Recently we have been discussing eSports at work, we were talking about various games like Minecraft, Grand Tourismo, and Apex Legends. I was excited to know that we will commence eSports lessons. It made me think a lot about my high school days when I used to play counter-strike with my friends. We used to all take our computers to one friend’s house and set up LAN (local area network) games. We would play all night and make teams and tournaments. It was very fun. This made me wonder about the history of eSports.
The first tournament
The earliest recorded video game competition was in 1972 at Stanford University. The game played was Spacewar and the grand prize was a year’s subscription to the magazine “Rolling Stone”. After that in 1974, Japan held a tournament called “All Japan TV Game Championships” which was organized by Sega. There were 300 local tournaments held across Japan and 16 finalized played for the grand prizes which included TVs (black and white! ), cassette tape recorders, and radios. This tournament was the first face-to-face arcade game competition.
Around this time in America, there are also a lot of local tournaments as well.
eSports before the Internet
When street fighter II was released it became so popular because two players could play directly against each other before this players usually competed for the highest score in a game. After street fighter II, other fighting games became popular and a tournament called Evolution Championship Series was helped in 1996. Unfortunately, since there was no streaming in those days not many people knew about these events. Nintendo also held a tournament called Nintendo World Championships.
The internet changed the game
When the Internet became popular it changed the world! The internet also changed gaming. Online games became very popular but in the early 2000s eSports was still not very mainstream. Some tournaments were televised and we could read about them online but the biggest jump in the popularity of eSports was when streaming video became possible. When online streaming services like YouTube and later Twitch became popular tournaments could be streamed and viewed in real-time across the world. This brought in a lot of revenue and tournaments became bigger and the prize money also increased. When I was in high school being an eSports player was more of a hobby but now it can be a career with the top players earning large cash prizes as well as sponsorship deals.
This was a very brief history of eSports and how competitive gaming grew from a small tournament at a University to what it is today. I am looking forward to joining eSport events at Robotec. Who knows maybe one of our students will become an esports superstar!