The purpose of this article is to give those who do not know anything about esport, (or eSport) a better understanding of what it is.
In short: eSport is simply an abbreviation for Electronic sport, for the competitive playing of video games.
There are of course a lot of competitions in which gamers play for prize money. The most famous competitions are Dreamhack, LCS, ClanBase, Electronic Sports League (ESL), Major League Gaming, Electronic Sports World Cup, QuakeCon and BlizzCon.
To be in the top, you have to do extremely well and will compete with other top teams and players by yourself or with a team. It's not as easy as it seems. Being good at a game require skills and dedication if you want to qualify yourself for a high level tournament and win prizes. The competition have always been incredibly huge and strong.
(Picture 1 - Competetive gaming Intel Extreme Masters 2012 (c) Reuters)
The bedrock of competitive gaming revolves around those individuals who want to draw more from their game experience and take public gaming further.
Players can play through an internet connection on dedicated servers. Servers are frequently run and configured by players or administration to a standard set by leagues, tournaments or groups of players. People can play these games both online and offline - and no, this doesn't mean you have the capability of playing A multiplayer game with your friend while the internet is switched off.
Tens of thousands of people can also gather in locations around the world, where they will take their own computer or rent one for what are people most often refer to as "LAN Parties". For want of a better description, here is one from Wikipedia:
"A LAN party is a temporary gathering of people with computers or game consoles, between which they establish a local area network (LAN), primarily for the purpose of playing multiplayer video games.The size of these networks may vary from the very small (two people) to very large installations. Small parties can form spontaneously, but large ones usually require a fair amount of planning and preparation. As of 2010, the world record for the size of a LAN party is 12,754 connected systems, set at DreamHack, in Jönköping, Sweden.
LAN party events differ significantly from LAN gaming centers and Internet cafes in that they generally require participants to bring your own computer (BYOC) and are not permanent installations, often taking place in general meeting places or residences."
When players find themselves wanting more than a mess around on a public server, they find themselves naturally progressing towards a team of one kind or another. There are several different levels of teams from those starting out with friends playing with friends to salaried professional players representing large gaming organisations. Most, if not all teams, will use a voice communication programme to co-ordinate, depending on how organised they are. Some examples, from the bottom:
The mechanics of an esports team are really more detailed than I'd care to go into right now, but the basic idea is this: you take the leap from public gaming where you'll find a significant gap in skill difference. You either weather that and crack on, improve your game and find a team of players at the same level of you, or you wither away like a piece of fruit left in the sun to your public server haunts. People who embark upon the first option will find themselves flung into a strange and wonderful world; an upward spiral of things that will test their mental and social capacity with the others they call their team-mates.
Teams at whatever level can and will create strategy and tactics to outsmart their opponents. Tactics evolve over time and teams must adapt. Any team wanting to make it at a relatively high level will have a good grasp of the tactics and strategy in the game at that time and be able to adapt should they need to.
Let's take Counter Strike as an example:
Each player in the team has his/her own role whether that be covering a certain area of the map or using the sniper rifle to make long-distance shots. Regardless, players must have sound communication skills to co-ordinate their attack or defence on a map.
As a game between two teams progresses, there is at the very basic level a need to alternate the bomb sites at which the Terrorists will plant, and the Counter-Terrorists must react accordingly. This results in a number of different strategies from "faking" one bomb site with smoke or flash grenades or a full rush on another. Of course, it becomes a little more complex than this with some incredibly skilled, experienced and innovative players going head-to-head.
It's worth making a brief note on maps here in eSport. Many maps, especially in Counter Strike, are designed with competitive gaming in mind, especially if they have been created, designed and implemented by modifications by players or organisations. Like in any battle, there will be areas where you can gain an easy advantage over your opponents, and there will be areas which will leave you exposed to an enemy onslaught.
(Picture 2 - The map Dust 2 in the game Counter-strike:GO, which probably is the most popular map in the world of gaming.)
The creativity of these maps can determine the calibre and dimensions of competitive gaming in that given game: maps will be designed in such a way that funnels enemy teams together, creates open ground for rushing, or give viewpoints onto bomb sites or enemy spawn points.
Are you still confused as to why people put so much effort into playing computer games? For this last and final point in my guide to competitive gaming, I'll try and summarise what makes it so special for those involved and why teams build up such large fanbases.
The stats for gaming speak for themselves. People want to be part of this growing market, and not just the public sales market. All over the world gamers want to take that next step into the competitive gaming scene where they'll want to build on their raw talent or create the next best team.
Some people want to play games competitively with friends, to have a taste of the high octane matches to keep things exciting for them. Others aspire to be the best in their game and use the professional players as inspiration for this. We all start at the bottom and it's the players at the other end of the spectrum which spur newcomers on. The chance to have your match commentated on in front of thousands of people, a chance to show off your skills and develop an online reputation.
(Picture 3 - The top Ukrainian team Na´vi won The International Gamescom Dota 2 2011 Tournament Over EHOME.)
Some people play simply for the thrill of winning, and that really is the key in my opinion. The competitive gaming scene is filled with people who like winning, and winning big. The hunger to take your game to the next level on a platform where, if you have what it takes, you'll be playing against the pros a lot quicker than you might think. More often than not this brings about excitement in itself for fans and players alike as players years in the making have their debut for a newly formed team crammed full of raw talent, the next level of strategy making and the potential to make it big.
The first argument you are likely to make when someone calls StarCraft an eSport is that for it to be a sport, requires you to be outside and involve walking, running, jumping or another physical force.
A standard definition of sport says that it requires individuals or teams to compete through physical force. Both definitions focus on competition with physical actions. With eSports instead of directly influencing a game, the players indirectly influence a game by manipulating electronic devices.
The acceleration of a mouse or rotation of a joystick both are physical actions that influence a game. The key difference between a sport and an eSport is that the audiences watches the virtual result of a player's physical action instead of the physical action itself. In StarCraft, you watch the marines march across the map not the players hand accelerating, adjusting, decelerating across the mouse pad with their fingers compressing and decompressing the mouse buttons.
An eSport is where a player's physical actions create virtual results that determine the final outcome. StarCraft and similar games are not like traditional sports, they are a new type of sport, an eSport