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Why Videogames and Esports Should Be Considered a Sport

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As the modern technology grows, computers and the internet begin to occupy a major portion of the lives of students; moreover, a new sport, namely the electronic sport, has gradually emerged among contemporary youths, and become one of their favorite entertainment and recreation ways. ESports, short for electronic sports, is a kind of intellectual confrontation between people using high-tech hardware and software equipment as sports equipment. ESports is not merely online gaming and can’t be simply described as playing a game. It is a competitive sport that requires communication and cooperation between players to function as a team, a vast amount of training to cultivate one's skills, and there will be many different tournaments to practicipate in.

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There are two different modalities in computer gaming that could be considered as eSports. One of which would be the multiplayer online battle arena, which is short for MOBAs. The other modality would be first-person shooters. These two types of modalities were being view as competitive teams “whose aim is to beat the opponent” (Llorens 467) and they “are easily identified with the competitive practice involving high degree of skill that gaming as a sports practice requires” (Llorens 471).

In MOBAs, there will be two teams with five people in each team. Each team player “plays in a different position and engages in a different role” (Llorens 471). There are many different characters with its own specific skills in the characters bank that’s allowing the players to choose. Therefore, each individual plays has to be familiar with the abilities of different characters in order to expand their characters bank, so they could use different characters to compete with the opponents. On the other hand, first-person shooters is a subjective-view team game that facilitates triumphs by shooting opponents down. Player who plays the first-person shooters game has to knows the ability of different weapons and be familiar with using them. Also, under the knowledge of how to use different weapons, “the precision in shooting is the game’s cornerstone” (Llorens 471). For examples, DOTA2 by Valve Corporation and League of Legends created by Riot Games belongs to MOBAs game and the Counter Strike series by Valve Corporation is a first-person shooters game.

Both MOBAs and first-person shooters games “require a lot of concentration, precision, team rapport and shooting skill… since the games are different, both for their rules and their mission, the practices diverge slightly” (Llorens 471), which makes eSports comparable to traditional sports, since the latter also has a high requirements on concentration, skills, and many specific details.

ESports is “similar to traditional sports, the performance of esports teams is influenced by team dynamics” (Tang). Team dynamics is something that can provide encouragement in between the team members, which is forming consensus within the team and to generate common strength by having good communication with each other. Tang states in the article that “team dynamics and communication as potential barriers for esports players in achieving optimal performance” (Tang), which indicates that there are a huge correlation between team dynamics and communication. They depend on each and other, where one will have a tremendous influences on the other.

Similar to traditional sports, “esports players need to communicate with teammates effectively and operate as a team” (Tang). Communication is the essential component to operate a team effectively. Communications within the team determines the characteristics of the team, the management of the team, the learning organization of the team, and the personal growth of each team members in the team. “A team may view communication as a tool for achieving better performance” (Tang), so communication is also a lever to coordinate internal work. In a team, there are often frictions, contradictions, conflicts, and misunderstandings between team members, which will affect the atmosphere of the whole team, the morale of team members, and the efficiency of organization.

Team cohesion is an invisible spiritual force and an invisible bond that closely links the team members together. We “accepted that team cohesion facilitates cooperation among members and contributes to team performance” (Tang), the cohesiveness of the team comes from the inner motivation of the team members. Team cohesion is a necessity that helps all teams together whether it is traditional sports teams or eSports teams. “For professional teams, the objective of winning becomes… crucial, which puts the players in a tough position where in order to win they must be able to collaborate under pressure” (Tang), in this case team cohesion is not the only necessary condition for maintaining the team's existence, but also plays an important role in the team's potential. Team cohesion will also produce interdependence within team members, which it could help each others to reduced pressure from a high pressure atmosphere.

Many people may have a misunderstanding about the eSports players. They think that eSports players only needs to plays on the stage, and they would easily receives a large amount of incomes. Is a common knowledge that the practice time for a traditional sports players would be over forty hours a week on average, but not many knows that eSports players also practice over forty hours a week on average or sometimes even more than that. For example, in League of Legends by Riot Games, there is a player named Lee Sang-hyeok who goes by Faker in the game. Faker is viewed as the genius in League of Legends, but he claims himself “‘practise a minimum of 12 hours a day. Sometimes 15 hours a day when it’s close to a match’” (Hattenstone).

The daily life of the eSports players is basically covered by training. During the daily practice and training time, the eSports players are having training on muscle memory, concentration, coordination, and many other subjects. Each eSport players requires “plenty of physical action and effort” (Parry) in each game. “Each game lasts an average of 35 min and the players cannot leave it if it has not finished” (Llorens 466), which provides a substantial amount of time to train for muscle memory for fingers and hands, because “there is plenty of skill involved in manipulating those little buttons” (Parry). Compare to eSports players, the traditional sports players train for muscle memory for their entire body, these muscle memory allows the players to have a faster reaction to certain situation appear during the game.

Coordination is a necessity for a sports player. They needs to have a combination of the coordination ability of mind, eyes, limbs, and willpower, the ability to concentrate, and the thinking and reaction ability together. “The players engage in a practice requiring a lot of skill and ability to master the attacks or the weapons; they need a lot of precision and concentration, body control, endurance, fast movements and team strategy” (Llorens 467). ESports is a sport that needs to be judged and responded to, the players need to have a high concentration and focus on the game, and through all the information they have already mastered, they have to make pre-judgment to the game, respond quickly to the changing situation, adjust the mentality and overall strategy and tactics for the game. It is the same for the traditional sports players and eSports players, they all “require a high degree of concentration, skill, precision, body control and strategy” (Llorens 467) during the game.

When it comes to eSports, the tournaments is a absolutely unforgettable portion. To audiences and casual games players, tournaments is a visual feast to see the professional players and how they operate the game. Differently, to eSports players, tournaments is the place where they shows off the skills they have, give back to the fans’ support and the most importance is to enhance the reputation and fame of the team. Each tournament will always be offering the winning team with prizes, and the winning team will also got a chance to enhance the reputation of the team, it bring honors and prides to each individual team players. Getting a good placement in tournaments will also leads to gaining favor of the traditional sports franchise owners. The traditional sports franchise owners see the malleability in the eSports industry, so they “eager to expand into the esports industry to profit from revenue streams including sponsorships, merchandise, tickets and media rights” (Tang). The involvement of the traditional sports franchise owner will be based on the reputation of the team, which “would likely lead to more permanent franchises, stable contracts, and team-centric advertising” (Tang). These are the requirements and benefits that keeps the eSports team operates. The eSports system grow more and more like the traditional sports system, since eSports and traditional sports are both sports.

Each individual tournaments is dedicated for a specific eSports game and each tournament will always be offering the winning team with prizes. “The biggest one offering a prize pool of an amazing $5,070,000.00” (Sara), and the prize pool of the tournaments is getting larger. The global eSports economy will grow, that “we estimate the esports industry will reach $1.4 billion by 2020” (Pannekeet), this estimate shows the eSports industry is growing in a rapid speed, which means if the industry grows, the prize pool will also grows. As the prize pool grows, the incomes of the eSport players will grows accordingly. This is similar to traditional sports players, the more the players wins, the more valuable they are.

Other than MOBAs and first-person shooters games mentioned previously, there are still many different types of computer gaming, but not all computer gaming is considered as eSports. There are some computer games that doesn’t have a final victory, it just merely set as an level up gaming system with different opponents set by the system previously and doesn’t have lots of variability throughout. These type of computer games are “not fundamentally constituted as competitive personal interaction” (Llorens 467), but rather they are the choice of entertainment for students and the younger generation. These type of game is a way to escape from pressure and is a place to relax for many people, and it is for people who doesn’t like competitive games. These type of game doesn’t have a requirement of high skills, precision, concentration, and strategy, and there will be no tournaments for these type of game. For example, World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment would be one that is considered as this type of game.

ESports should be considered as a type of sports because due to many similarities between the eSports field and the traditional sports field. ESports players is the analogous to traditional sports players that they all require a powerful team dynamics and strong team cohesion for good communication and cooperation within the teams; they have the same amount of training time, while training mostly for the same subjects; and shuttle in various tournaments to gain reputation and fame for oneself and for the team. Therefore, I believe that some types of computer gaming should be considered as sports. In the future, eSports should be treated the same way as a traditional sports. Also eSports players should be treated as professional athletes.

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