industry in recent years has turned many people into power players. We live in a new era of competition where video games and virtual reality gaming experiences are part of modern day culture, encouraging people to develop certain skills until they achieve a level of mastery.

Now, a company is launching an Olympic Games specifically for the $1 billion e-sports gaming industry, according to CNBC. Competitive gaming tournaments where participants play in teams to win medals may soon become the norm.

According to CNBC, the International eGames Group will be hosting the first ever e-sports Olympics in South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics. This will be a competition to earn medals and take home the gold for the participant’s country. National qualifiers for the 2018 Olympics will be held through 2017. Professional gamers from around the globe will be practicing their gaming skills and the event is expected to attract a large crowd.

E-Sports Gaming Culture

The concept of playing video games at a professional level is not something new. Until now, organizations like the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) have been hosting competitions in different countries to participate in world-renowned tournaments. Gamers play games like Street Fighter, Starcraft II and League of Legends, according to Mashable. The IeSF took the lead on pushing for E-sports to be part of the Olympic Games.

Multiplayer gaming competitions and tournaments have a history that can be traced back to the 1980s. Atari’s Space Invaders Tournament is one example of a highly publicized event that encouraged gamers to get out and compete at a professional level. Several other tournaments fueled by the rapid growth of PC games in the 1990s spurred the trend, according to The Market for Computer & Video Games.

Major League Gaming (MLG) was established in 2002 and since then, we’ve been seeings several competitive gaming tournaments and virtual arenas making their way into mainstream culture. In 2014, more than 11 million people simultaneously watched the 2014 League of Legends World Championship event; 71.5 million people watched pro-gaming in 2014, according to Red Bull, reports MCV.

While gamers around the globe are in full favor of making their mark on the world at the Olympic level, there is still ongoing debate as to whether playing a video game — and even the skillet to win a game — qualifies as a real sport. Many people are questioning whether the whole tournament is more like a competition rather than a sport someone would train for since there is no real physical component or rigorous training program involved. Others argue that chess was once considered to be a sport, and so gaming may fall under the same category.

Professional Gamers On the Rise

While some may not take professional gaming seriously, the process of becoming a pro does require many hours of practice and skills development. Many professional gamers join online forums to learn tips and strategies for playing different games. There are dozens of online tournaments for those who want to brush up on their skills or continue developing their skills without the pressure of having to win a medal. Major League Gaming, for example, hosts online GameBattles where players can participate for free and win cash.

Online tournament enrollment requirements vary by team and most are designed for team players which means gamers need to seek out people they want to play with and not just compete with. Some companies that host tournaments charge a fee for entry or participation. And, there is a wealth of information online for studying the techniques and play styles of successful gamers. Pros-in-training need to know how to maneuver their joysticks or touch pads, use different types of virtual reality gear, and troubleshoot different gaming tools.

An Olympic Games for E-sports is on the horizon and many professional gamers are busy training like athletes for these highly-competitive events. Video games as a sport is now being taken seriously but is not without its critics. As the gaming industry continues to innovate and grow with virtual reality technologies and advanced gaming systems, we may see players developing even more advanced skills and techniques that put them in a completely new category of competitive athletes of the future.

Gamers, Rejoice: eSports Scholarships Are Here And Growing

Gamers, Rejoice: eSports Scholarships Are Here And Growing

Athletic scholarships are par for the course at many universities, and have been for ages. Gaming scholarships, though? That’s a whole new world.

With eSports beginning to blur the line between sports and videogames, already attracting crowds and monetizing, it’s become impossible to deny that gaming is less a nerdy hobby than it is a budding industry. This isn’t exactly a surprise, given the rise of video games this era. Advanced technology has created hyper-realistic video games much less likely to cause head trauma than its on-field counterparts.

Physical athletics may not decline; this isn’t a zero-sum game. But while football and its ilk are well-established, we’re just scraping the surface of what videogames have to offer. For young video game enthusiasts, that could be a big deal.

So, what can a young gamer expect in way of scholarships and careers?

Today, students can earn various scholarships just for gaming. One prominent example is the Twitch & Alienware scholarship program, which provides $10,000 scholarships to five students every year, provided they show mastery in their favorite game and in the classroom.

They can also get scholarships for the design, development, and business side of video games. The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences awards two types of scholarships, one for the development of interactive entertainment and the other for the business side, including executive leadership and law.

As eSports transitions into a recognized varsity sport, schools may begin recruiting and awarding scholarships to skilled gamers, too. Robert Morris University in Chicago became the first school to make competitive gaming a varsity sport, offering $19,000 scholarships to talented students. What’s more, unlike other college sports, eSports students can continue playing tournaments (and earning money) outside of academia.

Of course, some students may decide that college is not worth their while, considering they can monetize gaming without a formal education. Gamers can be recruited to the military as drone operators, or become lucrative online gaming personalities. I may not be incredibly likely, but it’s possible, especially as the public’s appetite for gaming grows.

Long story short, like everything else, videogames have huge potential for the talented and ambitious. Casual gamers should probably stake their bets elsewhere, but at least they no longer have to defend their hobby from naysayers.