Overwatch, electronic sports engage the masses

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With over 30 million users playing Overwatch alone, eSports has become a worldwide trend, with a rapidly increasing fan base.

Electronic Sports, or eSports, are competitive video games played between users on PC and console. eSports pair those playing the same game into a tournament, in hopes of bringing up one’s rank within the game.

“Recently, I have become addicted to playing competitive video games,” senior Aaron Alexander said. “They don’t get old since you are constantly playing different people.”

Developed by Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch has an audience superior to most. With seven million players within the first week of its release, the first-person shooter and team-based video game now has over 30 million active users. Released in May of 2016 and named game of the year, it is available to play on PlayStation, Windows and Xbox One.

“When I first started playing Overwatch I didn’t enjoy it because it looks like it’s geared towards kids, but now I enjoy the competition and pace of it,” said substitute teacher and eSports enthusiast Steven Brooks.

Because they have such a large platform, televised competitions have formed. Hosted by ESPN, eSports has its own page on their website and annual televised conventions and tournaments.

“I have seen the live competitions on TV before,” senior Kobe Cannon said.

“I find it pretty cool that games I play are this well-known and played [around the world].”

Compared to other sports, electronic sports do not take athletic skill, but use cognitive learning and quick reactions as a skill set. Many athletes see it as a waste of time, but gamers say otherwise. People labeled a “Top 500” player in Overwatch have the ability to be paid and make a living off their skills.

“Being Top 500 is everyone’s dream when they play Overwatch. You can see that hard work pays off,” Cannon said.

Fans and users hoping to improve watch Twitch, a live stream service that displays others’ talents in gaming. Helpful videos aim to improve skills of those wanting to be competitive. Creators with thousands of subscribers can receive money in exchange for their gaming knowledge.

“I constantly watch Twitch because it really improves my playing skills and shows me different tricks that I wouldn’t know,” Cannon said.

As eSports continues to grow in popularity, the competitiveness and branding will likely continue to grow as well.

“I don’t plan to stop playing these games anytime soon,” Alexander said. “They are addicting, and I want to be a professional.”