Where did competitive gaming start?!
Cast your mind back to October 19th 1972. You stand in the halls of Stanford University, blissfully unaware that in but a few short moments, history will be made.
On this day, the first legitimate video game competition took place. Stanford students came together to battle it out in a test of skill on Spacewar in the “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics” for the prize of a yearlong subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
Little did they know; this small university competition would spark a flame in the hearts of competitive gamers worldwide, kickstarting a movement that would later form a billion-dollar industry. Spanning countless games, individuals, and organisations all over the globe.
Despite the “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics” attracting a sizeable audience, it was quite some time before any “real” waves were created. Considering that a large percentage of the “competitive gaming” that we know requires an internet connection, and the World Wide Web wasn’t available to the public until April 30th, 1993!
Now, fast forward to the present, the internet is life, gaming is a part of the daily life of millions, and competitive gaming is a powerhouse industry with a seemingly insurmountable drive for expansion. This drive has taken gaming and completely transformed it from something that was only ever seen as a hobby into a very plausible career choice for those willing to put in the hours!
How can gaming be “competitive”? You’re just playing games!
The idea of “Competitive gaming” started to make the rounds after the Spacewar Olympics. After that competition, there were many local tournaments on a mixture of different games over the years. Kicked off by the rise of Street Fighter after the 1991 Milpitas competition.
The fact that Capcom sponsored the competition reassured people that there was a genuine interest in competing in a game. There are now competitions on Halo, Counter-Strike: Source, Street Fighter and more taking place in just a short time following the first handful of competitions.
Now some are very sceptical of competitive gaming; they don’t believe that it can be classified as a sport, disbelieving that it’s something you could turn into a career or realistically pursue. We live in an age where this is now an incredibly outdated mindset, competitive gaming is a very real thing, and thousands of people call it their career.
The reality is this. Thousands of individuals spent years honing their skills and refining their tactics and mindset to be the best. Organisations are now formed to further help teams achieve their goals and more accurately focus their abilities! For more on Orgs within Esports, take a look at our previous blogs on our partnered teams, Excel Esports and SK Gaming!
Now whether these players focus on Call of Duty, Halo, League of Legends, Valorant or a considerable number of others, these individual players all developed the skill to beat their opponents and remain entertaining to the masses watching at the same time, and that takes some serious work! Moreover, use a professional CS:GO player for example; They will have an immense amount to learn! Callouts for individual parts of every map, typical team rotations, weapon recoil patterns, when to push/defend, grenade spots for the best effect, safe and dangerous spots to peak and hold… you get it.
The amount of passive knowledge these players must be able to pull forth is brain-bustingly vast, and it takes years of constant learning to gather this knowledge.
Competitive gaming now attracts an immense viewership regardless of the platform. Competitive LoL, Valorant and CS:GO tournaments often attract viewership in the hundreds of thousands on Twitch, and venues are often filled wall to wall when the events are held live. These live events can have some pretty hefty prize pools. For example, the 10th Dota International in 2021 had a prize pool of 40 million dollars… 40 MILLION. I think it’s safe to say that’s more than career worthy if you have the skill and the fire to pursue it.
Is competitive gaming really a sport? Surely not! Unless…
In my eyes, yes. We now know this as Esports. As mentioned before, some are sceptical of this. However, esports has cemented itself into such a position that arguing the fact is a fruitless endeavour. For many years now, the competitive side of gaming has required players to be at their absolute peak, all the time, no matter the conditions.
The requirements, should you be interested, are practice, mental/physical conditioning and even the correct nutrition. So, what else needs this? Football, Formula 1, Tennis, Rugby… You get the idea. The amount of work required to maintain optimal performance on a game outside of the game almost clears up all argumentative opinions without anyone having to say a word.
Where is Esports going?
Given the exponential growth of competitive gaming and esports, it’s safe to say that it can only go up. In the past decade, it has exploded into a titan industry with a massive presence in many games across the entire planet. This growth shows no sign of slowing down, so we can expect to see even more mainstream coverage, more featured games, broader audiences, and even more career opportunities created.
As our world increasingly becomes technology-dependent, I see this as an absolute win. More growth means more developers will want to get in on it, more developers getting involved means more creative ideas ,and the introduction of intuitive new mechanics and this, in turn, creates an influx of new tech, which starts this whole journey again; from the beginning!
The sky is the limit, following the insane technological advancements in hardware and software over the past few years. We will likely see record-breaking viewership on the currently played games, with plenty more joining the fray as the industry becomes a titan!
It’s a fascinating time; whether you’re rooted in the industry or new to the scene, keep your eyes peeled as there will be some big moves happening before long.
Okay, I’m interested… but where do I start?!
Firstly, you need to figure out what you like. There are many genres, so that is your first step. If you’re a fan of a tactical RTS (Real-Time Strategy), it would be worth looking into Starcraft; the competitive Starcraft scene was an absolute mammoth with some serious players!
If you are the systematic type who likes to think a few steps ahead, you have a variety of TCGs (Trading Card Games) you could choose from, Gwent, Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering… Take your pick! If you want to get your FPS (First Person Shooter) fix, that’s the absolute goldmine! Halo, Call of Duty, Quake, Valorant, CS:GO and many more!
I would recommend watching and learning a little from every different genre. Even though you may have a type that you like to play, you may have a different preference; for example, I’ve been addicted to RPGs (Role Playing Games) and Looter Shooters for the past couple of years; however, I will watch competitive Apex until the sun comes up!
So go on, dig into the competitive scene, and find your thing. It’s worth the time; seeing what gaming has now become is fantastic. Going from a group of guys having some fun at a university; to spreading a newfound passion across the entire planet.
Competitive video games, huh… Who’d a thunk it?!