While organizing my closet, I discovered a notebook containing some old school assignments; particularly an essay I wrote about “Cyberathletes” for my Freshman Comp class several years ago. After re-reading and some critiquing, I thought it was a pretty well written essay, despite a slight change of opinion now. My professor’s comments toward the end was that she was quite intrigued about the topic. I remember being hesitant that the topic was too ‘nerdy’, but it was something I was quite passionate about at the time.
I won’t get into much detail in how I started playing video games (I’ll leave that for another blog post). Though, I was exposed to more “hardcore” PC games through the help of various computer and gaming magazines and websites. Previously, I had only played a few games, such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six and the Command and Conquer series, which my computer was barely able to handle. As a result, I built my first custom gaming computer during my early mid-teens, in order to play the latest & more graphic-extensive PC games. One of the first games I played on the new PC was a game that came bundled with my Creative Labs SoundBlaster audio card, “Unreal Tournament“. I ended up falling in love with FPS games on the PC and later decided to purchase the “Half-Life Anthology” pack, which included “Counter-Strike“.
To be brief, I played CS from late 2001 to 2004 extensively. I was invited to join a team, or ‘clan’, during my first year of playing. We joined various online leagues, and like any real team, we had scheduled practices and matches every week. Eventually, I became the leader of the team. During my first season as leader, we won our conference championship and were promoted to a more advanced division within the league. The team’s roster usually changed each season, but we always remained strong competitors, were well respected (and feared), and even had some fans. During this time, I developed friendships with some pretty awesome people, especially my teammates.
Although not with my official team, I did attend several LAN (local area network) tournaments with local players. Some major tourneys included a WCG qualifier and two CPL events in Dallas and various small ones in Houston and San Antonio. It’s really awesome to meet other players you had only known through their voice and handle, or alias. While it didn’t happen very often, it was also pretty humbling to have someone you’ve never met before recognize you. One thing I regret was that my main team and I were never able to compete in big tournaments, as it was difficult to travel without being sponsored and with us scattered throughout the U.S.
Back to the point though, I had believed there was a future in electronic sports, or ‘eSports‘. My arguments were that, while not physically demanding as compared to basketball, football, etc, other elements required were the same, such as proper execution of strategies, communication, teamwork, and mental toughness. You also had to have good eye-hand coordination. It’s also easy to get in to competitive gaming; just grab a controller (or mouse/keyboard) and you’re exposed to thousands of dedicated players online from the comfort of your own home.
Do I still believe in it? Yes, although people from my generation won’t benefit much from it. While rapidly progressing, eSports is still very young. It’s still extremely rare to maintain a steady amount of income from prize money to make it a full-time job. I would say the range of most cyber athletes’ ages today are between 15-24, so it makes sense that they would have time to commit. Today, I’ve noticed eSports has pretty much lost its novelty and is now common amongst online gamers; thanks to organizations such as the MLG. I believe in another decade you’ll be seeing a lot of it on television.