JACKSONVILLE, Ark.- Video games used to be simple, and it all started with the original Nintendo System.
You were in control of the action on the screen and those graphics!
But now, it connects the world and allows for hundreds of players to play simultaneously around the globe.
In fact, eGaming has become a big business. In 2019 so far, the gaming industry has had revenue of about $37 billion!
The amount of data used, 96 petabytes. That’s enough for over 35 billion copies of the Original Super Mario Brothers!
Most gamers nowadays started with humble beginnings.
What was a hobby and a way to pass time with your friends has now become a full-on sport.
There are tournaments that have big-time rewards now.
The State of Arkansas has taken notice by making eGaming an AAA-sanctioned sport, handing out trophies and everything.
Now, the way it works is there are three different games in which players can compete in Rocket League, League of Legends and SMITE. Players compete in each game and score wins for their team, just like any traditional sport. Just like football or basketball, there is plenty of strategy and cooperation involved.
These student-athletes put in a lot of time, practicing at least twice a week, but it doesn’t end there. They also practice at home.
Also like on-the-field sports, students have to maintain their grades in order to participate. According to Jacksonville Head Coach Alexis Smith, it still hasn’t quite gained the respect it deserves just yet.
“It’s been a little difficult to have people take us seriously that this is an actual AAA sport,” says Smith. “This isn’t just a hobby or something for them to do. This isn’t a club. It’s sanctioned by the AAA, this is an actual sport.”
Esports is taking off, and even colleges are now building facilities dedicated solely to esports. YouTube and Twitch have made watching professional gamers more accessible.
For now, here in Arkansas, esports are serious, but not serious just yet.