Video games sure have come a long way since Pong!
Back in the day, friends would hang out at each other's homes playing video games in friendly competition for a lowly wager, bragging rights or pizza and beer. But now, the world of competitive video gaming (also called electronic sports or eSports) is a fast-growing international phenomenon with millions of fans and billions of dollars up for grabs.
The Drink Company (known for their Christmas, Game of Thrones and Cherry Blossoms pop-up bars) has partnered with Events DC on its latest pop-up bar, this time with an eSports theme, which made me curious: WTF are eSports?
Level up; click the link to find out!
What the heck is eSports?
First, let's break it down. eSports is a form of competition using video games which uses multiplayer games and professional players to compete each other. Basically, it's moving competition on a field or courtyard in the real world to the digital world.
Who is crazy enough to watch people playing video games?
There are approximately 300 million eSports fans in 152 countries that watch games online through streaming platforms like Twitch.tv. People can also watch eSports tournaments live with thousands of other fans. In the DMV, there are multiple professional video game teams, fan clubs with dedicated followings and even an esports gym for young players to work with coaches.
Ok, so what does this have to do with DC?
eSports is big business. Events DC, the city's convention and sports authority, is banking on it. The city is putting major money into becoming the eSports capital of the gaming universe.If the idea of people gathering to watch other people play video games makes roll your eyes, consider that esports are already a billion-dollar industry and that by 2021 they are predicted to have more viewership in the US than every professional sports league except the NFL.
This fact was shocking: video games have surpassed music, film and sports industries when it comes to its incomes!!
DC is putting major money into building up its eSports cred, starting with investing in its own team, sponsoring a major player (see what I did there?) in the industry; and construction of the multipurpose Entertainment and Sports Area in Congress Heights last year that is "fully tailored and wired for esports."
Events DC has also been actively promoting the District as an eSports destination at national events for a number of years. "Levels Unlocked: House of DC Heroes," the recently launched an eSports-themed popup bar in partnership with Derek Brown's Drink Company is actually a repeat; it debuted at SXSW last year.
Wait, did you say DC has an eSports team?!
Yep! Get ready to root, root root for the home team--the Washington Justice. The team represents the entire Capital Region from Baltimore to Richmond in the Overwatch League, which is an international esports league comprising 20 city-based teams, featuring the best Overwatch players on the planet.
The team includes:
But is eSports really a sport?
Well, like any traditional athletic sport or chess and poker which are considered "real" sports, you have to be really, really, really good. Lightning-fast reaction times, precision, and high-level strategic thinking are all must-haves in the world of competitive gaming. Professional gamers often practice for 6-8 hours a day.
Contenders for the world championships have nutritionists and fitness coaches and only the best players in the world catch the attention of sponsors and organizations. And as a sign of its global popularity, electronic sports will be added as a medal sport to the Asian Games in 2022. Boom, how do you like them augmented reality apples?
I'm sold! Where can I see an eSports game?
Take a look at the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in the Southeast district of the city. The stadium offers a multi-purpose space to cater to basketball matches and concerts, and has been wired to ensure that it meets the demands of the region’s gamers.
From a press release: “We’ve been on a three-year journey to make esports the focal point,” says Events DC CEO Greg O’Dell, who expects the team and esports competitions in general to be a draw for tourists to Washington.
“Esports, generally, as a market, is growing exponentially, faster than any of the traditional sports,” O’Dell says. “And oddly, some of those traditional sports have seen some decline in their attendance. For that reason, we as a city, and Events DC specifically, have been very bullish on making the investment in this ecosystem to support growing esports in Washington,” O’Dell says.
In that case, game on. Pass me a controller, I need to practice!
Do you think DC will become an eSports capital? What's your opinion: is eSports really a sport or not?
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