An Aimless Endeavor

Ryan Modafe

February 24, 2023

Gaming has evolved in today’s society to not only act as a transportation device to a desired fantasy, but into an entire industry amassing a colossal $1.4 billion in 2022. Esports has gone from a vague and niche community of competitive gamers to being recognized as an official sport by multiple countries including South Korea, the US, China, Finland, Germany, and an ever growing list of others. Even with these nations beginning to acknowledge the esports genre as an emerging sport, it still begs the question: What constitutes a sport? And do esports fall into this category? With viewership of esports rising to dominate over traditional sport viewership and so many impressionable teenagers watching these events, esports may also be perpetuating the wrong message for up and coming young adults.

A sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Esports check the boxes for all categories except for the largely debated one of “physical exertion”. Among the many arguments posed around the topic varying from how esports players experience the same if not more stress and pressure as normal athletes, get up to high heart rates, and require physical fitness to perform at the maximum of their ability, none of these address the main concern of what occurs during a competitive match. Due to the nature of esports, the activity is completely sedentary with almost no actual physical movement involved other than with the hand which faces no resistance as it would in a true sport like weight lifting. Therefore, esports is an innately non-strenuous activity, and would not be a suitable candidate to be considered a sport. 

Unfortunately, the consequences of the rise in popularity of esports and its promotion as a sport have not only ended in boatloads of cash for major corporations but also have resulted in a festering wound in the adolescent atmosphere, drawing in misguided individuals to seek an unrealistic future. Over 90% of teenagers engage in gaming and many of them are led to believe that they should pursue a career in professional gaming either by the enticing amount of money top level gamers make or by the high status gained from such a title among viewers. However, they are being led astray as the average gamer makes $56,167 annually which is a far cry from the top 0.01% of professionals who have made above seven figures in some years. Going pro is not as easy as simply being given permission to game rampantly with endless “fun”, but involves very hard and dedicated work, more so than many other jobs and can easily develop a burnout phase. Professionals are expected to be able to hone in their skills and devote their life and soul to increasing their skill by playing above 8 hours per day which can become monotonous and dull very quickly. All this grueling work ends in most gamers retiring in their early twenties leaving a full life ahead of them with no path to follow. 

Gaming does not help to increase any real world attributes such as intelligence, speed, strength, or stamina. With decades ahead of their lives and no valuable information or skills obtained to be used in the real world job market that can have real world impacts, life can easily become a desolate wasteland of living paycheck to paycheck, working night shifts, with no future in sight and struggling to survive. The whole act needs to be transparent and truthful, not only showing off one snippet of the scene.