Gaming used to be just another form of entertainment, but it has long since evolved to be its own sports category. Although there’s still an ongoing debate about whether or not eSports should indeed be considered a sport, there’s already been talk about including it in the 2024 Olympics. FinalBoss notes that the fact that it’s being considered is remarkable, especially since there have been a number of misconceptions about the eSports community.

The Money in Gaming

For one, not very many people know that competitive electronic gaming is a billion pound industry. The global economy forecast by analysts sees the business booming to a whopping $2.1 billion (£1.7billion) by the end of the year. Gamers earn thousands playing, competing, and streaming on websites like Twitch and YouTube. In fact, a player can earn up to £400,000 a month.

The business has become so marketable that schools, like Staffordshire University, have begun teaching undergraduate and master courses on the subject. Stuart Kosters who helped launch the university’s undergraduate course told the BBC that he has always played games and has always been interested in business; it’s good to be able to combine both.

“I went to a League of Legends competition, sat in the arena with all the other fans and thought: ‘This is real, this is as big as any sport out there,” he said.

However, the money isn’t the only thing keeping gamers hooked on eSports. From its humble beginnings, it has grown to be a very well known community of its own. Australian pro player Oliver Tierney believes that the industry will just keep growing and growing. “I love the competitiveness of it, I love the group aspect,” he said. “Every kid these days knows what eSports is. The new generation coming through is where it’s going to happen,” he added.

To get a sense of the numbers, the US alone has over 9,500 registered eSports players, with China, South Korea and Germany next in line. The UK is still a bit behind, but the influx of money into eSports teams attached to Premier League clubs could change that.

The reach of eSports doesn’t solely depend on the number of registered pro players, but the number of people who watch and stream the games online. In fact, streamers have already become their own community, too. Although the competitive electronic gaming industry has had its fair share of toxic communities, there are still plenty more that are welcoming and friendly. The servers of Team Fortress 2 are a great example. Although it’s not completely free from toxic gamers, it’s fairly kinder than the community at Overwatch. The cult classic Dark Souls is also home to players who are just happy to spend their time helping other players get out of game battles.

While online friendships are remarkable, real-life brotherhoods are even better. Perhaps one of the most popular eSports friendships is between Dota 2 pro players Tal ‘Fly’ Aizik and Johan ‘BigDaddyN0tail’ Sundstein. Their partnership was like no other, both online and off, but the two broke the entire eSports’ community’s hearts when Fly decided to leave their then team, OG for another team, Evil Geniuses. But, at the annual The International (TI) Dota 2 eSports tournament, in Vancouver, EG lost to OG, 2 to 1. While the two players were on opposite teams they still remained good friends. This just proves that more than the prize money, the prestige, and the recognition, eSports athletes and fans value friendship and teamwork like any regular contact sport player would with his team.

This article is a guest post written by Reese Jones.

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