While e-sports might still feel like a new institution, it’s actually been building for the last several decades. The first video game competition took place in October of 1972 at Stanford University. A team of the best players at the school were invited to both watch and compete in a game of Spacewar!, with a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine as the grand price. However, at the time, hardly anyone knew video games could be played on a computer rather than through a gaming console.
That tournament was the beginning of a sports empire that focused solely on combining the competitive elements of gaming with its ever-growing fan base. Since the beginning of the game industry, gamers have competed for the highest scores and bragging rights that go along with playing video games.
In 1980, Atari hosted a Space Invaders Championship that resulted in more than 10,000 people gathered to either play or watch the game unfold. By 1989, gaming competitions were popular enough that they were featured in the full-length movie, The Wizard.
As gaming hardware advanced and internet connections improved over the next few years, multiplayer gaming started to take off, building on the foundation that gamers wanted on-demand competition as well as interactions with other players. Soon after, the next major e-sports spectacle would arise within the gaming industry: competitions that featured professional players in organized leagues being streamed for viewers at home to enjoy. Platforms like TwitchTV invited people from around the world to watch their favourite teams battle for victory in a virtual arena.
Today, Twitch is the largest live streaming platform in the USA, with its popularity still rapidly growing. Bought out by Amazon in 2014 for nearly $1 billion, Twitch has become one of the top resources for watching e-sports, both in real-time and after the live tournament is over. There are no signs of the excitement and popularity of e-sports slowing down anytime soon.