Video games have been around since the 70s, but only in the past few years have they become the international competitive phenomenon known as electronic sports.
Teams of professional players play against each other in a variety of games including League of Legends, Counter Strike and Hearthstone in tournaments that are broadcasted live on ESPN and across the internet to huge crowds.
The 2013 League of Legends World Finals drew a whopping 32 million viewers, double the amount for baseball’s World Series.
Some professional gamers can earn almost as much as some sports superstars, with two Korean esports icons earning between $800-900,000 a year.
The DotA2 2014 tournament offered a prize of over $5 million to the winners, out of a $10 million prize pool.
The statistics demonstrate the growing popularity of esports, but the question remains, is it a sport?
Esports tournaments, like other sporting tournaments, display elite players, managers and coaches exhibiting skills in their chosen fields
There are many well-known personalities within the esports community, much like those within traditional sports.
Players are also well known to transition into being pundits for the game, a very familiar concept for football and rugby.
However, critics argue that esports doesn’t involve any actual physical exertion, and as such, is not a sport.
ESPN President, John Skipper, recently said, ‘It’s not a sport — it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition.’
Sophie Peterson, a local personal trainer, agrees with Skipper by saying: “I don’t think esports should be a sport, as you always think of sport as physically challenging, and requiring a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
“There’s always a risk of physical injury with actual sports, whereas the most you’re going to get from a computer is repetitive strain injury at most.”
Although there are arguments for both sides, and members of the Teesside University League of Legends society suggest there are elements of sport involved.
Edward Mitchell says: “Something that I feel is really important in the new era is the involvement of technology in everyday life.
“I think that this should definitely include the changing of the definitions of everyday things that we do, including sports.”
Callum Pumphrey, however, admits: “It should be a sport, but I can’t imagine people wanting their child to grow up to play competitively in esports.”
While Jordan Conlin suggests: “There hasn’t been enough time for esports to grow fully into a sport that’s passed between generations.
“But, as long as they’re not called ‘cyber athletes’, it shouldn’t be too embarrassing.”