Member preview

Video games, gaming and the social and economic benefits of Esports

Video games have come a long way since the early binary instalments, the arcade system, and the first multiplayer trials at M.I.T to becoming portals to infinite social and entertainment worlds.

As science and technology continues to transform the way we live, the way we vote, and the way we do business — it is pivotal to resist inclinations that it’s not going to transform the way we play.

E-sports is all about play. It’s competitive and collaborative video gaming. In my previous updates, here and here, I impart with the benefits of gaming and 8 common misconceptions about gaming, respectively.

UK Fast employees enjoy a night of gaming at work. Credit: Lawrence Jones on Twitter

What is esports?

Once upon a time, players had to converge at an agreed location, on a specified date, to enjoy gaming. But today, players can coordinate and enjoy competitive and collaborative video-gaming from the comfort of their sofas. The phenomenon is enabled by technology-adoption maturity and connected mediated-technologies underpinned by the Web. This new way of organising and enjoying video games paved the way for electronic sports or sporting — popularly known as e-sports.

Esports or electronic sports is competitive multiplayer online gaming. Esports, like many sporting events, can be staged in front of a live audience and millions more online. As observed, during 2018 winter Olympics in Korea.

As a form of sports, esports has been brewing in the background for decades, and it is far from a new or emerging. But before I impart with the economic benefits of esports, I explore three top barriers that’s hindered its manifestation below:

Indian players prepare for esporting. (Image credit — Arash, K. IFB Gaming.)

The Barriers: Research, market penetration & tech-adoption maturity

1. Research

Game developers, such as, Microsoft and Sony, have invested heavily in connected, immersive, and ubiquitous gaming constructs with relational themes. Similarly to social media, people are connecting, learning, and innovating at a universal scale. While brands capitalised on the emerging trend, it was impractical for science due to the connected and multiverse dimensions in gaming, due to science protocols, and due to parenting. Nowadays, researchers include parents and guardians in their investigations and data collection processes.

Further, there was a lot of stereotyping in the past which excluded the players and specific genres from the discussion. This meant that while scholars continued to recruit and remove people from the spaces that define them for studies, a parallel form of community was in development and brands could be part of the development.

2. Market penetration and data

Brands have been a major barrier to e-sports. While brands and multi-nationals transformed new audiences for competitive advantage, science and academia could not due to protocol and parenting. What we’ve witnessed so far are early penetration strategies by brands and organisations to establish a presence and voice in gaming communities. This, through hyper-branding, sponsorship, and advertising initiatives.

Chart showing the world’s top earners (Pic — Business Insider)

3. Technology-adoption maturity

Technology-adoption maturity refers to the period in human history that’s associated with a holistic adoption of technology for daily living. Gaming industry leads the way although more and more organisations are beginning to embrace digital and mediated-communication.

The digital-non-digital or social-technology mix magnifies complexities with contemporary gaming research and applied sciences. Gaming industry integrates unique and diverse industry sets, as well as, sophisticated computer mediated-communication infrastructures, held together by AI, the Cloud, and the Web. According to Gartner, gaming industry is on course to becoming the largest single contributor to the entertainment industry.

The benefits Of E-sports

1. Economic benefits

According to British Broadcasting Corporation, e-sports will generate more than £1bn in global revenue and almost double its global audience to nearly 600 million people by 2020. In a corresponding national report, Ukie estimates an increase in UK audience to a staggering 8 million by 2019.

The anticipated and confirmed inclusion of e-sports at 2018 winter Olympic epitomise the national benefit of esports. The immediate economic benefits of esports fall under: job creation; international relations; learning infrastructures; and new tourism.

2. Social Benefits

Like most sports events, e-sports impacts every level and culture that co-habitats the society. At a local level, e-sports may facilitate cohesion and integration in deprived areas of the society. Video games are one of the favourite pastime activity for both children and adults.

E-sports can play a pivotal role in sewing broken social fabric, bridging cultural and national barriers, as players can interact directly and learn in self-configured spaces with some freedom of operation.

3. Research and applied science benefits

Online gaming has been contributing to science for decades, and we also have our own game/citizen science project (Galaxy Zoo) at the University of Portsmouth. The manifestation of e-sports in non-game context is particularly beneficial to science because it brings distinct industries together. Many of these industries would otherwise not enter any form of discussions if not for the maturity of technology-adoption.

An international coalition of Game studies scholars have openly called for new and connected research methods that reflect the complexity and ambiguity of contemporary living and playing.

Final word: The future of e-sports

Though esports present unique opportunities to engage and capture an untapped audience, it is not a substitute for traditional and outdoor play. E-sports is a unique way to reach excluded young people. In the near future, we should expect to see some e-sporting in colleges, higher education institutions, and in the workplace.

Important Note:

Gaming and e-sports are not substitutes for outdoor play and real sports: Online Gaming Safety: Top Tips For Parents, Guardians, And Players on eLearning industry’s blog.