You would never guess what is the newest spectator sport, drawing large crowds, as well as big money from various sponsors! It is something called e-sports, and it basically represents professional gaming.
It looks like gaming is not any more confined solely to individual players, each participating in a game from the loneliness of his or her bedroom, forming teams that meet exclusively online. The virtual world has now gotten spectators!
The game industry is huge (and growing). But only once you compare the game industry to the music and movie industry, you realize how big it really is. At this moment, the game industry boasts larger revenues than the music industry, and it is close second only to the movie industry. In this light, it may not be so strange for professional gaming to try to enter into major-league spectator sport arena.
Professional video game competitions are known as e-sports. These game tournaments easily sell out huge arenas – and, just like any major-league spectator sport, attract large at-home audiences.
The money, of course, follows. Recently, at a game tournament organized by the game developer Valve Corporation, and won by Chinese gamers, there was more than ten millions in prize money awarded. And, the place was crowded: there were more than ten thousand spectators! In response, the advertising giants are readily lining up as sponsors.
It may sound strange, but there are millions to be won in such game tournaments! Top gamers earn six- or seven-figure incomes. Similar to, let’s say, top football players, top gamers are able to attract fervent followers as well. Young players are now dreaming of fame and fortune!
Yes, there really exist professional gamers, and they are treated the same as any other professional athlete! US State Department is now granting visas to professional gamers, and universities have just begun to dole athletic scholarships to gamers. Even Ivy League universities have intercollegiate gaming.
The gaming craze has seen its biggest deal with the Amazon’s acquisition of a live streaming gaming platform Twitch – for almost one billion. Is this a bubble in the making? Who knows! In the meantime, Twitch will continue to serve as a platform where tens of millions of people are watching billions of games each month. One thing is for sure: the global phenomenon of video gaming is now a live, must-watch sporting event! Against all odds, gaming has become a spectator sport.
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