How does the meteoric rise of esports in the west affect the popularity of online gaming in general?

Albert Sheng • September 20, 01:16

If you had asked a random person on the street what esports was 10 or even five years ago, they probably wouldn’t have had any idea what you were talking about. But recently, esports have exploded in popularity across North America and Europe. How will this meteoric rise affect the popularity of online gaming in general?

Online casino gaming

As esports has grown in the West, so have online casinos. This is more than just a coincidence. The growing audience and consumer base in both sectors are the result of increased acceptance of online alternatives to traditional land-based activities. This is especially apparent in the rise of online casinos. 

Many people who would not previously have been interested in online gaming are interested in online casino gaming because it is more familiar. Among the games offered, casino slot machines are particularly popular. These are also more like mobile games, which similarly have seen a huge rise in popularity.

Idols

Sports stars have long been held up as idols for children and young people to aspire to follow. Now that esports is more widely recognized as a sport, professional gamers can step into these shoes. Besides the physical aspects, both traditional sports stars and esports stars can inspire through their talent, determination and commitment to self-improvement. 

For many parents who have previously seen video games as a waste of time or as a problematic habit, seeing these young esports competitors as potential heroes for their kids and teenagers can change their stance on video gaming in general. That said, there’s been a never-ending stream of controversies around prominent figures in gaming so there are definitely some pitfalls as well.

Female gamers

Unlike traditional sports where men and women must compete in different leagues, esports make it possible for male and female gamers to compete together. The gaming world has long had serious issues with misogyny and violent sexism. This has contributed to many women not feeling comfortable playing video games, or choosing to not use voice chat in order to avoid dealing with toxic male gamers.

Female esports streamers are challenging this status quo and because of their visibility they are making it a better environment for other women interested in gaming. As popular female gamers such as Macaiyla deal with harassment in public forums, studios and moderators are more likely to take action. This lets male gamers know that their behavior is inappropriate and will no longer be tolerated. 

The public nature of the harassment also leads to more open conversations about what life is like online for women. This new awareness for male gamers will hopefully inspire them to speak up and call out other men for their actions when necessary.

Game development

One of the biggest impacts that esports has had on the gaming industry is the increased development of games that are suitable for competitive multiplayer play. As Jerome Solomon has argued in his work on industry changes, the main focus of developers will be on games that encourage collaborative competitive play. 

He explains how this transition will be easiest for sports games, since that’s the perfect medium for collaboration. Similarly, adventure games should be easy to adapt to team play, as a multiplayer modes can be added to an existing single-player series, removing the need for world-building from the ground up. Even for non-professional gamers, having the opportunity to play more collaborative games will be an enjoyable development that will encourage the development of interpersonal skills, not just gaming expertise.

Communal gaming

The days of LAN parties might be largely in the past but communal gaming endures. Venues such as Las Vegas’ HyperX Arena at The Luxor provides professional and non-professional gamers alike with the opportunity to play together like esports stars. Obviously, gamers don’t have to be in the same room to play together but playing in the same room as your teammates or opponents adds an entire extra dimension to the online gaming experience. Getting together to play online games as a group is most likely going to increase in popularity as esports continue to grow in popularity.

The world of esports is such a new and exciting part of gaming that it’s hard to predict how it might impact gaming more generally. Precedent suggests it’s likely that these developments will be positive.

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