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The 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 a fun zone, communication environment, and a place of work. Everyone can find there something interesting, amusing, useful, and entertaining, as the computer is the device that provides its users with endless opportunities. Recently, computers assisted the creation of a new phenomenon, which is called e-sport.
Electronic Sports is abbreviated e-sports, and the first e-sports approach is originated in online competitive games. E-sports use high-tech hardware and software devices, like 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 spare-media-technology nexus. There is a possibility that in ten years it will obtain a certain place in the sporting arena, and all kinds of sports will become virtual.
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Electronic sports combine electronic gaming activity with the 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 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 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.
The controversy of viewpoints: There exist various viewpoints towards e-sports. The thing is that the issue has divided society into those who vote for it and those who vote against it. For a particular number of people, electronic sports are 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 the 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 an addiction. Critics of electronic gaming claim that they hinder people from actually living their lives, though it sounds like a tautology. Gamers spend most of their free time behind the monitor of their computers (Christophers and Scholz, 44). They devote their real life to the 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 a complete waste of time.
The bright example of the controversy, which was mentioned above, is children and parents. In most cases, children stand for 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 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 world of the professional game.
Stories behind Professional E-Sport Players
To understand how people become professional e-sport players, the interview was conducted with Jonathan Wendel. He was born in 1982 and is known as Fatal1ty. As a professional e-sport player, he has secured winnings over US$500,000 and has competed in the Cyberathlete Professional League.
In the course of the interview, after being asked how he decided to become a pro in e-sport, he stated that e-sport from the very beginning was an extremely important thing in his life. Computer games occupied the biggest part of his life. He felt 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 the maximum in that field, and after that, due to constant training, he started improving his level through the development of analytical and playing techniques. Even though becoming professional in the electronic sports sphere was a difficult task, the 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 for becoming a professional was the wish to achieve true heights in his favorite sphere. He understood that playing games were 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 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 a 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 a 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.
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 a new audience and improving the course of the game. Moreover, currently, various investigations are being made to develop and improve the quality of graphics. Such issues are of preliminary significance for e-sports because they are directed towards their innovation.
Broadcasting: It is a major means of expanding e-sports’ popularity. 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 audiences 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 a 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 by 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, then returning to normal life becomes quite problematic.
Economic: It is worth mentioning that e-sport is quite complex, as it presupposes several economic factors. Its increased popularity brings several viewers, and it results in profit. Spectacular sports are always lucrative from a financial viewpoint. It has turned out to be a new business area that brings profit. Although 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 e-sport participation, the story of Jonathan Wendel should be reminded. He managed to achieve his goal, became a professional player, and obtained fame and a 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 a smart and bright student and showed amazing results while studying in high school. E-sport was his hobby and he participated in it to escape from the busy world, and feel himself the inhabitant of another virtual planet. At first, Tommy played games just to relax after a long school evening; however, over 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 a decent education.
Tommy wanted to become a 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 physical problems, which Tommy experienced after his constant playing computer games. The major issue was the fact that he had become detached from real life. For his parents, it seemed that he came from another planet, as he was distracted from real troubles, such as bills and payments. The only thing that interested him was e-sport. Tommy Lee is an example of unsuccessful participation in e-sports, which lead to the 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 ordinary leisure activity to the essential component of social engagement, culture, and big business. The participation level shows large youth involvement. Today, spectator involvement continues growing. The availability of different networks and the growth of Internet content through the use of computers, smartphones, and tablets, as well as the increased interest in international e-sports events, have resulted in a high number of spectators. E-sports have become a profitable business. But as with every kind of business, it brings success to a limited number of people and provides hope 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 with the new technical possibilities, innovations, virtual world, and their enormous power there. Such an artificial world becomes more valuable than a real one, and, as a result, people just lose contact with reality. It is significant to remember that today people live in an 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 losing contact with reality.
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