ESports Evolution: A Brief History
It is in human nature to compete. For as long as we can remember, people have engaged in various competitions against each other, going to great lengths to prove who’s best.
If you told the teenage versions of our writers that a day would come when they could compete in international competitions by playing video games, they would never believe you. In fact, youngsters have been scolded time and time again for spending too much time playing these games. Well, just like competing is in human nature, so is progress. Things have progressed, and here we are holding international competitions involving video games, or as we call them in our industry: electronic sports. Let’s talk about the origin of eSports, and how they eventually became a part of the iGaming industry!
Where did it all come from?,/span>
To understand the history of eSports, we have to go back to the very beginning. Video games have been around since the 1940’s. Comparing the earliest ones to today’s games clearly indicates how far they have progressed in terms of graphics, storytelling, and gamification. The birth of video games also gave birth to the “pros,” who were much better at playing them than everyone else. That part hasn’t changed. We still have video games, and we still have pros. Combine those pro skills with the natural desire to compete, and viola! You have video game competitions!
1970’s: Baby Steps
When we think of eSport competitions, our mind automatically associates them with online gaming, and for good reason. However, the first video game competitions were held before the internet – as we know it today – even existed. In 1972, a group of Stanford University students competed against each other in Spacewar tournaments, which can be considered the first event of its kind. Two years later Sega held the All Japan TV Game Championships. While these events and those similar to them were the precursors to the modern eSports competitions, they were still isolated events taking place in different countries. What’s more, players didn’t really compete against one another in the same games. It was more about “who’s better at playing this or that game.” But that was all about to change soon…
The Golden Age of Arcade Games
Following the release of Taito’s Space Invaders in 1978, a new thrill was introduced to video game enthusiasts: the subtle art of keeping high scores. As a result, Atari held the Space Invaders Championship in 1980, which was the biggest event of its kind in America. Suddenly, gaming was no longer a past-time to drive your parents mad. It was becoming something more serious, culminating in the establishment of the U.S. National Video Game Team in 1983. Yes, we now had a professional team of gamers! They were competing in multiple tournaments, appearing in television shows and even had their photos printed in magazines. And it was not about to stop!
Street Fighter 2 and the Birth of the Internet
Our time machine brings us to 1991, which saw the release of the classic Street Fighter 2 from Capcom. A game in which players could directly compete against each other in the same game, in the form of different characters (our writers’ favourite was Blanka). This revolutionised competition gaming because before Street Fighter 2, competition was mostly about beating the other team or player’s high score. Now, you could “beat” the other player in the same game with another character!
This was also a time when the first ever eSports competitions were held, such as the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, which ushered in the era of international video game competitions. Gamers from different countries could finally show their skills! By 1994, game studios had already begun developing video games emulating real-life sports (e.g. NBA Jams) which are now some of the most popular ones around the world.
Keep in mind that the 90’s also gave birth to the Internet. Players could now engage with each other using PCs around the world, and this paved the way for international multiplayer championships and strategy games such as Warcraft and StartCraft. Counter Strike also became hugely popular, and internet cafes were soon full of teams who would compete against each other for a grand prize.
ESport evolution has not slowed down in popularity ever since the first events were held in the 1970’s. We now have international leagues, teams, eSport celebrities, and of course, more games! Aside from the classic Warcraft and Counter Strike, the increased usage of handheld mobile devices have given rise to new games such as League of Legends and Dota 2. And where there’s competition, there’s always betting! Nowadays, you can bet on various eSport tournaments around the world and most iGaming Sportsbooks such as Technamin’s Sportsbook now offer eSports alongside traditional sports betting.
Many countries have set up branches in their Sport Ministries to better regulate eSports and create safe environments for both players and those who bet on eSports games. There is even talk of including eSports in the Olympic Games, even though there is still debate as to whether we can consider them as actual sports. Progress has been made, with the 2022 Asian Games in HangZhou, China offering eight eSports games as part of their competitions.
New emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality are expected to introduce fresh avenues into the eSports category, adding more excitement to the experience of both players and bettors. The ever-rising popularity of eSports betting is a clear indication that operators must include these sports in their Sportsbooks. Technamin’s fully customisable Sportsbook includes the most popular eSports which are guaranteed to catch the customers’ attention. Contact us today to integrate it into your iGaming business and be part of the exciting journey involving these sports!
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