How big will the industry be in 30 years time?
With esports now a $1billion industry this year and its popularity still rising, we ask the question – what does the future hold for professional gaming?
A gaming stage at Glastonbury, giant sold out 100,000-seater stadiums and even a place in the Olympics?
That’s where some academics feel esports could be by 2050.
After exclusively speaking to the experts, we’ve created some food for thought about how the industry evolves in decades to come.
Gaming at festivals such as Glastonbury or Coachella?
As many event organisers now look to bring in wider audiences and test the waters, gaming could be on the cards to feature at some of the world’s biggest festivals.
With comedy stages, poetry and circus acts becoming part of the usual attractions, could competitive gaming be an outlet to bring in new audiences?
Lincoln Geraghty, Professor of Media Cultures at University of Portsmouth in the UK, said: “Absolutely, the crossovers are there. Comicon for example in the last 30 years has gone from comic books to games to big marketing launches.
“So I see a space like Glastonbury, that has a subcultural prestige with people interested in explicit music and the relationship of music and games, people might be drawn to it.”
Esports in the Olympics?
Esports games are already broadcasted to millions of people around the world. Last year’s League of Legends World Championship semi-finals were watched live by 3.9million.
But what about on an elite, mainstream level? The Intel World Open was set to precede this year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics before it was cancelled, a stepping stone for esports to potentially feature in the competition itself.
Professor Geraghty said: “This is something the Olympic committee is looking at and it would almost certainly provide a much safer space for this competition to take place.
“Whether it be a massive tournament on the scale of the World Cup or be included in the Olympics in 30 years time, it won’t be unexpected and won’t be a surprise.”
All colleges and universities to offer esports majors/degrees?
This is unlikely, but not impossible.
There are already cases around the world of university majors and degrees being offered in game design and for specific games themselves.
As more people in higher education take up these courses, the novelty may wear off and that could lead to more awareness of the power games have on society.
Professor Regan Mandryk, Professor in Computer Science at University of Saskatchewan in Canada, said: “You can now go through college on a League of Legends scholarship, that’s going to change the cache of being an esports athlete.
“I would like to see the stigma of it being a “nerdy” activity change. It’s going to be hard, but it will happen by more people being exposed to different aspects of playing.”
Regularly filling 100,000 seater stadiums?
Whether it’s the World Cup or the Super Bowl, thousands of people want to be there to see how sporting events play out.
And this is no different for esports, even now.
The Spodak Arena in Katowice, Poland held 173,000 people to watch the Intel Extreme Masters in 2017.
“People see their heroes in these gamers and esports personalities,” Professor Geraghty added.
“It’s only replacing the footballer on the pitch with a competitor on your computer screen.”
He said: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a football stadium or convention centres sell out to see a huge gaming tournament.
“As content creators increase in popularity, people will pay to come out and see them in person.”
To better the understanding of mental and physical health
We all understand games can be stressful and frustrating at times, but the techniques used in a lot of the technology is actually helping health professionals understand humans more.
Despite many negative connotations, studies have found games can actually help our mental health, but also be used to understand the physical effects of stress and recovery.
“Gaming can be very good for you. There are lots of ways that it can help you recover from stress,” added Professor Mandryk.
“It can help you disconnect from the pressures around you. It can also help you connect socially with other people.
“We’ve done research that shows gaming can actually combat loneliness.”
But, how do we get the best out games in the future within other areas of society?
Professor Mandryk said: “Part of the answer is to stop being so afraid of games.”
“This is a very powerful median that we can leverage. There is a lot of motivational pull and people are devoting a lot of time to playing games so why aren’t we harnessing what’s great about them to better society.”