The Surprisingly Long History of eSports (infographic)

Whenever you think about eSports, there is a pretty good chance that the image coming up in your head would look kind of like a scrawny teen or someone in their early twenties, wearing glasses and hunched over in front of a screen playing a game that came out recently. However, the fact of the matter is that eSports are a lot older than you might believe. Even though a lot of people seem to think that eSports have a tendency to be the domain of youngsters, and they often use this as an example of how soft the younger generation has become, yet in spite of the fact that these are the views people have, the truth of the situation is that eSports are a decades old phenomenon and indeed preceded the personal computer revolution of the 1980s.

It’s fair to say that the commercialization and mainstreaming of digital gaming is a relatively recent phenomenon, being only a decade or so old, and while the older version of these sports did not involve an industry that had a billion dollar value attached to it, they were still good examples that helped shape the way online games are currently played in this modern day and age.

It can be said that the first ever eSports tournament was played in 1972 in Stanford University, and the videogame that was used in this tournament was called “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics”. The prize that the winner received was pretty meager compared to modern prizes that frequently enrich the people that win them, consisting of just an annual subscription to Rolling Stones magazine. However, this was a historic moment because of the fact that it marked the first occasion where a game like this actually ended up being played in a truly competitive way all in all.

In the 80s, advances in gaming technology began to make it so that digital sports became far more widespread. The creation of improved and more efficient consoles helped make video games a lot more accessible than they had been in the previous decade, and what’s more is that more options started to become available for playing games at home with Nintendo as well as Sega offering their own competing consoles.

Competitions happened quite often but they were not occurring on an official basis and were not endorsed by any major entity in the videogame industry. This was the case until the 1990s, when four different legitimate tournaments started occurring, with the most prominent of these leagues being the Nintendo World Championships which involved a thirty city tour in the US and also gave the winner a luxury television set, something that was enormously valuable in the 90s and was a big step up from the kind of prize that was offered at the very first contest.

Over the next two decades after being legitimized, internet sports started to become more and more prominent in the mainstream. Amazon was the first tech company to get a stake in eSports by purchasing Twitch, and now Google has Stadia and Microsoft has Mixer so this is clearly going to be a priority for them going forward. All in all, eSports are now thoroughly mainstream and it will be exciting to see where they go from here.

Take a look at this infographic from VisualCapitalist for insights on eSports journey to mainstream:

The History of eSports (infographic)

Read next: The Techy Business of Mobile Gaming (infographic)
Previous Post Next Post