The human preoccupation with gaming has been around since time immemorial. Although the most popular games have been through some changes and development over the years, the impulse to battle against other people in a show of wits and skill has remained. In ancient civilizations from Greece to Rome to Egypt, gaming was often a pastime which drew crowds of onlookers both in public and at private gatherings. These days, it is eSports and iGaming which attract audiences that can sometimes number over 5 million viewers for a single tournament.
Of course, this is only possible because individual games can now be broadcast live over the internet, but there are also specially built stadiums and other venues which regularly host some of the biggest gaming competitions the world has ever seen. Viewership is constantly on the up as the sectors hit the mainstream, and industry growth doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.
So, what exactly do these new terms – eSports and iGaming – actually mean? And how can you get involved with this emerging industry? Read on to find out more about it.
Define eSports and iGaming
Just like email is a contraction of the phrase “electronic mail”, so eSports is used to refer to “electronic sports” of all kinds. Although there is a big market for the video game versions of traditional sports like basketball, F1 racing and football, eSports can also refer to any type of competitive video gaming. Some of the most popular titles are Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients), CS:GO (Couter Strike: Global Offensive) and PUBG (Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds). Tournaments for these titles are massive, with prizes of up to $40 million, viewer numbers of over 5 million, and sponsorship deals from Intel, Red Bull and Audi.
iGaming is usually considered distinct from eSports as it is specifically used to refer to online casino gaming and sports betting. Since the USA dissolved PASPA, a legal ruling which restricted sports betting across North America, the market has been flourishing. It is now worth over $61 billion dollars worldwide, with a growth of 86% predicted to occur by 2028.
Whilst live, in-person casino gaming is still very much a popular mind sport, more and more people are choosing to play online. Back in 2003, Chris Moneymaker was the first person to win the World Series of Poker and become a poker champion after qualifying in an online game. Since that time, iGaming as an industry has gone from strength to strength.
How to Get Involved
Whether you’re interested in becoming a diehard fan or a successful competitor in your own right, accessing the sector is simple and straightforward. All you need is a decent internet connection, whether that’s mobile data or WiFi, and an appropriate device. Thanks to cross-platform technology, many games can now be played across a range of devices, including mobile, PC, laptop and console. Likewise, tournaments and matches can be viewed on anything with a screen and online capabilities.
Take online poker, for example. Trusted industry experts like PokerStars provide rules, regulations and tips for a wide range of different poker variants on their website. You can then use the platform itself to learn the ropes for your chosen game, playing against others and improving along the way. Online platforms have games at all stakes, from freerolls to bigger tournaments like the Sunday Billion or High Roller Club, so new players can practice and experienced players can compete at the highest level.
If you’d rather watch the action unfold instead of getting involved, streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube cater specifically to gamers and gaming fans. You can tune into a live stream of League of Legends, VALORANT or Fortnite, hosted by both pros and amateurs on their Twitch channels. Alternatively, YouTube Gaming, Steam TV, and even the BBC and ESPN stream some of the bigger tournaments, such as the LoL UK League Championship and Overwatch League.