The Evolution Will Be Televised

There’s a strange oddity in competitive gaming. Lans and tournaments are held all over the world. Cash prizes exceed $20,000 in some cases. E-sports are legitimizing themselves more and more every year, yet they’re still to break through to the mainstream. Why?

Gaming has grown exponentially in the past few years. Ease of access to online services like Xbox Live and PSN have made friendly competition massive. No longer are we stuck to playing split screen squint-a-thons on less than adequate tv’s, but we can now play our console games with friends miles away, without having to set up cardboard dividers on the telly. With this new found competition has come a new found love of “professional” gaming. Events like Major League Gaming, Evolution Championship Series, Super Versus Battle and iSeries, amongst others, have become huge marks on the gaming calender, drawing attention from fans of the games being played, and fans of competition alike.

Crowd shot from EVO10
This year's EVO Fighting Game Championships in Las Vegas was huge, but will we ever see it fill a stadium?

One argument as to why E-sports are less popular is the complicated nature of the games themselves. It’s hard to disagree with that when you get down to specifics, but as a broad statement I have to disagree. Say you didn’t understand the rules of Football and were taken to see your first game. Just knowing the simple basis of the game (Two teams compete to put the ball in the other’s net) is enough to enjoy it. You don’t have to know about offside trapping, applying pressure, off ball movement etc. to enjoy the experience. Now, on the same basis, imagine you’d never played a fighting game before. Someone tells you “The aim here is to lower your opponents health to zero in a best of 3 rounds contest.” You wouldn’t need to know about blockstrings, tickthrows, mixups etc. to enjoy the flow of battle. The same could be said of RTS games, FPS games, hell, to bring it full circle, even football games.

Stands of fans
"After he 1-frame linked crouching light kick into Ultra 1, we lost it!"

In such a digital age as this, and with the quality and accessibility of tournament streaming and commentating at an all time high, it feels like a market that’s waiting to break through. It is happening slowly, streams of tournaments being saved and shared between fans, YouTube channels dedicated to showcasing the best of specific games. These will do in the meantime, but I cross my fingers and hope for the day that I can see specific sports channels for E-sports.







2 responses to “The Evolution Will Be Televised”

  1. Yaz avatar

    I’m also crossing my fingers for E-sports channels…
    I thought CGS was going to help the UK break through in to televised E-sports… It turned out to be an epic fail though because of behind the scenes conflicts etc and tbh the majority of it seemed to be based on who you knew and the ‘online presence’ you had created for yourself.
    Something similiar to CGS being created in the UK would become hugely popular no doubt… It just needs to be done creatively and with a huge determination and commitment to see it succeed!!
    Maybe something for ready-up team to dip into? 😛

  2. Simon avatar

    I think many people don’t enjoy watching games anywhere near as much as playing them. That’s different for traditional sports.

    Also, high-level players operate so quickly that it can be difficult to see what’s actually happening. Street Fighter, Starcraft and Counterstrike spring to mind.

    But, I can see it growing in popularity over the next few years. Televised CoD tournaments alone could bring a solid audience.

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