As a society, competitions have been a huge source of spectatorship. Sports like baseball, football, and basketball draw huge viewing crowds at the game-day venue, in sports bars, and at home. With advancements in technology, we can now stream these games online and watch them anywhere. However, the rise in technology has also created a whole new sporting segment competing for viewership: esports.
What Is Esports?
The term “esports” is short for “electronic sports.” It is defined as “organized video gaming events or tournaments that culminate in championships at regional and international level, in which professional and amateur players compete against one another.” These games include:
- Sports games (Madden, FIFA, etc.)
- Fighting games (Super Smash Bros.)
- First-person shooter games (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, Overwatch, etc.)
- Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games (League of Legends, etc.)
These tournaments and competitions have grown exponentially in popularity over the last few years. Last year, global esports economy grew to just over $905 million. Viewership increased nearly 30% year over year from 2015-2016, with the number of hours watched jumping to 2,077,897,606 in 2017. In fact, it’s becoming much like major league sports, with the 2017 League of Legends championship having 1.5 million fewer viewers than game 7 of the NBA finals. Viewers can watch via YouTube Gaming or Twitch, a website dedicated to streaming and watching gaming.
What Do Other Professional Athletes Think?
Believe it or not, professional athletes are huge participants in the world of esports. Some MLB teams have setups in the locker rooms for players to use, and there have been reports of players playing in between innings! Owners like Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots have noticed the popularity growth, too, and have joined the realm of esports by forming their own teams. But the question remains: are these gamers truly “professional athletes?”
Professional Esports is Not a Game
Esports is a very serious way of life for many people, and those who hit “professional” status live and breathe the sport like many professional athletes. Teams hire coaches, trainers, nutritionists, etc. and practice for hours a day to gain an edge over the competition. The US government has recognized full-time League of Legends players as professional athletes, and companies like Monster and Adidas are jumping at the opportunity to sponsor teams and events.
There are still some who roll their eyes at the thought of gamers begin considered “professional athletes.” Regardless of how you feel about it, esports is continuing to grow rapidly, both in popularity and monetary worth. By 2022, it’s estimated that the total esports revenue will triple to nearly $3 billion.
Impact on the Eyes
April is Sports Eye Safety Month. Whether it’s sports in real life or esports, eye care professionals need to know how to help keep their patients’ eyes performing their best. In a survey of 500 US adults, 92% of respondents admitted to experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain. Top complaints included tired eyes, headaches, and eye strain. Aside from staring at a screen for up to 18 hours a day, professional esport athletes can experience exacerbated symptoms during tournaments and competitions due to the bright stage lights and increased pressure. Considering their livelihood/high score depends on not breaking concentration, these problems can end up being detrimental. It’s important to know what suggestions you can give to patients to reduce symptoms, whether they’re a near-professional esport athlete or an average working adult. Learn about the ways to help reduce digital eye strain.