A person raising both arms in victory in front of a huge screen showing a virtual arena

An eSports competition in Moscow, Russia, in 2019.

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STANDARDS

NGSS: Core Idea: PS4.C

CCSS: Speaking and Listening: 1

TEKS: 6.2E, 7.2E, 8.2E, TA.6A

The Rise of eSports

 

Is video gaming on its way to becoming the most popular spectator sport in the world?

AS YOU READ, THINK ABOUT the technological advances that helped boost the success of eSports.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of sports fans would pack into massive arenas to see their favorite teams compete against one another. But at these events, rivals weren’t facing off on a field or court—they were sitting at computers playing video games!

When social-distancing restrictions prevented people from gathering in large numbers, these eSports events shifted online. But the change in venue didn’t make eSports any less popular. With the rise of live-streaming platforms for gamers like Twitch, more people are watching video game competitions. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, 82 percent of people surveyed worldwide said they played or watched video game content, according to the market research company Nielsen.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, huge arenas were packed. Thousands of sports fans came to see their favorite teams compete against one another. But players weren’t facing off on a field or court at these events. They were sitting at computers playing video games! 

Then people had to start social distancing. They could no longer gather in large numbers. So these eSports events moved online. But the change in setting didn’t make eSports any less popular. Twitch and other live-streaming platforms for gamers took off. Now more people are watching video game competitions. At the peak of the pandemic in 2020, the market research company Nielsen took a survey. Worldwide, 82 percent of people said they played or watched video game content. 

Rocket League

ROCKET LEAGUE

The start of eSports dates back to 1980, but modern competitions didn’t take off until the early 2000s. The internet allowed players from around the world to compete remotely. Today, some middle and high schools even have their own eSports teams. Members play games like Overwatch and League of Legends—online multiplayer games that involve battling an opposing team. Students meet up to test strategies, train with different characters, and practice for competitions. Amy Whitlock, a teacher and eSports coach in Oswego, Illinois, says, “Players are not just gamers. They’re athletes.”

The start of eSports goes back to 1980. But modern competitions took off in the early 2000s, thanks to the internet. Players around the world could compete from a distance. Today, some middle and high schools even have their own eSports teams. Members play games like Overwatch and League of Legends. In these online multiplayer games, teams battle one another. Students meet to test game plans, train with different characters, and practice for competitions. Amy Whitlock is a teacher and eSports coach in Oswego, Illinois. She says, “Players are not just gamers. They’re athletes.”   

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