The competitive gaming sector has enjoyed a dramatic rise to prominence over the past few years. Research suggests that more than 450 million people watched an esports tournament in 2019, and viewership figures are projected to continue soaring. However, a number of antiquated stereotypes still blight this rapidly growing industry, so it is time to debunk the top five myths about esports:
Esports Only Appeal to Geeky Teenagers
The stereotypical gamer is a nerdy kid dwelling in a fetid basement, subsisting on pizza and energy drinks. That stereotype is tired, and it could not be further from the truth in 2020.
A decade ago, esports was a niche, underground pursuit, but right now it is bang on trend. The younger generations have grown up with technology and they hero worship the leading gamers.
On many campuses, gamers are the new jocks. Pro gaming is an extremely aspirational lifestyle for people from all walks of life, and the top players have massive fan bases spanning a wide range of demographics. The leading pro gamers train like traditional athletes and they are hot on nutrition. That inspires esports fans to follow suit.
Many of the best players are teenagers and young adults. However, the largest age bracket for esports fans is 25-34, according to Statista, while 10% of viewers are actually over 35.
Gaming is growing increasingly popular among the older generations, thanks largely to the inexorable rise of mobile gaming. There is a natural tendency to want to watch the exploits of the finest players on the planet, meaning that esports like StarCraft 2, League of Legends, CS:GO and Rocket League enjoy broad appeal.
That trend will continue in the years ahead. Current fans will remain passionate about esports as they grow older, while emerging generations are likely to prefer esports to traditional sports. Once popular pursuits like baseball, golf and horse racing are diminishing, and esports are replacing them. This is not a mere pursuit for geeky teenagers; it is an economic juggernaut beloved by millions.
You Cannot Make a Living as a Pro Gamer
Try telling that to the five members of Team OG, who have each earned more than $5 million thanks to their success at Dota 2. N0tail, JerAx, ana, Ceb and Topson have won The International for the past two years, which accounts for most of their wealth.
The International 2019 carried prize money of $34.3 million. The Fortnite World Cup handed out $30 million. A teenager from Pennsylvania walked off with the first prize of $3 million by winning the solo tournament. A number of fellow gamers earned life changing sums of money at that event.
In total, 83 gamers have earned more than $1 million in prize money alone over the course of their careers. However, those sums are dwarfed by the media rights and sponsorship deals on offer for the most popular gamers. Ninja was reportedly paid somewhere between $50 million and $100 million to move his content from Twitch to rival streaming platform Mixer.
Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook are battling to dominate this space, and they are throwing money at players in order to secure content. Many more gamers have found innovative ways to monetize their content. Teams also pay salaries to their players, helping many gamers making a great living by doing what they love best.
Esports Hinder Academic Performance
Some teachers worry that students are spending too long playing video games and not enough time doing their homework. However, there are a number of benefits to encouraging students to partake in competitive gaming.
It builds up STEM skills – professional League of Legends players are generally from strong science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds. It helps youngsters contribute to the school ecosystem, while being part of an esports team motivates them to behave well and attend classes. It keeps them out of trouble and away from drugs. And it can make them rich, as we have seen above.
Esports offer a thrilling blend of entertainment and education, helping children develop skills in leadership, communication, coordination, problem solving, concentration and teamwork.
A survey of 281 technical and administrative leaders across K-12 and higher education institutions in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Middle East, found that one in five schools already have an esports program, and 71% are considering or might consider adding an esports program in the future.
Gaming is Anti-Social and Leaves People Isolated
The concept of gamers being isolated loners is well wide of the mark. The vast majority of esports are team-based games that require cooperation. Gamers team up with their friends to take on squads of rivals, or make new friends around the world and bond over a shared love of a game like Dota 2, LoL, Overwatch or CS:GO, creating thriving online communities.
There are all manner of LAN events taking place all over the world, along with plenty of conferences. They bring gamers out of their homes and into contact with one another. Young people are seeking kinship, and esports allows them to achieve that.
Developments in virtual reality will improve connections between gamers all over the world in the years ahead, and esports can be the glue that holds it all together.
Esports Needs Olympic Recognition to Gain Credibility
Some commentators believe that the esports industry is desperate to be featured at the Olympic Games in order to boost its popularity and gain credibility. The president of the International Olympic Committee has indicated that games like CS:GO and Dota 2 are too violent to be part of the Olympics, prompting some commentators to describe the news as a blow to the esports sector.
That could not be further from the truth. The Olympics needs esports much more than esports needs the Olympics. Rahul Sood, founder of Unikrn, a popular site that allows wagering on video games, said: “It’s extremely unlikely top athletes would choose the Olympics over top esports events. It’s misguided, or egotistical, of mainstream culture to think the Olympics are somehow a greater honor than The International, worlds or a CS:GO major.
“The Olympics would include esports to get young people to watch their event, not to get older people to watch our events. Because of that, the only financial benefit of the Olympics would be exposure to brands somehow unaware of esports, which would help accelerate the inevitable.”