Browsing Category Esports

The potential of the e-sports industry (and the people who don’t understand it)

Dear e-journal,

Whilst my studies previously had a diminishing effect on my activity on Gamers Decrypted I am now finding that my current uni project has done the opposite. I have encountered a new exciting phase in my education which requires me to conduct my own smaller research project. Of course, given the choice of what to focus my research on, I went straight towards gaming – this to the horror and dismay of my supervisor. Together me and Ludvig (my studymate and partner in crime – for the next few weeks at least) will have a closer look at the communication channel Twitch and how it can be used by professional gamers to build and maintain relationships with their fans. Therefore I’ve been spending some time looking over the latest figures and the PVC e-sports consumer market report.

As you might remember from my article “Your typical e-sports fan”, 36 million people watched the League of Legends World Championship finals last year. This was already a larger number than that of the people who watched the World Series or the NBA finals. This year the League of Legends World Championship finals was seen by 43 million people. According to the PVC report, the audience watching electronical sports has now grown to contain 70 million people. That’s 10 million more than the population of the UK! This is a fascinating growth for anyone interested in the e-sports industry or marketing. Since the attention of people truly is the most expensive currency in the world today, this is huge. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to focus my research around this flourishing but relatively unexplored industry. I eventually found someone crazy enough to agree to conduct the research and write the paper with me.

The first step for us was to pitch our research project to two professors. The goal here was to convince them that our chosen field of study was relevant for the academic field of media and communication science. Our pitch resulted in one of our professors looking confused and the other raving on about the wonders of future marketing methods connected to the research we would be conducting.

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Your Typical Esports Fan – Let’s call him Alex

It’s Monday 8 am as I’m writing this post. This morning finds me in a favourite coffee shop of mine, not far from Trafalgar Square. Considering I’m off work today you might wonder what I am doing here so early (I know I am) or maybe you don’t care at all. Either way I will tell you. After a night of limited rest, instead of trying to fall asleep again I decided to come here and do some research on a topic that has interested me greatly the last few weeks. The subject in question is Esport – the Esport fan base to be precise.

Professional gaming has had my interest for a long time. However, my curiosity for the identity of it’s audience specifically was sparked when I came across some fascinating statistics. Did you know that in the year of 2013 – 32 million viewers tuned in to watch the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship whilst only 15.7 million watched the NCAA Basketball finals? Last year, according to LoL Esports, “peak concurrent viewership” (PCU – the highest number of fans tuned in at any one point) for League of Legend Worlds was 14 million. LoL Esports also claim that the overall unique viewer count for the Finals 2015 was 36 million.


Why do these numbers excite me so much, you might wonder. Because Esport is still at it’s infancy. I can’t help but wonder about the potential of the industry and the effect it might come to have on the world of sports as we know it. What is clear is the considerable marketing opportunity this new industry provides. Esports have an audience of incredibly engaged fans who have proven challenging to reach through traditional media channels. Advertising through Esports is also done at a low cost in comparison to other marketing channels. This is because professional gaming is still a relatively new market to invest in. Though marketing strategies might not be as interesting to the average GD-reader as it is to me, I implore you to indulge me, just this once. I’ll even tell you why I find it is so deeply interesting, if you didn’t already close the page at the first sight of the words “marketing strategies”. Because if we start looking at the Esport scene from a marketing perspective, we need to ask ourselves: Who are these 36 million people tuning into the League of Legends Worlds last year? And all of a sudden it becomes relevant to you and I as well. Marketing teams need to know the identity of the audience because it’s important in order to get the most out of their money. You and I want to explore it because we are tired of the same drawn out stereotype defining a gamer in today’s society. So let’s do a bit of research and find out more about the Esport audience.

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Are pro gamers athletes?

Today I stumbled across the video below on YouTube. It made me wonder. Are gamers athletes? What defines an activity as a sport and a person as an athlete? Is it the physical effort? Strict rules and competition? Does the skill level have to be high? Does the person have to be a professional? The definition seems ambiguous at best. Golfing, dancing, curling and even chess are all activities considered sports yet most people outside the world of gaming would hesitate before calling a PC gamer and athlete based on his performance in a video game.

Oxford English Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” In this definition video games fall short, but so do other sports that are still socially accepted as an exception to the rule. Other activities such as Cheerleading (which has been determined by a federal judge to not qualify as a sport) should by the Oxford English Dictionary indeed classify and be up on the list together with football and basketball.

What’s your opinion? If you are (or hypothetically were) a professional gamer, would you call yourself an athlete?

Photo attribution: Photo derived from “Ases en la EPS” by artubr licensed under CC by 2.0

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