By Michael Le, Egg Harbor Township High School
EGG HARBOR TWP. N.J. — Video games have been a staple of our culture for many years and has attracted even more players as we head deeper into the digital age.
Although many play games casually by themselves or with friends, others have taken the time to become the best in their game and compete against other top players for glory, and in some cases, millions of dollars. As a result, esports, the competitive sport for video games, is taking off as the next high level, entertainment competition.
Although relatively new, esports has key components that allow it to be viewed just as well as any other traditional sport. Esports contains: teams, players and coaches, high level competition, a set of rules, and an audience willing to be entertained. Also unlike other sports, esports branches off into multiple titles that each have their own respective players.This can range from critically acclaimed fighting games such as Super Smash Bros. to strategy based sports games like Madden.
Esports has even gathered the attention of schools nationwide. These schools have developed esports programs for students to compete and interact with others with the games they enjoy.
Egg Harbor Township High School is among these schools that have started to expand into esports and believe its here to stay.
“It’s inevitable that esports will come to high school,” Egg Harbor Township High School Educational Media Technology Director Mike Sweeder said. “The kids enjoy it, the parents can’t stop it, and it’s a great opportunity for them to interact with others and compete in this type of way.”
During Egg Harbor Township High School’s esports meetings, students gather and play a variety of games after school. Starting in Spring 2020, the club plans on joining the Electronic Gaming Federation to participate in a competitive high school Super Smash Bros. league. Regardless of whether the students play casually or competitively, everyone shares their passion for gaming.
“Esports club offers students a safe and friendly environment to play video games and develop good digital citizenship,” Esports Club Advisor Tyler Gardner said. “It has been rewarding to watch friendships grow as students have begun playing with each other in school and online.”
In July 2019, two million viewers pitched into live streams of the Fortnite World Cup, a tournament grabbing the best players of action shooter game, Fortnite, to eventually watch 16 year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf win a grand prize of $3 million dollars. But many question where is the profitability of competition like this compared to other sports.
In 2018, esports total revenue came down to $906 million, expecting a growth of 27.4% to $1.6 billion by 2021.
As we head into further years, established franchised leagues such as the Call of Duty World League and the Overwatch League have already accumulated millions of dollars through teams buying placement into their limited slots, with one team buying in for $26 million. Investors have been taking steps in order to preserve the esports economy and ecosystem in the long run. As esports is still in its development phase, the growth of the new sport in traditional, amateur, and high school settings is continuously on the rise and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.