Anyone with their fingers even remotely close to the pulse of gaming knows that eSports have blown up in popularity over the past few years. With thousands of gamers competing and millions watching, the phenomenon has come a long way in a very short period of time.
Now more than ever, players are considering pro-gaming as a valid career, especially in the U.S. Professional gaming isn’t exactly a new phenomenon: Gamers have been paying the rent using their gaming skills since the 90’s (longer if you consider bar room bets and living room tourneys) but it wasn’t until Blizzard Entertainment came along and released StarCraft II in 2010 that eSports really took off in a big way and became the hugely successful spectator sport it is today.
Major League Gaming (MLG), founded in 2002, has become one of the world’s largest and certainly most prestigious eSports organisations and is one of the major contributing pioneers of eSports in America and worldwide. According to their website, “MLG is one of the fastest growing digital networks worldwide, the most recognised brand in eSports and pioneer of the competitive gaming industry and our mission is to promote eSports globally through premier competition and to deliver premium gaming content to viewers anytime, anywhere through our global streaming platform.” Ten years after their founding, MLG is enormously successful and still growing offering their players hundreds of thousands of dollars in prized via premier online and live events.
According to MLG over eleven million viewers watched the four 2012 Pro Circuit Championship events online compared to just over three million viewers for the same events the previous year. That rapid increase in viewers is amazing and the trend continues. Since MLG’s launch, other large eSport leagues and tournaments have begun popping up as well. Even the game developers themselves such as Blizzard, Valve, and Riot Games are getting in on the action and running their own tournaments. When all is said and done, the popularity of eSports has risen so dramatically due in part to basic human nature: humans are a competitive species.
We have a desire to partake in and view competition at its highest level and video games are no exception to that rule. Professional gaming may seem like a pipe dream profession to some and a fringe society dweller’s hobby to others but the fact remains that professional gaming is a huge and growing industry and is considered a legitimate spectator sport by millions with some countries such as Sweden and South Korea broadcasting eSport tournaments on national television. Professional gaming is here to stay and its future looks bigger and brighter each year.
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