Visitors use consoles at the Cyber Games Arena esports venue in Hong Kong. At 25,000 square feet the Cyber Games Arena claims to be the largest integrated esports stadium in Asia.

Visitors use consoles at the Cyber Games Arena esports venue in Hong Kong. At 25,000 square feet the Cyber Games Arena claims to be the largest integrated esports stadium in Asia.

When you think of a sporting event, what do you generally imagine? A roaring crowd, two teams lined up face to face, the electric energy of competition, and … gigantic screens to watch video games?

Esports is a relatively new phenomenon that attracts big crowds, skilled players — and huge payouts. CNN reports that this year, the industry is supposed to bypass one billion dollars in revenue.

Players from around the world gather to compete in multiplayer games that range from the wildly popular Fortnite to lesser-known but highly competitive massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs.

ESPN already covers esports as its own genre. And other media companies are capitalizing on the rapid success of esports, leading to big sponsorship deals and packed arenas across the country.

These platforms aren’t just about video games, either. Earlier this month, EDM artist Marshmello streamed a concert to millions of Fortnite players.

And cities like Washington, D.C. are investing in new infrastructure to support the industry. They’re betting that esports will become just as popular as the region’s hockey and basketball teams.

From WAMU:

Imagine, in 2025, going to watch D.C.’s Overwatch team take on competitors from New York or Seoul. Then, wearing a jersey with your favorite player’s handle on it, you stroll to an esports-themed bar for a nightcap with fellow fans. Down the street from the bar, there’s a training facility where young players hone their skills in hopes of making it to the arena one day. Over a microbrew, you learn your friend’s daughter in college is playing on a varsity Overwatch squad, with dreams of landing in that training house after graduation. By the end of the night, you’ve spent a couple hundred dollars and you’re filled with pride for your city.

We’re exploring the new world of competitive gaming and how it changes the way we think about what it means to get your head in the game.

Produced by Paige Osburn. Text by Jake Rutter and Gabrielle Healy.

Guests

  • Emily Rand Staff writer, ESPN eSports; @leagueofemily
  • Barry Lee Agent, Evolved Talent Agency; @Eidelweiss
  • Dominique "SonicFox" McLean Professional eSports player; winner, eSports Player of the Year - The Game Awards 2018; @SonicFox5000
  • Chris Hopper Head of eSports - North America division, Riot Games; @RiotChopper

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