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The Evolution of eSports

Rate this Article With whole new industries emerging from the advent of eSports, it does make one wonder - how did this phenomenon happen in the first place? Let's take a walk down "history lane" and find out! MMO Square - The Evolution of eSports

An “eSport” is defined as a form of competitive play where the players use computers to compete with each other.

Also known as professional video gaming or pro-gaming, eSports has evolved through the years where organized multiplayer computer game competitions are sponsored by leading industries and multinational companies. These competitions usually take place at pre-selected venues which may vary depending on what particular multiplayer game is being played. This may include data centers configured for gaming to real sports arenas like football fields, baseball stadiums and immense coliseums that can hold large crowds of cheering fans.

This events have recently grown to such huge proportions that the price money put up by the sponsors have ranged from thousands to millions. An entire industry has emerged resulting from the popularity of eSports that include not only the player teams but the supporting professionals as well. These include the game developers, eSports media, organizers, computer equipment manufacturers and others. eSports is still a form of sport albeit growing to be one of the most popular sport events today, rivaling sports event that have been played traditionally, such as soccer, basketball and badminton, through the years.

However, the term “eSport” is still, somewhat, viewed as a recent definition and this brings us to our main topic for today - the evolutionary process, filled with plenty of events that had eventually contributed to what eSport has become today.

It all started at Stanford University on October 19, 1972. Back then, it was a simple competition between Engineering and Computer programming students on the computer centers PDP-10 mini-computer. The game was called SpaceWar and had two spaceships on-screen trying to outdo each other while both circling a theoretical black hole and simultaneously being pulled into it.

Space Invaders

The competition was sponsored by Rolling Stones music magazine that provided beer and prices for the event. Tovar and Robert E. Maas won the team competition while Bruce Baumgart won the singles game. Back then though the focus was on programming skill and making a game for the PDP-10, they had no idea what they had begun.

In 1981 with the mass popularity of Atari’s video game consoles, the first large scale eSport competition (they still called it video game event back then) was held with over 10,000 participants attending from all-over the US - The game, Space Invaders.

Various tournaments and competitions followed through the years with arcade games ranging from Pac-Man to Donkey Kong with champion players being featured in magazines, newspapers and even TV shows. This trend continued throughout the 80’s but would greatly change in the 1990’s.

The emergence of the Internet and the PC rental industry known as LAN shops created an environment conducive to multiplayer gaming. The on-line game Netrek which was released in 1988 with the capacity to accommodate 16 players was credited to be the first on-line sports game. This trek with various multiplayer online games continued to the point where it dramatically evolved in the late 90’s.

The rise of the multiplayer shooters was so to speak the match that lit the dynamite. Players would flock into LAN shops and organized venues just to compete in team matches. In 1997, game company id held the Red Annihilation Tournament for its FPS game Quake. The event was considered to be the first multiplayer FPS eSports event.

While games like Quake and Unreal multiplayer populated Internet servers, LAN shops all over the world were hosting multiplayer shooter games that would define the direction of what eSports is today. A game where Terrorist met Anti-Terrorist in a battlefield arena called CounterStrike.

While the rest of the west focused on FPS multiplayer with CounterStrike in particular as the tournament and competition game of choice, the game environment in South Korea was focused on Real Time Strategy gaming where thousands of Koreans literally flocked to LAN shops to play StarCraft.

League of Legends 2015 World Championships

These tournaments that grew in numbers worldwide both on-line and venued events continued into the 2000’s that the phenomenon could no longer be ignored. The corporate sponsors had started to come in en masse and the proper term to define the phenomenon, “eSports”, was born.

The Koreans started developing their own game industry and started releasing multiplayer games of their own. Fighting games like Tekken, Street Fighter and others made popular by Japan where used in one-on-one console game competitions. US developers like Blizzard has also jumped onto the bandwagon by making it a lot conducive for eSport organizers to use their games for competitions. In fact, they have organized massive eSport tournaments for Starcraft II and Warcraft III themselves as well.

The eSport scene has also caused the rise of an entire new game genre, called MOBA, that had spawned from Defense of the Ancients, a modded game derived from WarCraft III. MOBA refers to a team-based MMO game that takes place in a battle arena with tower-lined lanes and has a very competitive gameplay. Aside from DotA, League of Legends (LoL) is another excellent representation of this genre.

Not to mention, today, many eSports organizations such as Major League Gaming (MLG), Electronic Sports League (ESL), ESports Entertainment Association League (ESEA) and the South Korean Global StarCraft II League (GSL) continue to organize eSports events thus continually promoting support and sponsorship for player teams and various eSports organizations. Events such as The International, League of Legends World Championships and Dreamhack continue to pull-in millions of viewers worldwide creating a very favorable business situation for advertisers and organizers alike.

With League of Legends, Starcraft II, and CounterStrike Global Offensive (CS:GO) dominating the MOBA, RTS and FPS eSports scenes respectively (as of this writing), the future of eSports is definitely looking bright, considering that they are among the most played multiplayer games in the world today.

If you’re thinking of joining the elite players in the eSports scene, well, we might just have the article for you: How to be a Pro-Gamer.

--- This article was adopted from our sister site: WorldWide Games Database (WWGDB).

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