Esports is bigger than ever and it’s seemingly here to stay. What is it you ask? Esports, also known as electronic sports is essentially sporting event centered around video games. Some of the biggest events are focused around games such as League of Legends, Counter Strike and Fifa. Some of these games you may have heard of and if you haven’t trust me you’ll find quite a number of people around the world you have. But as this sport grows is what’s happening around it ethical?
Just to get an idea of the scope of how big e-sports has gotten, I suggest watching this short video from Mashable (http://on.mash.to/1Z8n1fR) that highlights just how big this market has become . This multi billion dollar industry has grown year over year, boasting more viewership than the Super Bowl. Technology is a rapidly diversifying industry and this sport has grown with very little regulation, unlike it’s more traditional counterparts like Football or Cricket. It has seen huge investment over the last number of years from huge multi-national companies such as Yahoo. In an article released by Mashable on the 2nd of March 2016, Bob Condor, Vice President of Yahoo sport media is quoted, where he compares Esports to Olympians (Stark,2016).
“You watch a gymnast who, with one short half step in the wrong place, is dropped out of the medal competition. You do all that preparation and all this work, and the time slot on whether you will make or break is milliseconds. We want to understand where the players and coaches heads are in during those make or break moments.” (Bob Condor) (Chelsea Stark,2016,24-30)
But with all this growth and money, are the very foundations of the industry ethical? Gaming has always been played to relax to or pass the time. Yet the Guardian ask the question “Do esports put too much pressure on the regular gamer?” The recent increase in funding has meant that winning certain gaming tournaments leads to cash prizes of up to $10 million. The article suggests that it is this money that pressures average gamers. Suddenly everyone who plays online is expected to play at a professional level otherwise it turns into a humiliating defeat. Certain games are now adding spectator settings to let people watch the events that aren’t even playing. But as more money rushes into the industry, is it ethical to push out the loyal average gamer in favour of the elite gamers with faster internet speeds and high wages? (Allford, J. (2014))
It appears it’s being tarred with corruption and is following the trodden path of all other sports where large sums of money are involved. Throughout history athletes have tried to get the edge on others by doping, from Lance Armstrong (cycling) to Tyson Gay (short distance running). Gamers are now being pushed that direction also. In an interview on wired.co.uk with Kory Friesen, an esports professional, , he stated;
“I don’t even care. We were all on Adderall. I don’t even give a f**k. It was pretty obvious if you listened to the comms. People can hate it or whatever” Kory Friesen (Matt Kamen,16/07/15,line 15-19).
For those of you who don’t know Adderall is an amphetamine, it’s rated as a class-B drug in Ireland. This focuses the gamer’s mind and reduces the need to sleep. The ages of these gamers predominantly varies from late teens to mid-twenties. Surely these people shouldn’t be taking drugs that affect cognitive ability to enhance their stamina whilst gaming? This can have hugely negative ramifications for the user at any age, especially at one where the brain is still developing(Kamen.M, 2015) . The Times reports that in August of last year, the ESL, which is the largest and oldest gaming commission, introduced testing for these substances. This might have solved the problem for the professional game but what of the average gamer? The need to perform is pressurising users to take these drugs, something that needs to be addressed (Rhodan, M. (2015)).
Esports is here to stay and is only going to get bigger as the years go on. The fact that gambling sites such as Paddy Power are now takes bets on these games shows just how far the industry has grown (Nolan, P. 2016). This video from Vice News titled “The Dark Side of Non-Stop Gaming“ will further back up the issue at hand.
Until next time.
Allford, J. (2014). Does eSports put too much pressure on regular gamers?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/20/esports-pressure-regular-gamers-professional-gaming-tournament [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].
Kamen,M., Wired UK. (2016), Pro-gamer admits to doping in eSports . [online] Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-07/16/esports-doping-admission [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].
Nolan, P. (2016). Stand aside, skeptics. Esports are here to stay. [online] Mashable. Available at: http://mashable.com/2016/01/12/esports-growth-2015#B2l5ET7FZkqB [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].
Rhodan, M. (2015). Pro Video Gamers Will Be Tested for Doping. [online] TIME.com. Available at: http://time.com/3970308/video-game-test-esl-drug-doping/ [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].
Stark, C. (2016). Yahoo enters the esports market with an eye on video. [online] Mashable. Available at: http://mashable.com/2016/03/02/yahoo-esports/#3XDZGY_Ufiqn [Accessed 11 Mar. 2016].