Fans flock to esports

November 4, 2016

Last year, when I created a web portfolio to showcase some of my writing and video work and labelled myself a “multimedia journalist,” the term earned a few scoffs from some of my classmates. “Multimedia journalist,” they sneered. “Sounds a bit high-brow to me.” Well, the joke’s on you now, Matt. The term is being used all over the place. Like in the “about” section of an online news platform I recently discovered called Circa, for instance. I think the title fits; you need to promote a versatile skill set within a world where it pays to go digital. Journalists need to be versatile in how and what they’re able to cover.

Putting aside its sensationalized headlines and seemingly un-proofread copy, Circa is an interesting amalgamation of trending and happening newsworthy stories. It covers politics, world news, science and tech, music and it’s the first news publication I’ve seen to forgo the balls, fields and pucks of traditional sports for dedicated esports reportage.

If you don’t know and I mean, why would you – you’re reading the traditional sports section of this paper – esports is the moniker given to the growing (and already vast) field of hardcore competitive video gaming. When I say vast, I mean it. A recent study by the digital game thinktank Newzoo lists 2015’s esports revenue at S325 million (a 67 per cent increase from 2014). Some esports tournaments, like the 2014 League of Legends World Final, pack tens of thousands of fans into stadiums normally reserved for World Cup soccer games (the prize pool for the tournament was valued at $2.13 million). Twenty seven million people watched the event’s webcast. Newzoo predicts esports’ merchandising, ticket sales, advertising, sponsorships and media rights will be worth over $1 billion by 2019.

In Circa’s esports section you’ll find up-to-date results on the latest competitions, game reviews and more. And with a heightened awareness, I’ve begun to see esports coverage appear in streams of other traditional media sources. You have to dig deep, but TSN has an esports section buried in their menu tabs. The Score curates an esports website and the latest League of Legends world champion, whose fans (disciples?) call him “god,” just published an article in the athlete-written Player’s Tribune.

The glory of football jocks and lettermans no longer rules the zeitgeist. The gamers of the world have marched proudly out of society’s basement and made their impact on entertainment and pop culture, proving that they aren’t the pasty-skinned, anti-socialites we thought they were. Does this mean LAN-parties really are parties? I guess so.

Coverage of video game events might seem out of place in the sports section of a newspaper right now but in a world full of industries being smashed into ones and zeros, it looks like sports are headed to the mound next. Multi-media journalists take note.

– Connor O’Donovan, Sports Editor

Image from Engadget