With traditional entertainment and sports avenues disappearing overnight in the wake of the global lockdown last year, esports became the answer for stakeholders across various industries to ensure the action still went on. That opened the doors to the injection of career video gaming into social media, delivering hours of premium entertainment to content-starved audiences. As a result, the player bases skyrocketed as millions of people strived to stay connected at a time when many players were apart.
While esports rise during the lockdown proved that competitive gaming could live up to the hype, it went a long way to prove that the industry is not ready for a primetime role in the mainstream media. The heightened attention and accelerated production experienced in esports revealed many fundamental cracks on the industry’s foundation. Fortunately, most of these pain points can be addressed by esports professionalization, especially in player care, the growing diversity and inclusivity, and competitive integrity.
Within the last years, the acceptance of eSports as a legitimate field of excellence has increased sevenfold. From the dingy back-alley of Discord to the O2 Arena, eSports has become the fastest-growing field in the sporting world with teams like NIP and BIG taking in corporate sponsorship by some of the leading voices in the gambling industry.
Improving Player Care
As esports rose to become a major source of entertainment content worldwide, the rush to satisfy the growing demand came at the detriment of the players’ health. As punters enjoyed wagering on schedules packed with matches and tournaments, the players were occasionally pushed beyond their limits, with some having to forego essential recovery activities.
For esports to continue growing, the players must be treated similarly to professional athletes. That calls for the industry to dedicate resources to ensure that mental and health tools are readily available to players. Organizers and teams will also need to come together to develop standard schedules that complement each other, like in professional sports leagues.
Some companies are already spearheading the activity, focusing on boosting the player’s longevity by researching, developing, and testing new products that improve a player’s posture and minimize injuries. That includes everything from monitoring a player’s comfort, mobility, and function to measuring the impact of new training techniques and materials.
Ensuring Competitive Integrity
While the sports industry’s shift allows esports to rise to the mainstream ultimately, it took away many critical in-person elements like the ecstatic energy of fans and the collective fandom of supporting your home team. Unfortunately, player oversight was an unavoidable casualty of that, resulting in severe violations of the rules to flare up. That includes discovering a bug exploit in the popular video game, Counter-Strike, which led to the ban of over 30 coaches and the disconnection of suspicious players.
Competitive integrity is crucial for fans, players, and stakeholders as it offers the assurance that the games they’re competing in or watching are played in a fair manner. As such, safeguarding the industry’s integrity and developing market-wide standards is a significant pain point as we move towards the 2021 esports events. That calls for the stakeholders to bring their minds together to identify and resolve these issues by developing a benchmark for the market to adopt widely at the highest level.
Addressing Inclusivity and Diversity
Although esports doesn’t require any physical advantage to win matches, it remains a male-dominated industry, and only a few changes have materialized in the last decade. Fortunately, last year’s #MeToo movement brought this conversation to life, with the rise in esports attention sparking cries for a change and more inclusion than ever before.
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The first step towards making the esports industry more tolerant and open to everyone is bringing all the stakeholders together to tackle the existing roadblock head-on. For instance, AnyKey is working hard to foster a safe online atmosphere for everyone by encouraging streamers, gamers, and professional athletes to make a positive change and encourage inclusivity in the gaming space. Those who pledge to support their quest receive a Global Twitch badge that shows their commitment towards combating toxicity and avoiding perpetuating disruptive behavior.
The most impressive video gaming attribute is that the skills and ability to play aren’t confined by gender, age, or ethnicity. These games also don’t give an edge to physically gifted people. As such, the esports industry’s digital nature inherently levels the playing field for everyone and acts as an avenue for self-expression. Additionally, the esports industry is a place of acceptance where anyone can participate from anywhere globally, unlike in traditional sports like soccer, tennis, or basketball.
While the demand for esports content has risen over the last year, it has revealed various pain points that need to be addressed for the industry to take its spot on the mainstream media in the long-run. Fortunately, esports professionalization can solve most of the industry’s existing problems, including addressing diversity and inclusivity issues and improving the players’ care. However, the industry’s stakeholders must come together and address these challenges proactively with an open mind to ensure that esports is well-equipped to reach its full potential. Fortunately, many gaming companies are working hard towards esports professionalization today.