Electronic sports (or eSports) is a term for organized video game competitions, especially between professionals. The most common video game genres associated with electronic sports are real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter, and multiplayer online battle arena. Tournaments such as the World Cyber Games, the Evolution Championship Series, and the Intel Extreme Masters provide both live broadcasts of the competition, and cash prizes to competitors.
Although eSports have long been a part of video game culture, competitions have seen a large surge in popularity in recent years. Professional gaming isn’t exactly new. Gamers have been making a living off their skills since the late ’90s. While competitions before around the year 2000 were largely between amateurs, the proliferation of professional competitions and growing viewership now supports a significant number of professional players and teams, and many video game developers now build features into their games designed to facilitate such competition.
Not only are large organizations like MLG (Major League Gaming) and EVO (Evolution Championship Series) putting on these events in America, but the developers of these eSports titles have begun hosting their own massive tournaments and leagues in the states as well. Riot Games, developer of the massively popular free-to-play MOBA League of Legends (LoL), also hosts their own tournament league, LCS (League Championship Series). Riot Games recently made huge strides for eSports as a whole in the U.S., going through a lengthy process to prove that League of Legends is a legitimate sport to the U.S. government. Thanks to the developer, the United States government now recognizes pro LoL players as professional athletes, and will award them visas to work in the U.S. under that title.
Jamaica and the wider Caribbean has an opportunity to enter into this “new” emerging market and get in on the ground floor for a very lucrative and influential market. The potential for growth, mass market appeal and reach is an untapped resource that more companies need to take notice of and utilize. Companies such as LIME and Digicel are potentially the first major companies to start taking notice of the realm of eSports. They have begun to look through the door of opportunity that is before them so now all that is left is for them to boldly step through and invest well to solidify their impact and relevance in the industry as its pioneers. Due to the potential reach and impact of the eSports industry advertising and reaching multiple markets had never been easier especially if one appeals to a specific region such as the Caribbean. The first organization to step up to the plate is a group of long time gamers spearheading a group called the Fighters Allegiance Of Jamaica led by a man called Andrew Johnson. If they can plan, organize and make this a reality just imagine what they could do with corporate backing? Overseas entities such as Empire Arcadia and MVG (Multimedia Video Gamers) are taking notice; the only thing left is to gain traction and exposure.