If you think videogames are a nerdy pastime for out-of-shape boys gathered around a laptop in their mom’s basement sipping on cola, you are sorely mistaken--competitive gaming, known as electronic sports, or eSports, is a global phenomenon valued in the billions of dollars.
The industry is anchored by what is referred to as multiplayer online battle arena games, like the League of Legends, where one or several players face off in a digital arena. Watching people play professionally has been popular in Asia for years, but is now also gaining steam in the U.S.
In fact, those powering the industry say it’s well on its way to becoming the next major professional sport alongside football and baseball. The biggest tournaments are already filling entire arenas, including New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
“The big events are already bigger than the biggest events in sports,” said Kevin Lin, chief operating officer of Twitch, the world’s largest videogame streaming platform.