People love to compete, whether it be on the sports field or in virtual video games. Think back to the first Olympics in the year 776 BC, we’ve come a long way since those games in Ancient Greece. We can now play or watch dozens of sports and also battle it out in video games.
The first video game debuted in 1958 and was similar to a table tennis game. As technology plotted along, pinball machines were replaced with simple video game machines. Arcades were packed with gamers playing Pac Man or Donkey Kong. The highest scorers could put their initials or names in the machine. Developers then began to work on systems that users could play at home. One of the first successful units was the Atari and the company hit a home run when they figured out how to bring Space Invaders inside the home, but there was no way to compete with others until the internet. During the early days of dial-up, message boards became scoreboards where players would compare their performances but they could still not play against each other. These online interactions were the beginning of eSports.
Some of the earliest successful competitive computer games were Warcraft and Starcraft, which could be very complicated to play. Soon video game consoles were released with internet connections and that greatly expanded the gaming industry. Technology became more advanced and more players joined in competition. The first esports competition with the updated technology featured the game Halo 2, which was shown on TV. The event wasn’t much fun for the audience to watch. That’s the point where gamers figured out how to enhance the viewer experience with play on YouTube and Twitch.
The popularity of competitions continued with League of Legends, drawing thousands to the world championship. In a few short years, companies have established esports teams. These teams are comprised of top gamers, mostly in their 20’s, who train and compete around the world in a variety of games.
Ironically, the Olympic committee is exploring adding esports to the games sometime in the future. But critics say the nature of these video games is too violent. For now, you can find teams competing globally, on the university and the high school level. No doubt this phenomena will continue to grow.