The history of esports: from the 80s to present


Many people think that esports has only been around for a few years, this is wrong! Many people are just getting to know about esports because of social media platforms like YouTube, Mixer, and Twitch. However, this is not a new industry. The foundation of esports dates back to the 50s, which was the pioneering era for video games and gaming competitions on computers or consoles. Technological innovations in the 90s only made video gaming more suitable for the general public. The growing development of graphics, hardware, and the expansion of the internet globally have all assisted in the development of esports as a significant activity.

What are Esports?

Esports is a broad term which does not only refers to competitive video gaming but also to the industry that supports it, as well as the skill-development path that amateur gamers take to become professional players. The enormous popularity of Esport makes it a desirable candidate for expensive business sponsorships; however, the lack of established standards and stability makes it a complex venture. Esports are distinct from regular video games because they are competitive and frequently have an interesting spectator component, just like a traditional sport. Professional or amateur gamers typically compete against one another in esports events, the pool prize at stake.

According to the Online Gamers Association, the term “esports,” derived from the term “electronic sports,” was first used in a news release in 1999. Esports is a brand-new sport that involves Generation Z and Millennials in competitive team play. Esports is a kind of sport that encompasses the entire gaming industry that focuses on highly skilled, competitive video game play to energize spectators, foster competition, and raise production standards.

The Computer Age

However, humans always played against the computer and could only determine who began.

The competitiveness of computer games dates as early as 1952. Alexander Shafto Douglas the computer scientist was working on his Ph.D. at Cambridge about the interaction between people and computers. He was the one that came up with the idea about “XOX” also known as “ Three Wins” of “Tic-Tac-Toe” as a PC game. Needless to say that humans always played against the computer and could only determine who began.

In 1958, the director of “Instrumentation Higinbotham” at the Open Day released the first real multiplayer game, called “Tennis for Two”, which allowed two individuals to play against each other. An early form of the joystick was used to play the game, with which players adjusted the trajectory of the ball and hit it over the net. This title is today considered as the birth of esports.

During the 1990s, it turned out that the fate of competitive gaming would be established in computers and networks. As equipment increasingly became more affordable and all the more advanced, PCs got fascinating for private family units and along these lines for the gaming business. During the 1990s, the initial huge LAN parties took place wherein gamers could fight against each other. Nevertheless, not only for a huge scope, yet most importantly taking things down a notch, gaming over the network applied an ever-expanding interest. Increasingly more gamers met at small network meetings and bet on their preferred games and many players finally got to know how to place bets on esports games making it all the more interesting to the players and the tournaments worthwhile. This wasn’t happening in the US specifically, much of it was seen in the Soviet Union, especially in today’s Russian territories and large cities.

The First eSports Tournament

In the early 60s, the first e-sportlike competition was organized. In 1962, the “Spacewar!” The space game had been written by computer scientist Steve Russel and some of his coworkers Wayne Wiitanen of the “Tech Model Railroad Club ” and Martin Graetz at MIT on a PDP-10 computer. With a set of players with one spaceship playing each other. Interestingly enough, the spaceships had limited fuel supply and weapons and had to battle against the planet’s gravitational field.

This is recognized as the world’s first digital game and in 2007, the New York Times named it one of the top ten computer games of all time. In October of 19972, the world’s first esports competition was organized by Stanford University Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence, called the Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics. The number of players that registered that day for the “Spacewar” tournament was 24. With the winner getting an annual Rolling Stones Magazine subscription. Most of the games during this period were limited to universities and other institutions that had the technical requirements for the activities.

Successes Of Arcades and Home Consoles In The 70s

The first game console that could be connected to a TV was released in 1972, called the “Magnavox Odyssey”. Although the use was very inconvenient for playing. The playing field had to be attached as a television screen template, and digital gaming later became appropriate for the general public through the use of this console.

Moreover, arcades were built during that period, which made it feasible for everybody to play at machines, like, Pong. Nonetheless, the competing character only got conceivable with the introduction of permanent high score records. In 1976, one main option with the option of the vending machine was “Sea Wolf”.

Starfire and Asteroids showed up in 1079, which were two machines that empowered gamers to immortalize themselves in a high score list initially with an individual name abbreviation. Since just a couple of machines provided the option of playing against one another, these rundowns turned into the measuring stick of playing capacity. In 1978, Atari laid the foundation for the world’s first major eSports competition with Space Invaders. And in 1980, the early game classic was played at the “Space Invaders Championships” by more than 10 000 gamers who went up against one another to win a form of “Asteroids”. William Salvador Heineman on the 10th of October 1980, was delegated champ of the Challenge. He was the pioneer winner of a national video game tournament.

The subsequent actions towards eSports also came from the USA. On the 9th of February 1982, Walter Day, the amusement arcade operator from Ottumwa in the state of Iowa established the “Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard”, the main arbitrator administration for computer games. The storyline was a 1982 Time magazine story about how Steve Juraszek, a 15-year-old, set an outstanding record at Defender. Walter Day, in any case, knew another young gamer in his arcade who had far outperformed this record.

In the wake of consultation with Williams the machine manufacturer and game designer Namco, he found out that there was no national best players’ list for Defender or other computer games, the primary flash for establishing his service. The name Twin Galaxies came from the name of his personal arcade. Besides keeping up a public record list, “Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game and Pinball Book of World Records” not too long turned out to be a widely applicable body of rules intended to prevent conceivable cheating or anything of that sort.

He established the U.S. National Video Team in 1983, the world’s first expert gamer group. He additionally held the “North American Video Game Challenge”, the first computer game experts competition in the USA. As a result of his broad efforts around the subject of “video games” he can unhesitatingly be called one of esports’ pioneers.

The First German Clan

In Germany in 1982, Armin Stürmer established the “Atari VCS Bundesliga”. Which was a community venture that soon stimulated the enthusiasm of Atari Germany because of the quickly developing number of participants. Different clubs went up against one another as indicated by a fixed body of rules in four rounds and various games. A15 minutes cutoff time was set for the players to get to as many points as possible. By the end of the year, the “German Champion” was determined. Atari previously left just three years after as an official partner. Besides, the Bundesliga was likely stopped in the same year.

In 1988, the first multiplayer PC game, Netrek was introduced, which could have up to 16 players going up against one another through the Internet. It was an actual strategy game in the Star Trek universe. The players assume control over the role of the Romulans, Federation, the Klingons, or Orion and need to conquer a universe consisting of 40 planets. Netrek was played everywhere in the world, however, as at the beginning of computer games, it was predominantly researchers, particularly PC researchers, who took on hot battles on the grounds that scientific organizations had early internet access.

Advanced Technology Makes Esports Suitable For The Public

Toward the start of the 1990s, Nintendo had additionally acknowledged the wonder of competition and in 1990, arranged the “Nintendo World Championships” in the USA. The champions of the competition, which was held in three age groups, got golden Nintendo gaming modules. The game was a marathon of Rad Racer, Super Mario Bros, and Tetris.

In 1994, “Blockbuster Video”, the video store chain, popular in the United States of America, organized a major world championship for video gamers in cooperation with the American GamePro magazine. The competition was played on the Sega Mega Drive and the Super Nintendo, together with Virtua Racing and Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

Most Popular Esports

There is no denying that esports, in general, have risen in popularity over the past decades. Every game genre has seen a significant increase in the competitive gaming industry. Fans swarm stadiums around the globe to cheer on their favorite team. Even though esports is a successful industry, they would be nothing without the viewers. The success of esports is attributed to the loyal devotion of their followers, who spend hours supporting their favorite teams.

League of Legends image

1. League of Legends – An online multiplayer battle arena game that is completely free to play. The game was created by Riot Games in 2009. There are 150 million active players monthly of League of Legends. With an average of 200,000 concurrent spectators, the game is the second-most streamed esports on Twitch. In the Summer, the annual League of Legends World Championships has the top Chinese teams. At the same time, the Spring events feature the top European teams, among the best competitions. 

Mobile Legend image

2. Mobile Legends – Mobile games have kept up with the popularity of PC and console games, particularly in Southeast Asia. Mobile Legend, created by Montoon, is one of the most well-known mobile games. It is an identical copy of the PC game League of Legends. The largest league, Mobile Legend Bang Bang Professional League, won the 2019 Indonesian Gaming Award for Most Favorite Tournament of the Year.

CS GO image
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3. Counter Strike Global Offensive(CS: GO) – A traditional one-person shooter popularly known as CS: GO was created by Valve and launched in 2012. Over 30 million gamers are actively playing CS: GO each month. In Eastern Europe, the game has attained mythical status and is well-liked throughout Europe. In Brazil, nearly 90% of men under 40 have played it at least once, including football sensation Neymar. One of the best tournament scenes in any esport is seen in CS: GO. The prize pools for these enormous competitions, which Valve sponsors and normally hosts twice a year in various cities across the globe, exceed $1 million.

Dota 2 image

4. Dota 2 – This game is a multiplayer online battle arena similar to League of Legends. Dota 2 was created by Valve and released in 2013. Nearly 10 million people play Dota 2 each month, which is a widely played game, especially in North America, Europe, and East Asia. Dota 2 is renowned for holding huge esports competitions with tempting prize pools. The largest esports competition of all time is undoubtedly The International 2021. The winning team, Team Spirit, took home $18 million from the $40 million prize pool.

Fortnite  video game image

5. Fortnite –This battle royale survival video game is available for free. When Fortnite was introduced in 2017, it quickly rose to the top of esports with over 20 million daily users. One of the largest competitions in esports history was also held at Fortnite. In 2019 the Fortnite World Cup had a $30 million prize pool wherein a 16-year-old boy won a total of $3 million during the said tournament. 

Esports Interesting Fun Facts (To be placed after Most Popular Esports)

 The names of Manny Pacquiao, Lionel Messi, and Kobe Bryant are well-known to most; these athletes are frequently regarded as the faces of their respective sports. While Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang, Luka “Perkz” Perkovi, and Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok may not be as well known yet, they are also on the verge of becoming household names in the quickly developing world of electronic sports. Here are some fascinating details about this booming sport among millennials.

1. Esports professionals are regarded as professional athletes by the US government. Prominent esports players are considered athletes under US law. Benefits ranging from special tax treatment to visa rights are available to anyone recognized as a professional athlete. 

2. More people watch eSports than the Super Bowl. More people watched the League of Legends World Championship in 2019 than the Super Bowl in 2020. The League of Legends World Championship Grand Finals attracted more than 100 million viewers, making it the most viewed eSports (and sports in general) event. At the same time, 98.8 million people watched the 2020 NFL Super Bowl.

3. The combined financial prize pools for the Fortnite and DOTA Championships exceed $30 million. Fortnite and Dota are well-known video games that encourage fierce rivalry and attract large audiences to their international championships. The prize money has surpassed the first-place payouts for Wimbledon and other prestigious sporting events because of the event’s extreme popularity and crowdfunding. The overall cash prize pool for Fortnite in 2019 was over $30 million, with first-place awards of $3 million and runners-up prizes of $50,000. It’s exciting to envision the future as each year’s prize record exceeds the previous one.

4. Popular eSports gamers have landed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Daigo Umehra, currently listed as having two World Records, is among the first eSport professional athletes who made an impact not only on the world of eSport but also in society. His global records for the most watched fighting video game and the most consecutive tournament victories may seem unimportant. Still, the fact that these achievements made it into the Guinness Book of World Records speaks something about the appeal of eSports in general.

5. Esports has become a significant area of academic study. Ten schools and universities, including well-known institutions like UC Irvine, the University of Texas, and The Ohio State University, have degree programs in the esports industry. Even more, colleges now provide competitive teams and extracurricular esports opportunities. These degree programs include a variety of subjects, including strategic statistical analysis, the financial elements of managing esports teams, and more.

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