Recent years have shown that the definition of what can be called sport is being neglected because more and more activities are considered to be a sport. One such activity is the playing video game. An activity that once served as a way to spend free time and to have fun today has become an activity that generates tournaments with almost million participants and huge amount of money as a reward for the winners of those tournaments.
Esports is known around the world by many different names. Some of those names are electronic sports, competitive video gaming , professional video gaming, pro gaming and many others. The main idea behind the notion of eSports it represents the competitions that are facilitated in great majority of cases by video games. In majority of cases, Esports events are organized as multiplayer video games in which teams of professional video games players are competing against each other. eSports competitions can be divided into several categories: MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), first-person shooter (FPS), real-time strategy and fighting. These eSports competitions have been especially popular during the 2000s when this competition witnessed the transition from amateur to professional video gaming.
Even though today's eSports competitions generate thousands of participants and significant amount of money in rewards that was not the case in the early stages of eSports development. The first record competition that featured video games was held back in 1972, on October 1972 and it was organized by Stanford University and the game in which participants competed was Spacewar. Interestingly enough, the winner of that competition got one year's subscription for Rolling Stone magazine as a reward. However, eight years after that competition, in 1980, the first tournament that featured large number of players was organized by Atari and it was called The Space Invaders Championship. More than 10,000 players from all over the United States participated at this tournament.
During the 70s and 80s years of the previous century, video gaming as a phenomenon became more and more present in the mainstream media. Magazines like Life and Time featured articles about popular players of video games and the most prominent tournaments. One of the most important names of the early stages of eSports development was Walter Day. During the summer of 1980, he established an organization called Twin Galaxis that dealt with keeping high score records. Later on, this organization helped in the promotion of the video games all over the world. In 1993, this organization made one of the crucial steps in the development of video games and that is it established U.S. National Video Game Team. During the next several years U.S. National Video Game Team was official team that participated at many important tournaments.
Other important name for the development of eSports at that time was Billy Mitchell. He is the first video game player whose name was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The reason why is he was a Guinness World Record holder is the fact that he hold the highest records for six different arcade games including Donkey Kong and especially Pac-Mac. During that time, first television shows appear in the United States that feature some aspects of eSports. The first television show that aired in this regards was Starcade that aired 133 episodes. In that show, participants would compete against each other attempting to break the other contestant's record in arcade games.
During the 1990s, video games experienced an increase in popularity. During that period and due to the popularity of Internet that was taking the world by storm, new concept of video games appeared and those were online video games. The first online video game, as it was characterized by Wired Magazine in 1993 was Netrek. Since then, popularity of online video games continued to rise until the 2000s when we witness the huge increase in the popularity of the eSports tournaments.
During the 2000s, the biggest rise in popularity of online video games occurred in South Korea. One of the main reasons for that was the opening of one kind of internet cafe that served as a gaming center for anyone who wanted to play online video games. During that time, eSports was so popular in South Korea that the government established Korean eSports Association that operated as a part of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea. During that time we also witness the rise of the tournaments that features huge number of tournaments that have been organized to this day.
One such tournament is Battle.net World Championship Series or BlizzCon. This tournament is organized all over the world since the first time it was organized in 2012. This tournament features competitions in StarCraft II , World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Another such tournament is The International that is being held from 2011. This tournament features competitions in one of the most popular online video games today, Dota 2. It is interesting that this tournament has broken records in regards to the amount of money for the team that win first place in this competition every year since 2011. One of the most recent online video games competitions is Call of Duty World League that began in 2016. The game that is featured in this competition is Call of Duty: Black Ops II. This tournament also serves as a qualifying round for the Call of Duty Championship that has been organized in California, United States since 2013.
The eSports has been a phenomenon for so many years but today it can be said that eSports have become much more than a phenomenon. Some people will even called a sport. Objectively, looking at the number of hours that players spend training and practicing and considering how big effort and sacrifice it requires we can say that eSports have become a sport. Besides that, it is important to say that eSports have contributed to the popularity of video games as well as to the development of video games that feature much better graphics, animation and many other important features that affect the gaming experience.