By: Kyle Pendergast
I grew up playing video games. There was no online matchmaking, progression system, or national championships. It was me vs the game. If I was lucky, I could play split screen with Dylan from down the street. Most of my childhood consisted of my parents telling me to play outside more.
Today, the video game industry is worth over $100+ Billion . A subset of that, esports, is projected to eclipse $1.65 Billion by 2021 .
Let’s pause for a second. So people can make money playing a video game…professionally? Yep. The average starting player salary for professional League of Legends players is now over $320,000. 70% of those players are on multi-year contracts .
This is just the start. Esports WILL catch up to traditional sports (expected to reach $70+ Billion in 2019). This isn’t a hypothesis. It is a fact. Generation Z and beyond have been playing video games since they were born. Parents are hiring coaches to train their kids. Universities are providing scholarships to attract talent.
The esports gold rush is real. Indianapolis better get on board.
Did you know that Dota 2’s Championship, called the International, had 5.9 Million peak viewers? Tickets to the event at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada sold out in minutes.
Rogers Arena seats 18,910 people.
Overwatch hosted its championship at Barclay’s Center in New York. 19,000 seats sold out. Rocket League Championship Series at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis…sold out? This could happen in Indy.
This isn’t just about playing video games. This is also about talent attraction. Women who play video games are 3x MORE LIKELY to enroll in PSTEM degrees than women who do not play video games. This same study also found that 100% of survey correspondents who were already in PSTEM degrees identified as gamers . So, I hear Indy is trying to attract tech talent…hint hint.
Riot Games Director of Esports, Michael Sherman, reported that 62% of League of Legends participants are from STEM majors. Are you a tech company in Indianapolis ? Your ears just perked.
Finally, let’s talk entrepreneurship. In the first half of 2018, venture capitalists poured $701 Million into esports . PlayVs just raised $30.5 Million to build the national infrastructure for high school esports competitions . In Indianapolis companies like Challonge, Pacers Gaming, Player One Esports, and (self-promotion incoming) Indy Gaming League are leading the Indianapolis esports scene.
If I’m understanding myself correctly, here is what Indy has to gain from esports:
- Large, lucrative championship events
- Top Tech Talent (Hey Techpoint, how’s it going?)
Indianapolis is not the esports Capital of the World. But it should be and it can be. Already hailing itself as the “Racing Capital of the World” and the “Sports Capital of the World”, let’s add another title to our city:
The esports Capital of the World.
Kyle Pendergast is the Co-Founder and Co-Commissioner of Indy Gaming League (IGL). IGL runs online, intramural video game leagues. To learn more about IGL, get in contact, or be involved you can visit https://www.indygamingleague.com/.