E-Sports: Online Professional Sport
Computer is one of the greatest human findings. It is being introduced into all spheres of human activity. Millions of people cannot imagine their daily life without computers. It has turned out to be the fun zone, communication environment, and a place of work. Everyone can find there something interesting, amusing, useful, and entertaining, as computer is the device that provides its users with endless opportunities. Recently, computer assisted the creation of new phenomenon, which is called e-sport.
Electronic Sports is abbreviated e-sports, and the first e-sports approach is originated in the online competitive games. E-sports use high-tech hardware and software devices, as sports equipment, and are an intellectual confrontation sport between people. E-sports can exercise and improve participants’ thinking ability, responsiveness, coordination of heart, eyes, and limb, determination, and foster team spirit. E-sport is the new sports genre for the twenty-first century, foreshadowing the implications of radically shifting terrain in the spari-media-technology nexus. There is a possibility that in ten years it will obtain the certain place on the sport arena, and all the kinds of sports will become virtual.
Electronic sports combine the electronic gaming activity with sporting competition. Instead of utilizing a physical space, enthusiasts compete in a virtual space. An online sport megatrend comprised of several growing governing bodies and commercial enterprises. E-sport seeks to co-create sport engagement experiences with participants through global online networks (Taylor, 135). As a result, e-sport exemplifies the growing intersection between the recreational and the relational interfaces available through sport products. Larissa Hjorth and Dean Chan discuss the issue in their work “Gaming Cultures and Place in Asia-Pacific” (2009):
“Considering the rich atmosphere afforded by online game culture, we cannot ignore the particular manifestation of use cultures emerging from an aggressively integrated glut of multimedia, which serves to mutually reinforce the mainstream online game culture prevalent in contemporary youth. The increasing popularity of e-sports and the live broadcasting of competitions on cable television networks have expedited the growth of online growth of online games, particularly among mainstream youth” (p. 29).
E-sports have been an important subsidiary element that has helped increase the mainstream saturation of online game players. The popularity of e-sports works to merge different social interest groups, industry players, and online game consumers (Jin, 64). The growth of e-sports and the development and popularity of professional online gamers, are closely related to each other in a new area. E-sports have facilitated and expedited the growth of online games and professional online culture, which has made professional gamers a major part of the daily lives of youth.
As the sports media have proven to be of phenomenal appeal to the global audience, e-sport has rapidly become one of the major television events among young people. Within the public domain, young people are perceived to be especially influenced by the powerful effects of media messages, with widely expressed concern focused on their inability to be discerning readers of the sporting texts, and to their susceptibility to imitate the inappropriate on-and-off-field exploits of their favorite game stars. Unlike other professional sports and their close relation to media, e-sport has its own unique characteristics, as the name implies (Hjorth, 143). It has been named a sport because the game’s result is decided through competition, as in sports, but the competition occurs in a network. The media, particularly broadcasting, has played a vital role in the growth of e-sports because media creates audiences, which are necessary for e-sports. Although there have been many professional and amateur online game players, the popularity of online gaming cannot be guaranteed without broadcasting.
E-sport is complex because it evolves from various cultural and economic factors. It neither suits comfortably as a cultural genre nor as a sporting event. It creates a mix of culture with technology, sport and business.
Controversy of viewpoints: There exist various viewpoints towards the e-sports. The thing is that the issue has divided the society into those who vote for it and those who vote against it. For a particular number of people electronic sports are the life’s meaning, and they perceive it not as a hobby, but as a profession. Moreover, they dedicate their whole lives to electronic games. The proponents of electronic gaming perceive it as the technology of future, which assists to develop human minds and techniques.
On the other side, there exist people, who stand against e-sports and claim that they are not games, but addiction. Critics of electronic gaming claim that they hinder people from actually living their lives, though it sounds as tautology. Gamers spend most of their free time behind the monitor of their computers (Christophers and Scholz, 44). They devote their real life to virtual world, and for that reason, are unable to appreciate the values of human living. As a result, the opponents of e-sports perceive it as complete waste of time.
The bright example of the controversy, which was mentioned above, is children and parents. In most cases children stand for the e-sports, while their parents do not understand the passion of their children and promote playing real life kinds of sports.
Gender segregation: Contemporary e-sports are deeply segregated, with women and men generally playing in different teams and in separate tournaments. As a result, there has been a gendered division, which can also be found in traditional gaming. Unlike traditional sports, where an ideology of physical difference predominates, there are no real reasons why men and women can’t play together. Unlike other sports that have both male and female professional teams, such as basketball and volleyball, the professional gaming world includes both men and women. Although, young male players and female players are largely absent in the professional games world.
Stories behind Professional E-Sport Players
In order to understand how people become professional e-sport players, the interview was conducted with Jonathan Wendel. He was born in 1982 and known as Fatal1ty. As a professional e-sport player, he has secured winnings in excess of US$500,000, and has competed in the Cyberathlete Professional League.
In the course of interview, after being asked how he decided to become pro in e-sport, he stated that e-sport from the very beginning was extremely important thing in his life. Computer games occupied the biggest part of his life. He felt himself really happy and convenient while playing them. And one day, he understood that electronic games were more than his hobby. He realized that he wanted to achieve maximum in that field, and after that, due to constant training, he started improving his level through the development of analytical and playing techniques. Despite the fact that becoming professional in the electronic sport sphere was a difficult task, desire to achieve success in the field assisted Jonathan. Major problems were connected to the fact that e-sport was not an official field, and it was difficult to find the educational establishment, which could prepare such specialists. It means that he had to acquire and develop his skills by himself.
The major reason of becoming the professional was the wish to achieve true heights in his favorite sphere. He understood that playing games was more than a means of relaxation and satisfaction; it was a sphere, where he could demonstrate his unique skills, talents, and possibilities. Moreover, when he started playing computer games, the sphere was not as developed, as it is now. And he wanted to be the person, who could introduce great achievements.
He became a leading competitor and also secured the significant endorsements and became a media celebrity, a global spokesperson, and an e-sport commentator. He managed to achieve great results in different spheres of one field. In such way, he developed his personality in a multidisciplinary way. By the late 2000s, he had won five world championship titles, based on a regime of practicing at least eight hours every day. Through all of such activities, he also built a Fatal1ty brand, using it as an opportunity to promote particular products.
Borris et al. in the book “Space Time Play: Synergies Between Computer games, Architecture and Urbanism” (2007) mention that e-gaming had a long way of development. Moreover, its prominence and popularity, and the level of organization and competition it involves, indicate that it could be considered as a sport, meaning also that those competing can be considered as athletes (183). Jonathan emphasized that e-gaming is a kind of sport that helps reveal individual talents. While all sports involve interaction between humans and various forms of technology, e-gaming brings it to a new level, especially in the context of the relations between sport and media.
Before obtaining the status of professional, Jonathan was just a keen electronic game player without fame and salary. However, the status of professional has changed his position in society and his image in the e-sport world. Currently, he is considered to be a celebrity and earns thousands of dollars. He is an icon in the e-sport world in the USA and outside of it.
In order to promote e-sports, the society is currently conducting research and broadcasting of the e-sports tournaments.
Research: It is a valid aspect of a given field, because it is tightly connected with the issue of modern technologies. New technologies assist to attract new audience and to improve the course of the game. Moreover, currently various investigations are made in order to develop and improve the quality of graphics. Such issues are of preliminary significance for the e-sports, because they are directed towards their innovation.
Broadcasting: It is a major means of expanding the e-sports’ popularity. The society supports e-sports through the media translation of the tournaments. It increases the understanding of the mass audience of the e-sports notion and expands the mass interest. E-sport is a phenomenon, which attracts mass audience today and widely popularizes competitive play.
Impact of E-Sports
Humans: E-sports seriously affect people, who are taking part in them. They result in huge workload, complexity of training tasks. Due to its constant innovations, e-sport stresses some aspects of organizational structures and culture. Moreover, despite the fame and high salaries received professional players, ordinary people often suffer from the so-called game addiction. In other words, it might be stated that as the e-sport participants become accustomed to the virtual world, the returning to the normal life becomes quite problematic.
Economic: It is worth mentioning that e-sport is quite complex, as it presupposes a number of economic factors. Its increased popularity brings a number of viewers, and it results in profit. Spectacular sports are always lucrative from the financial viewpoint. It has turned out to be a new business area that brings profit. Despite the fact that e-sport tournaments are usually watched by thousands of people, they also gain sponsorships from such famous companies as Dr. Pepper and Redbull.
While discussing the successful cases of the e-sport participation, the story of Jonathan Wendel should be reminded. He managed to achieve his goal, became the professional player and obtained fame and huge income. However, there is a limited number of such people.
The next case concerns the life of the ex-student Tommy Lee. He is an Asian immigrant and came to the US to receive higher education. He was smart and bright student and showed amazing results while studying in high school. E-sport was his hobby and he participated in it in order to escape from the busy world, and feel himself the inhabitant of another virtual planet. At first, Tommy played games just to relax after long school evening; however, with the course of time he became game-addicted. He left school and did not manage to enter college. It was a tremendous disappointment for his parents, who worked hard to provide their only son an opportunity to receive decent education.
Tommy waned to become the professional player, and for that reason, he spent all his time playing games. Instead of improving his playing skills he deteriorated his eyesight. However, the problem was not just in physical problems, which Tommy experienced after his constant playing computer games. The major issue was the fact that he had become detached from a real life. For his parents, it seemed that he came from other planet, as he was absolutely distracted from real troubles, such as bills and payments. The only thing that actually interested him was e-sport. Tommy Lee is an example of unsuccessful participation in e-sports, which lead to moral and physical destruction of the human being.
E-sport has progressed beyond its primacy as a leisure activity. It has grounded sport in leisure and leisure in sport, reminding that sport is only one component of leisure. Today, it has expanded from the ordinary leisure activity to the essential component of social engagement, culture, and big business. The participation level shows large youth involvement. Today, the spectator involvement continues growing. The availability of different networks and the growth of Internet content through the use of computers, smart phones and tablets, as well as the increased interest in international e-sports events, have resulted in the high number of spectators. E-sports have become the profitable business. But as every kind of business, it brings success to the limited number of people, and provides hopes to millions. Unfortunately, human hopes and wishes rarely come true, and it results in drastic negative consequences.
At first sight, e-sport is a way to escape from the reality and relax for a moment. However, in real life it turns out to be a big problem. It takes people’s time, physical efforts, strengths and moral power. People just cannot understand when there is a moment to stop playing games, and start integrating into society, which seems to be the main problem. People become obsessed by the new technical possibilities, innovations, virtual world, and their enormous power there. Such artificial world becomes more valuable than a real one, and, as a result, people just lose the contact with reality. It is significant to remember that today people live in the age full of information technologies, which have overwhelmed human lives. Today, people use them while working, communicating, and relaxing. The most essential thing is to remember that information technologies are useful items that assist people in making their life easier. However, one should be cautious, because overuse of such means may result in computer imprisonment and loosing the contact with reality.
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