There isn’t much that resides in the real world that can’t be replaced or at least emulated to some degree in the new digital landscape. We used to send letters and now we send texts, we gathered for meetings in rooms now we Zoom and Skype across vast distances, we used to carry around paper money and now we just flash a card through a reading machine. For better or worse, everything is moving on and do so at an alarming pace.
Even sports are evolving. Physical feats are perhaps the most real-world competitions you can have, the absolute one-on-one challenge for the human body. And whilst such events aren’t in danger of being replaced by a digital alternative, new online sports are popping up as alternative pastimes every year. The question is not so much will these new sports ever replace the more traditional forms but will they become more popular.
E-sports, as these new competitions are being termed, take the concept of home video gaming and write it large. Popular home games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Halo, and Call of Duty are now being played in front of spectators and for large cash prizes, and new companies are bringing new arenas and platforms to the market all the time. Gaming companies such as E also offer all manner of apps and competitive games design specifically for the e-sports community.
E-sports offers plenty of advantages over traditional competitions. With the skill requirements based more around dexterity, intuition, speed of thought, and reaction time, they create a level playing field. Physical sport generally seperates male and female competitors, operates grades and divisions based on weight and age and even requires whole different events for the less able-bodied. E-sports does away with any such concerns and allows players of any age, gender, and of varying physical ability to compete with each other.
Not only do such competitions offer something which brings a wide demographic of players and fans together in a way that traditional sport does not, with the amount of money to be won and the level of sponsorship rising year on year, E-sports may also one day give physical sport a run for its money.
But will E-sports ever overtake traditional sport? I suspect not. More likely they will continue to grow, perhaps even equal the popularity of things like football, baseball, and athletics, but with them both appealing to very different markets, I suspect they will always stand apart as very different communities.
But then again, I may be wrong.