With eSports having gained a lot of legitimacy as a serious competitive sport, it has also been beset by some of the negative aspects that plague the conventional sporting world. This includes illegal betting, player exploitation and the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as Adderall.
But as the eSports industry grows, these issues are being addressed by sponsors and tournament hosts, as well as more standardised regulations being implemented to protect players. In Japan, professional gamers can now acquire eSports licenses, making them exempt from the laws prohibiting gambling and allowing them to receive winnings from the tournament itself – and many countries seem to be following suit in some form or another. There have even been discussions about including eSports events in the Olympic Games.
Besides the issues that conventional sports face, eSports also has to contend with connection and hardware failures. On the 18th of June, the open and regional qualifiers for The International 2018 – an annual tournament of the Dota Pro Circuit arranged by Valve – was hindered by constant disconnects.
Given how conveniently entire teams would disconnect at the same time, many began to suspect an organised DDoS attack. Guesses abound as to who the perpetrators were, with some suspecting it was pulled off by the opposing team or by bettors hoping to throw the match in their favour.
A DDoS attack, or distributed denial of service attack, is an orchestrated barrage of service requests upon a server, with the help of a botnet. When the server is overloaded it is unable to deliver service to legitimate requests, resulting in users lagging out or getting kicked off the server altogether. This is a problem that has troubled gaming tournaments for years. Now, many high-profile gaming tournaments are hosted over a LAN that does not rely on an external server or an internet connection. This makes the connection a lot more secure and reliable.
However, LANs are not always feasible as a method of connection, depending on the scale of the tournament and whether all participants can attend. Because not all countries consider eSports to be a valid sport, professional gamers are not typically acknowledged to qualify for the visa that would allow them to travel as an athlete. In 2013, Danny Le – a Canadian professional League of Legends player – was the first eSports player to be granted a P-1 visa, allowing him to travel as an athlete. As eSports becomes more recognised, it is believed that more countries will begin to adopt this policy.
This all bodes well for eSports becoming acknowledged as a valid competitive sport. Given the amount of training, skill, discipline and concentration that professional gamers commit to their chosen games, eSports should definitely be acknowledged as more than just entertainment.
Just as conventional sporting events bring in great revenue to the cities in which they are hosted, so do eSports and gaming events. BlizzCon 2017, Blizzard’s annual gaming convention, had over 35,000 attendees.
On the other side of this competitive focus, with the World Health Organisation planning to add gaming disorder to the Internation Classification of Diseases in mid-2018. Gaming disorder will be defined as “a pattern of gaming behaviour (“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.” This falls into a similar category as gambling addiction.
Some gamers have taken this classification harshly. Who wouldn’t feel threatened to have their hobby labelled as an addiction? However, many still believe that this classification will impact the gaming community positively. Particularly when paired with existing mental health disorders, gaming can present an unhealthy form of escapism. Acknowledging gaming disorder as a serious mental health issue gives those who are substituting gaming for their real-life responsibilities to potentially receive the help they need. This should ultimately contribute to the gaming community subsisting as a healthy and competitive environment for gamers of all ages.
As a medium of entertainment, streaming gameplay has also become a huge drawcard. Hundreds of viewers tune in to watch both eSports and single player titles being played by their favourite gamer. In May 2018, ESports Charts reported that 194,124 average viewers tuned in to watch Fortnite on Twitch. Gameplay streaming has opened up a whole new area for players to shine and gain reputation, as well as being great publicity for the games themselves.
Regardless of the hindrances, the gaming industry is flourishing and professional gamers are making the most of it, with the future looking very promising for the world of eSports.