In the past decade, esports has become an international phenomenon, with millions of fans tuning in to watch professional gamers compete in tournaments with enormous prizes. However, esports as we know it today has a much longer history, dating back to the 1970s and the early days of personal computing.
The earliest known form of organized video game competition was held in 1972 at Stanford University. The event, called the Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics, featured several players competing in a game called Spacewar!, which was played on a mainframe computer.
Over the next few decades, video games became increasingly accessible to the general public as personal computers and gaming consoles became more affordable. As a result, grassroots competitions began to emerge in which players would gather at local venues to play against one another and compete for small prizes.
These early competitions were often known as LAN parties, as they involved players connecting their computers together on a local area network in order to play against each other. The first LAN party is believed to have taken place in the early 1990s in Sweden, and similar events soon began to spring up around the world.
By the late 1990s, esports had begun to take on a more organized form. In 1997, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) was founded, which organized competitive tournaments in a variety of different games, including Quake and Unreal Tournament.
Over the next few years, esports continued to grow in popularity, with major sponsors such as Intel and Red Bull getting involved in supporting tournaments and events.
However, the true turning point for esports came in the early 2010s. In 2011, the League of Legends Championship Series was launched, which marked the first time that a major video game publisher had established a structured league for professional players. Around the same time, the International Dota 2 Championships were also launched, which offered a staggering $1 million prize pool.
Since then, esports has exploded in popularity, with tournaments drawing millions of viewers and huge amounts of prize money being awarded to winning teams. Today, games such as Fortnite, Overwatch, and CS:GO are hugely popular, with major esports organizations such as the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League established to support professional players.
Esports has also been thrust into the mainstream, with coverage on major sports networks such as ESPN and the formation of esports teams owned by major sports organizations such as the Philadelphia 76ers and the Dallas Cowboys.
Overall, the history of esports demonstrates just how far the medium has come in the past few decades. From humble beginnings as small LAN parties to massive global competitions with millions of fans, esports has truly become a global phenomenon. As the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve, it’s clear that esports will continue to hold a key place in the world of entertainment.