The History of Competitive GamingCompetitive gaming, now commonly known as electronic sports or professionalgaming, has virtually been around since the introduction of video games, themselves.While many individuals and groups of friends/acquaintances held their own privatevideo game tournaments and competitions, the 1980 Space Invaders competition isrecognized as the first (“official”) organized competition.• Held just two years after the release of the game, the 1980 competition, organized by Atari, is said to have attracted over 10,000 participants!
With the success of the 1980 Space Invaders competition, others began taking advantage ofthe desire for competitive gaming.• From its earliest stages, Walter Day was able to recognize the importance of video games, and the increased popularity that the industry would soon obtain. • With this mindset, Day pitched an idea to ABC – he wanted to televise a video game competition on national television. Like many of that era, ABC was also able to understand the growing popularity of video games, and agreed to televise the “First Video Game Invitational” on its popular series, “That’s Incredible!” in 1983: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO3ctKcI8Kg • Day later created the United States National Video Game Team in 1983. • The team would travel the country in somewhat of a tour bus, visiting arcades and attending various competitions, displaying their dominance and love for video games.• Hollywood even tapped into this newfound interest in competitive gaming by releasing The Wizard in 1989. The movie received over $14 billion in U.S. box office sales alone.• Since The Wizard featured several Nintendo games and accessories, it was only fitting that Nintendo would take advantage of the popularity of the movie. • The Nintendo World Championships took place in 1990—about a year after the movie released. This particular competition tested gamers’ skills in three popular games of that time: Rad Racer, Tetris, and the critically-acclaimed Super Mario Bros. .
• Nintendo continued to dominate the young competitive gaming circuit throughout the 1990s.As the games and game systems evolved, so did the world of competitive gaming.• The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the introduction of actual organizations that represented competitive gamers and established official events within the professional/competitive gaming community. • The first annual Electronic Sports World Cup took place in France, in 2000. • Also in 2000 was the first World Cyber Games (WCG), which took place in Seoul, Korea, where video games are immensely popular. • In 2002, MLG (short for Major League Gaming) launched and became the largest organized professional gaming organization. Since its inception, MLG has proven to be one of the most (if not the most) influential group to competitive gaming. MLG attempts to operate similarly to real sports – it has a very interactive website that features players, results, standings, and photos. Also, MLG conducts player interviews, offers professional insight, and often broadcasts their events—either on television or the website.
A quick glance at the MLG website’s homepagereveals that the overall layout/presentation of the siteis very similar in fashion to the respective homepagesof MLB and the NHL.
Current State of Competitive GamingVideo game competitions and tournaments have certainly changeddrastically since their origins in the 1980s.The current state of MLG, according to its website: “[MLG] is thedominant media property exclusively targeting tens of millions ofconsumers worldwide who have a passion for playing video games asa competitive social activity…”While in the past, prizes might have included a couple hundreddollars, t-shirts, games, and game accessories, extremely high cashprizes have become customary at video game competitions, offeringgamers compensation for their elite play.
Notable Prize-Winners• Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, considered by many to be the most prominent players in the world of professional gaming, has reportedly one over $500,000 worth of prizes from various gaming competitions.• Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen, over the course of his approximately nine years of professional gaming, has reportedly won over $250,000 in prize money from World Cyber Games, as well as other notable tournaments.• Tom “Tsquared” Taylor is currently under contract with MLG, earning him hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. He also brings in an additional $100,000 to $250,000 each year, in advertising and endorsement deals. In 2008, Tom Taylor became the first “professional athlete” to be promoted on Dr Pepper bottles. His image was printed on 175 million bottles and distributed across the nation
MLG consists of many popular titles that are available in the videogame market:• Starcraft franchise• League of Legends• King of Fighters franchise• Soul Caliber franchise• Mortal Kombat franchise• Call of Duty franchise• Halo franchise• Super Smash Bros. franchise• Street Fighter, King of Fighters, Tekken, Blazblue, Marvel Vs. Capcom are all fighting games that are hosted at other specific tournaments such as Evolution
The Games• Many times, these particular games are chosen out of the vast array of games available because they are/have been very popular with many people.• Currently MLG uses PCs, PS3 and Xbox 360 as their platforms for gaming• Not only is the constant rotation of games ever changing every year, but this also allows for new, up and coming players to debut.• The staple that has established itself in MLG, and also in all of competitive gaming, is the Starcraft series. • Since its first expansion of Starcraft: Brood War, the game’s popularity amongst players and viewers quickly grew. • The series was most popular in the country of South Korea and was also one of the key reasons gaming turned competitive within the Asian gaming community.
The Stars of Electronic Sports•The first official competitive gaming/electronic sports tournament beingthat of the World Cyber Games (WCG) started in 2000 with Starcraft:Brood War as one of the titles•Such players are BoxeR (Starcraft), IdrA (Starcraft), Naniwa(Starcraft), Daigo (Street Fighter), GamerBee (Street Fighter)•Many of these players have spent their time honing their skills at thegame, learning to perform moves with relative ease orstrategies, depending on what their opponents do. They have allsurpassed the 10,000th hour it takes for them to be considered a masterof whichever game they are playing.•Most who compete in MLG or other tournamentsjoin clans as it allows for them to compete in houseto hone their skills to reach and surpass the 10,000th hour.
Social Media Fan Page made for interaction between interests (polls, surveys)Interaction with MLG as well as live updates fromtournaments for those there (giveaways, upcomingmatchups) and not there (winners). Videos of past competitions as well as exclusive interviews and other extra features.
Continuing Expansion•The popularity of MLG in countries likeKorea and Japan is comparable to thepopularity of sports like football andbasketball are here in the United States.•Popular events, like Comic-Con, haveincorporated MLG events that bringattention to it to an audience that would beinterested.•An opportunity like this can aid in thegrowth of MLG in the United States.