The Industry of eSports at Oakton High School
The industry of eSports has taken the world by storm as the use of technology has increased. Oakton High School features its own eSports players in which a few agreed to share their experiences.
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The industry of eSports is huge and only getting larger. ESports games feature millions of players each day around the world competing against one another from a variety of skill levels. While eSports is certainly on the rise, many people still don’t know what it is. ESports can be defined as an online multiplayer video game in a competitive format. Some of the more well known eSports games include League of Legends, Counter Strike Global Offensive, Overwatch and Dota 2. Within these games, it’s estimated that there are over 140 million ACTIVE monthly players, an astonishing number. If we compare the viewership of eSports’ most popular game at the highest level (in the finals), League of Legends, to that of the 2015 NBA Finals, League of Legends (otherwise known as LoL) has 11.5 million additional viewers totalling to about 27 million viewers. After all this, it’s fair to say that eSports is no joke and has serious support. How does this popularity render at Oakton High School and what does eSports mean to some of its students?
Freshman Jack Odell is an avid Overwatch player and has played since its release in May 23, 2016. He finds Overwatch enjoyable because it is such an “engaging game” and the fact that he can play online with other people including his friends. Odell “absolutely agrees that the industry of eSports is growing, and rapidly”. He credits its growth to the increasing relevance of technology in the world today and because of this, people will be drawn to the games as they tend to be fun.
On the controversial topic about whether or not eSports should be considered a “real sport”, Odell offered his input saying that he was caught in the middle; “eSports is incredibly difficult at the highest level and requires a lot of skill, although it lacks physicality”. At Oakton High School, he doesn’t know very many people who play an eSport game, but he believes that “20-25%” of the school plays or has played one (or more) and it expects this number to only grow. When asked about if he would consider joining an eSports club at Oakton High School, Odell replied saying that he most likely would not because “gaming is not something I want to take seriously”.
CS-GO is the game that has emerged as sophomore Franco Medrano’s favorite. It’s a game he has played for around three years now, a game he has continued to play because he finds it extremely entertaining to be highly competitive and work in a group in order “crush the enemy team”. Medrano believes that eSports is a huge industry and the modern day giant will only see further growth. He attributes its ongoing and upcoming success to esports inspiring the same concept as becoming a professional athlete.
Similar to physical sports, being good enough at a particular eSport game could grant you a one way ticket to the professional scene. He believes the idea of being able to be a professional and receive the following endorsements and be globally recognized is what makes the games so enticing. On the topic of “professional sports”, Medrano contended that eSports should be considered real sports “even though there’s no physical aspect to it, there’s a lot of skill required to compete”. The lack of physical effort does not appear to outweigh the level of difficulty in Medrano’s mind even though he has noticed the condemnation of this several times online. Medrano also had a different perspective on the relevance of eSports at Oakton High School compared to Odell. He estimates that roughly 70% of the student population has played or does play an eSport game. With already the current growth of eSports worldwide, Medrano certainly sees a growth of eSports in Oakton High School noting that he has heard many more people talking about games such as CS-GO while walking down the school hallway. If possible, Medrano would take the opportunity of possibly joining others in an Oakton eSports club.
Alexander Johnson, a sophomore, is also an avid eSports fan. His collection of games includes League of Legends, CS-GO and Super Smash Bros although League of Legends stands out as his very favorite. Each of these games are all ones he watches frequently. While Johnson thinks he enjoys eSports because it is fun trying your best against people, he thinks it is gaining popularity with others because of its large, diverse and open community. With said community, it persuades the friends of these members to play along with them so that they can do an activity collaboratively and so eventually this snowballs.
Even though Johnson is not entirely sure about whether or not eSports should be considered a real sport, he asserted that he believes professional gamers should be given more credit for the dedication they put towards their respective games as they play or study their game for about “8-12 hours per day”. Unlike those before him, he actually sees eSports receiving very little hate now because “people are starting to realize that there is more than just sweaty nerds playing some game”. Johnson had a more moderate estimate in comparison to the other two in terms of the eSports gaming population in Oakton High School, estimating it to be around 40%. He finds that with Oakton’s competitive nature, there are plenty of students who would want to join the community and apply this ambition to exceed elsewhere. Johnson himself would thoroughly relish joining an Oakton eSports club to collaborate with others in a competitive yet enjoyable environment.