eSports are a Big Item
Big business is increasingly interested in eSports. Companies like Daimler Benz and others sign million dollar contracts to sponsor eSports teams. The Octalysis Group likewise passionately sponsors Team Octalysis (https://esports.heroesofthestorm.com/en-us/teams/2001/team-octalysis) in Heroes of the Storm.
eSports are video games competitions mainly organized around multiplayer games, particularly between professional players. Some of the most famous game (like League of Legends) have almost 100 million daily players. And millions more are watching LIVE games that are broadcasted via Game media like Twitch. Because of such numbers, eSports (once just a playground for gamers), is now a serious investment and marketing proposition.
Games but not sports?
However, despite the fact that big corporates are increasingly involved in eSports; and the fact that its games are played by hundreds of millions of users, the general public is sometimes unaware of what eSports is and the reach it has. But make no mistake: eSports is sports that is implemented at the highest levels of professionalism. It requires rigorous training and strategy sessions, that can last up to 10 hours a day.
It’s funny, then, that I sometimes have to explain why I think that eSports are a serious sports category and even worthy of Olympic status. “It’s not a sport! It’s a game! They don’t move! It’s addictive!”
Gamers don’t move!
Probably one of the most heard arguments: if you don’t move much during a sport, it cannot be a sport, and therefore it cannot be an Olympic Sport. Sounds like a fair point right? Sports are associated with physical activity by many people.
Reality is different though. The fact that you don’t physically exert yourself much can also be said for Olympic disciplines (games, really) like shooting and archery. And did you know that the International Olympic Committee recognizes both chess and bridge as “sports”? Maybe that is why these games are found on our sports pages.
So, what is a sport and what is not, is not clear at all. And we are not even talking about internationally recognized other “mind sports” like Go, checkers and xiangqi.
How to solve this conundrum then? Well, you either remove all the sports that fall below a certain physical exercise level (who determines that though and what happens to individual athletes who take it easy 😉), or you give eSports its rightful place as a sport. A VERY popular sport worldwide, with a lot more viewers than most Olympic sports.
The latter movement seems strong (https://m.scmp.com/…/asian-games-e-sports-players-no-longer…) and I do expect eSports to be a full Asian Games medal candidate in 2020.
The discussion about what is sports is highly subjective, even hypocrite, as is the discussion about what is “good” addiction and what is “bad” addiction to games and activities in general.
A chess player who practices day in, day out? Passionate! Brilliant!
A bridge player constantly talking about his latest tricks? Intelligent! Mastery!
A football player practicing 8 hours a day with a ball? Focused! Driven!
A gamer playing games all day long? Loser! Addict! Worthless!
With eSports now a billion dollar industry, our perceptions about (the value and acceptance of) games and addiction will change rapidly. I will soon call my dear mother a gamer for playing bridge so much.
And Ronaldo? A high earning addict playing a dangerous game. What a loser. A geek!
There is a very fine, imaginative line between passion and addiction…
I am not saying that addictions should be ignored. Digital experiences have great feedback mechanics and can cause full immersion and addiction. We need to keep informing people about the dangers of addiction. Any passion that leads you to forget the importance of socializing, creativity and taking care of your daily needs can become destructive. If that passion/addiction is your career it can lead to divorce, suicide even.
It’s our joint responsibility to show people what creates true and lasting happiness. Finding a passion and mastering that passion is definitely part of that. Whether it is drawing, setting up a business, playing chess or becoming a serious gamer. No need to condemn one passion over the other.
Learning from successful games
So eSports is a sport that warrants serious global and professional attention, but why would we care? What can businesses learn from this phenomenon (rather than just getting exposure to millions of viewers)?
Well, the more enduring the popularity of a game is over time, the more powerful its design is likely to be. eSports center around games that a lot of people play, and have often played for a long time. The design of these games is well advanced and caters for deep and long-lasting engagement. In Octalysis terms: the experience is balanced throughout the Four Phases of the Experience and for its main player types.
The Octalysis Group is always learning, refining and expanding its knowledge about human focused design and game mechanics. Watching eSports and getting involved with the community allows us to learn even more secrets about how these games have been designed and why they are so engaging.
We incorporate these lessons learned in our designs, so that they can become even more successful and lead to even higher ROIs for our clients. So not only are eSports a serious business opportunity for corporates, they are also an excellent way to innovate our gamification services.
So next time you have the opportunity, go and watch an eSports match. It’s fun, highly professional and you may just learn a bit of Gamification knowledge on the fly!
If you are interested in serious Gamification design to empower your products or people, you can contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org