(COLORADO) — Esports has been around longer than most people may realize, with its origins beginning in the 1970s and evolving into a nearly $2 billion industry.
According to Esports.net, the birth of esports took place at the Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics where more than 24 players competed for the grand prize of a Rolling Stones magazine subscription. This was also the era of arcade games where players would compete for the highest score in games like Pong, Seawolf and Asteroids, and Starfire.
Atari hosted the first international esports tournament in 1978 with its Football game. Just a couple of years later in 1980, “the game Twin Galaxies was created and with it, the appearance of a new tournament,” Esports.net shared.
Another major moment in esports history is that of the foundation of the German Atari VCS Bundesliga team in 1982.
“It was quickly captured by Atari due to its growth and several clubs started competing with each other to determine a winner. This way, the champion of that league was chosen at the end of the year, and, although this only lasted for 3 years it set the ground for all the nice esports teams we now see on major tournaments,” Esports.net said.
The 90s saw the growth of the internet and with that the growth of PC gaming. Games like StarCraft, Doom, and Age of Empires transformed the gaming landscape and heralded a new era in esports. Genres became more clearly defined as well.
In the 00s the first multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game took center stage in the form of Defense of the Ancients (DotA). Microsoft released its Xbox and saw games like Halo 2 take off in popularity. Tournaments saw more modest prizes, compared to now with $1,000 awards.
Esports.net said, “From that moment on, the prizes were increasing, sponsors began to have a greater interest, and in general, all the platforms wanted a piece of the pie.”
The next evolution of esports took place before the eyes of those who watched, specifically those who watched the rise of streamers on platforms like Twitch. From individual gamers to tournament teams, players used streaming to gain notoriety and fame, reaching a much larger audience than ever before.
Sponsors began to notice these enterprising gamers and the markets they reached. Food and drink companies computer manufacturers, and others sponsored teams and got their cut of the pie that was esports.
Multiple games have gained popularity over the last decade that have flooded the consoles and PCs of thousands of gamers. League of Legends, Rocket League, and Fortnite are some of the more notable titles from the past ten years or so. Per Esports.net, “The Fortnite World Cup 2019 raised a prize pool of 100,000.000$ and over 2 million spectators.”
Video games are constantly evolving and the future of esports is wide open. PCMag has a whole list of games for amateurs and long-time gamers alike to check out in 2023. Esports has spread far and wide and is fast becoming a viable source of income, be it college scholarships or as a member of a professional team.
High schools around the area are gearing up for the Spring Major, run by the High School Esports League, which began on Monday, Jan. 23, and ends on April 26. The regular season begins on Monday, Feb. 6.
Scholarships can range from $500 to upwards of $20,000 per year at some schools, depending on the games played.