The process of socialization is heavily constructed by the mass media because of their undeniable ability to encircle us consistently. Video games fall under that category as one of the pioneers to drive a person’s viewpoints and living practices. Esports, as a more defined form of this procedure comes off from the foreground of video games in general. Out of all the media platforms in modern day world, Esports has turned into a surefire contender to enlarge its perks in front of the global audience; eventually becoming a mass media giant.
There was a time when video games were considered merely as a form of entertainment. As the video game industry evolved over the years, the utilization of their products has been diverse in nature. It is no more just another source of fun or entertainment but rather in many was has given birth to a new genre of sports, specifically electronic sports. Esports has strived upon competitive video gaming and it has been a gradual process. Video games such as Valve’s Counter Strike, EA Sports’ FIFA, Dota and others have created a global landscape of competitive engagements both in online and LAN forms but that is not it. Recently Esports has received a new boost in its active audience through live streaming. Popular competitive gamers are streaming their gameplay actions through various internet sources, platforms such as Twith, Youtube and even Facebook. People who aren’t into the competitiveness of these games are not shying away from enjoying these live streams which just gives credibility to its promising aspect of becoming an attractive mass media producer.
It is necessary to cultivate the reason behind so many people choosing electronic sports over physical or active sports nowadays and even engaging themselves in game streaming contents. Game streaming and Esports itself have created a tandem which paved pathways for other activities such as game-related gambling, Esports betting and various companies to invest themselves in providing loot boxes.
Esports has unconditionally influenced the commercial side of the video game industries. It seems like the companies and developers are more eager to produce a competitive or online-based video game rather than classic single player- campaign driven ones. Perhaps it has to do with the current audiences’ taste but the it can be seen that people are investing themselves in fast-paced competitive games which go under the umbrella of Esports compared to the classic ones, both as a consumer and a viewer of live streams.
The post-2005 period has invigorated this gaming industry in a different way with the ‘Digital Rights Management’ or DRM of a video game is being tied to clients such as to Steam or Origin. These clients have made a huge impact on the Esports community because of their user-friendliness and customer support. These platforms are also giving options to share a video game with other accounts and vice-versa, providing a more comprehensive experience overall.
Theorizing the Concept of Esports
It is compulsory to accommodate certain theories of media to evaluate the presence of video games and particularly Esports in our lives.
Active Audience Reception Theory
This theory states that audiences don’t just absorb everything they are told but are actually involved, sometimes unconsciously. In this context, the consumers are the video gamers, Esports players themselves who are voluntarily taking upon various video games to spend time in and also implementing their own ideas and opinions. Therefore, the audience or the players are more than active in the process of interaction between the entertainment source and them.
Cultivation theory is a social theory which examines the long-term effects of television, in this case video games and electronic sports. Cultivation leaves people with a misperception of what is true in our world.
This theory explains that how the consumer’s or the audience’s idea over social reality is vastly influenced by the virtual reality and culture they invest themselves in. The hypothesis explains that the time people spend in video games and practice Esports, the more likely they are to divulge themselves in that virtual world, misinterpreting the social reality because of vagueness.
Hypodermic Needle Theory
This theory argues that the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by ‘shooting’ or ‘injecting’ them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response. As Esports video games are a massive part of mass media in modern world, it is imperative to stretch their influence on people’s minds. Virtual reality, cultures, stories, ideas and beliefs are hitting the gamers severely, especially the youth. Their process of socialization is going through elements iterated by the scripts, histories of video games. The effects of the games suggested that the media could manipulate a passive and gullible public, leading theorists to believe this was one of the primary way media authors shaped audience perception.
Critical Overviews of Esports
Michael Wagner articulated that the term ‘eSports’ dates back to the late 1990s. In a press release back in 1999, the Online Gamers Association (OGA), eSports was clearly compared to a form of traditional sports. In the US and Europe, competitive gaming is associated with internet network-based gaming, largely first-person based shooting games. The 1993 release “Doom” and 1996’s “Quake” by id software made tremendous impact over the youth. Slowly the gamers collaborated themselves and formed ‘clans’ and teams which are still relevant to this day and by 1997 many professional and semi-professional online gaming teams, leagues had emerged. In 1999, the game development company Valve released “Counter-Strike” which earned its massive popularity in competitive gaming and has since kept the central element in Esports event all over the globe. On another note, Koreans emphasized on another genre of video games- “Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Games” (MMORPG) and also “Real Time Strategy” (RTS) such as StarCraft, which streamlined alongside first- person shooter gamers. ESL, World Cyber Games and other various gaming evens are bringing western and eastern culture altogether, making stride in the annals of the term- sports.
Juho Hamari and his fellow researches implemented on their ‘Game Media Consumption’ research that, live-streaming has become an interactive form of internet-based multimedia source of entertainment which has evolved rapidly worldwide after 2011. It has grown so popular that in some cases, people are watching others play a video game than doing that activity or playing that game by themselves. Dissimilar to previous streaming in the likes of television and YouTube, this form of live-streaming advocates real-time human interaction in between the streamer himself and the viewers which facilitates their capability of interacting with each other. This has been possible because of the technological development but not to forget that this is a result of a patient generation who spent a vast majority of their time with video games impartial of them being either competitive or just casual play.
“Consuming digital game content through recorded and streamed video on services such as YouTube and Twitch has become a significant aspect of modern gaming and online media culture, and the audience for game video content has been reported to reach over 665 million people. The majority (73%) game video content consumers have been known to have a previous relationship with digital game culture.” (Torhonen, Sjoblom, Vahlo & Hamari, 2016)
Originality as a Media Platform
It is important to classify the definition of media beforehand, which would be means of technology and the delivery of messages through multiple platform which are intended to reach a mass audience.
Mass media means technology that is intended to reach a mass audience. It is the primary means of communication used to reach the vast majority of the general public. The most common platforms for mass media are newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet. The general public typically relies on the mass media to provide information regarding political issues, social issues, entertainment, and news in pop culture. Video games distributed for computers or consoles are very much in the race of being a mean of communication and interaction.
Video games and their sublots ‘Esports’ have occupied a central and pivotal role in our lives, providing a continuous and rapidly expanding flow of information and leisure facilities. Our age, our gender and social class are factors which all appear to have important implications for our amounts of viewing. This is called media saturation, which is the constant flow of media regardless of the source. Another way of indexing the ‘media saturation’ of contemporary culture is to examine available evidence which charts either the diffusion or the developing ‘spread’ of media hardware or the circulation of media products, facts that go very well with Esports and video games.
“eSports” is an area of sport activities in which people develop and train mental or physical abilities in the use of information and communication technologies.” – Michael Wagner
Since the year 2000, trends have shown a steady rise for video game market with newer, affordable video gaming systems have debuted. Family-oriented and diverse video games are being produced by the developers now more than ever and of course, online games have been gradually achieving their place on the peak. Esports has paved a new path for competitive gamers to showcase their skills, which are virtual but not disregarding. People are investing so much time and wealth into this contemporary multimedia source which has become a cultural mainstream.
“Online capabilities that developed in the 1990s and expanded in the 2000s allowed players to compete in teams. This innovation attracted larger audiences to gaming and led to new means of social communication.” (Lule, 2013)
Commercial and Negative Aspects
According to research from Newzoo, almost 588 esports events (majors) were organized in 2017. Newxzoo’s report also suggests that the majority of the Esports followers are also CNN viewers in the United States.
Esports revenue has surpassed almost $906 million worldwide in 2018. By 2020, that number is expected to go beyond 1 billion.
This is a lucrative market beyond the players themselves, but also for brands and video game producers. EA Sports’ Madden 19, featured tournaments in Jacksonville, Florida which is part of the long-running EA Sports Madden Franchise. Since its inauguration almost 30 years ago, the Madden Franchise has sold over 130 million copies, accumulating more than $4 billion in revenue. Madden has been one of the core video games which resembles Esports in the United States for both the players and the viewers.
Media is the ultimate manipulator in modern day world and video games, Esports are major derivatives of it. There are several dark perspectives of Esports, first off it is not a physical ‘sports’ fundamentally and requires constant attention and focus. Because of it being a virtual sport, a video game, it comes with plethora of health derogatory perks. Not everyone is Jaroslaw Jarzabkowski or pashaBiceps of the Virtus.Pro clan who simultaneously possesses body fitness and higher-level expertise in his competitive gaming. Esports requires a whole lot of sitting in front of the screen, longtime investment results in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity. Strenuous sessions consisting hours in front of the screen, sitting at the same place can manifest strains in multiple areas of the body which could sustain for lifetime. Not to mention, Esports is another source of entertainment and just like television or social media, people get easily addicted to it.
According to the ‘World Health Organization’ (WHO), video gaming can result in ‘gaming disorder’ which defined by WHO as:
“Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
In 2011, a video gamer even died at an internet cafe who spent three continuous days at that place. In 2014, a newborn died just because their parents were too busy in video gaming. Competitive gamers are now even going for performance enhancing drugs, medicines which would keep them awake and energetic and also being alleged of doping. Cheating, match-fixing are also simultaneous parts of Esports nowadays. Virtual reality is constraining the brains of the users constantly and creating a fake or delusional imagery of everything, affecting their mental health in the worst way possible.
It is inevitable that Esports and video games have captured huge prosperity in current day world as a mass media platform. It has become a medium of connection between people not just nationally but internationally, perhaps now more than ever. The world is shifting into a more obliged world where people are becoming self-centric in a lot of ways. Throughout history, multiple mass media platforms have acknowledged, entertained and intertwined people of different religion, race and ethnicity. This paper has validated facts in favor Esports to be categorized into those mass media platforms. To further evaluate the contemporaneous presence of Esports, its commercial boundaries have also been featured in this paper which shows that it is not only a competitive scenario for people to invest in but live streaming has also become a major part of it as a whole. Competitive video games include and enact numerous parts in the human circle which run from the feelings to incitement of the subjective zones to the size of qualities, social allure and social relations. Wants, fulfillment, and satisfaction have dependably been solid inspirations for human activity and don't rely upon where individuals originate from or the kind of amusement being played, nor do they rely upon the sort of individual the player is, his general orientation or social foundation. What has been stressing specialists the most as of late is the compelling and gigantic utilization of the virtual world as an "exercise center" and "theater" for abilities that are mysterious or minimal utilized, all things considered. It is safe to say Esports has emerged as a colossus in contemporary mass media.
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