The esports events scene has become a crux of modern gaming.
It helps fuel the ambition of new competitive games, inspire the scene’s innovative players, and entertain its devoted fans.
However, that’s not always been the case.
Like all phenomena, esports began when hard-working, creative people had a fun idea and made it happen.
So let’s go back to 1958, where esports began.
People started creating video games as early as the 50s when scientists began to fiddle with putting tic tac toe and other small games on their computer systems.
However, the first actively multiplayer game came in 1958 with Tennis for Two.
Unlike Tic Tac Toe, the two players could actively interact simultaneously to change the course of the game and compete against one another.
This pattern of scientists building games in their spare time didn’t stop.
By 1962, they were creating more complex games that were getting a lot more attention.
On the new minicomputers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a group of developers made Spacewar!.
Spacewar! featured two spaceships, the needle and the wedge, both operated by human players.
The goal was to be the last surviving spaceship. It became a hit among early game enthusiasts.
Just a decade later, Spacewar! was popular enough for the Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University to hold the Intergalactic Spacewar! Olympics.
On October 19th, 24 participants came together and held the first widely noted esports tournament.
The winners got a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
And esports only grew from there.
Spread of Multiplayer Competitions
The 1980s saw the first large-scale video game competitions.
One of the most impressive early tournaments involved a famous classic arcade game: Space Invaders.
This 1980 tournament was on a much larger scale than Spacewar!, with over 10,000 participants and widespread media attention.
Even the prize was larger, as the winner got their own, personal arcade machine of the game.
This decade also saw the evolution of arcade competition, with game systems recording high scores, giving fans new goals to beat.
Also, in 1988, a new kind of multiplayer video game joined the market: Netrek. Instead of comparing high scores of 1v1 battles, Netrek could host 16 competing players in one game.
Using the internet, it simulated a Star Trek themed real-time strategy game for the participants.
Each player could play as the Klingons, the Federation, etc., and fight each other to control the galaxy (which consisted of 40 planets).
However, esports had yet to reach the point where it was taken seriously as a sport.
Video Games Are Not a Fad
Esports gained even more momentum in the 1990s.
In 1990, Nintendo (better known now for Super Smash Bros. tournaments) held the Nintendo World Championships.
Participants played three mini-games based on Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris.
The competition toured across the US and ended in Universal Studios Hollywood, California.
The final winner won $10,000, a car, a TV, and a gold-plated Mario trophy.
Esports also began to show up on TV, with British shows like Gamesmaster and Bad Influence!, the Australian A*mazing, and Canada’s Video Game & Arcade Top 10.
During the late 90s, esports gaming was finally serious enough for players to form the first major gaming league.
They were called the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL). The CPL included games like the early Counter-Strike titles, Quake, Starcraft, and Warcraft.
Where Esports Is Now
Nowadays, esports is a dominant part of the gaming community.
Popular esports like LoL, CS:GO, DOTA 2, Street Fighter, and more hold major sporting events with large viewerships and prize pools.
In 2018, LoL set viewership records by recording 60 million unique viewers for the Mid-Season Invitational. Similarly, 2019 saw new prize heights when the DOTA 2 International prize pool topped at $34.33 million.
Weplay Esports themselves have become a notable contributor to the esports scene, hosting their own DOTA 2, CS:GO, LoL, Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, etc. tournaments.
They’ve coordinated over a dozen competitions throughout the years, with prize pools up to $500,000.
Esports and the community around it have become such a driving force in changing the landscape of the way people look at sports.
If anything, competitive games are only becoming more popular, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Petr is a serial tech entrepreneur and the CEO of Apro Software, a machine learning company. Whenever he’s not blogging about technology for itechgyan.com or softwarebattle.com, Petr enjoys playing sports and going to the movies. He’s also deeply interested in mediation, Buddhism and biohacking.