Gaming. A Spectator Sport?

“E-Sports” has grown quite considerably over the last few years, with many large online leagues and LAN tournaments popping up all over the world, but has it really become big enough to be watched like a ‘true’ sport?

A Championship Gaming Series live match.

Some of you might already know that the 1998 strategy game, Starcraft, is absolutely massive in South Korea. So large in fact, that there are numerous TV channels dedicated to broadcasting top-level Starcraft matches. The best players over there are actually considered celebrities, with big salaries and sponsorships. I remember reading an article a while back where it was put into perspective. 25,000 Koreans tuned in to watch a National Baseball final game, with baseball being the official national sport of Korea. I was pretty surprised to find out that about 100,000 other Koreans chose to watch a Starcraft final being held at the same time. It’s not hard to imagine if you think about it, literally every kid in Korean grows up around the game. So it’s no surprise so many people can watch a professional match and know exactly what is going on. RTS games always confuse me and eventually give me a headache so I myself have never actually sat down and played one. However, I can still respect the skill and knowledge required to play it at a high level.

A Starcraft match in Korea. Can gaming become as popular as this in other countries?

Organisations such as the CGS and MLG in the United States is proof that spectator-friendly gaming is very possible on a large scale, but with these being relatively new, we will just have to see how successful they can be in the long run. At the end of the day, computer games will always be more enjoyable to play rather than to watch. The same goes for every other sport so what makes gaming so different? Does E-Sports still have a long way to go or is its global supremacy closer than you think? You decide.







7 responses to “Gaming. A Spectator Sport?”

  1. Emily avatar

    Hmmm, ‘always more enjoyable to play’? Video games, definately, but I honestly revel in watching the blood, sweat and tears of the Olympics.

    In comparison to the most popular ‘regular’ sports, I think it has a long way to go, yeah.

    The pictures in your entries so far do amaze me! 😮

  2. Jono avatar

    Thanks =]

    Talking about the olympics, do you think video gaming can eventually make it there? An article I read raised a fair point – “with the advent of online gaming, hundreds of millions of people are already involved in vast virtual worldwide competitions and the possibilities for games are endless. What big difference is there between someone squeezing the trigger on an air pistol and a button on their joystick?”

    interesting read!

  3. Lorna avatar

    I think games can be quite spectator friendly. I watched o/h playing Oblivion for days before I had my own Xbox or was even interested in owning one and really enjoyed it (despite vowing to myself not to). I think with the more story led games, theses can be quite a pull as it can be like watching an interactive film.

  4. Laura avatar

    I enjoy watching “The Match” on Xleague especially if it’s a game I play myself, as you can guess what the player is thinking, you know if they’ve made a good kill or a lucky shot and it can be really exciting if the match is close.

    Playing sports is all about pushing buttons too, making connections in the mind that control our actions. Maybe it’s mentally the same to get your brain to learn how to make headshots in a game instead of using it to train your body to swim the 100 metres.

  5. Michael avatar

    I don’t think it’s anywhere near being as… mainstream as it is in South Korea. Yes, there’s those tournaments you mentioned in the US but the coverage of them is pretty niche, isn’t it? On channels like Xleague, I would imagine.

  6. Ben avatar

    I can sit happily and watch someone play through a game, enjoy it just as much as playing it, which is quite strange I admit.

    With games now moving more into the mainstream and being generally more accepted who knows where we’ll end up?

  7.  avatar

    Shows like CGS (Who broadcast on DirecTV in the states) and XLeague (Sky in the UK) are enabling the accessibility of games to the masses. You can draw parallels with football, I am sure everyone who watches it love to play it as well. But there is something about watching 2 teams at the top of their game showing you how its done.

    Alot also comes down to the commentator, Paul Chaloner (ReDeYe), Stuart Saw (TosspoT) are two such people and are the legendary commentators of tomorrow (today?). I reckon we will just see it grow and grow.

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