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As a comparatively new entry to the world of competition, eSports have many features that set them apart from their traditional physically-based cousins. While the overarching ideal of honest competition remains the same, it’s the differences that introduce significant challenges in bringing eSports into the mainstream. Taking a look at just a few of these differences can reveal the teething pains that eSports still suffers in the modern age, and the complicated relationship they have with traditional sporting endeavors.

Setting eSports Apart

When looking at the differences between sports and eSports, there aren’t any enormous factors that separate the two arenas. Rather, it’s the constant smaller differences between how aspects of the two are presented that create an overall separate environment.

For spectators, the most obvious example of disparities could be found in how the two areas are represented in the media. For an example of this, consider how betting services report on traditional sports. On these news websites, the main stage naturally goes to the bigger names like football, racing, and tennis, focussing on well-understood ideas like game performance and player transfers. Though eSports news is now being included within many of these sites, they’re often tucked to the side. The reason for this isn’t just popularity either, it’s also due to the far more esoteric language and concerns that eSports titles generate.


League of Legends World Championship Fin” (CC BY 2.0) by Richard Ye (yerich)

In terms of the players themselves, the biggest factor separating sports and eSports is the ease of participation. Regular sports can only be played at certain times, in certain weather conditions, in certain places, and only when enough people physically gather to make play possible. eSports, on the other hand, can be played at all times, no matter the weather, and at distances of thousands of miles. As long as you have a machine and an internet connection, players are effectively good to go.

While all of these aspects are benefits in favor of eSports, perhaps the biggest boon comes from accessibility. In eSports, people of all ages can play together, where health issues are far less pronounced than they are in physical games. Even when physical disabilities do come into play, dedicated teams and the ease of connectivity through the internet allow many more players to engage than in traditional sports.

Of course, not all of these disparities are positive, and it’s in game practice that this issue is the most pronounced. In physical sports, training is separated into well-understood periods. The line of too much practice causing exhaustion and physical harm is well-understood, but the same is not true in eSports. In video games, players don’t experience the same form of physical exhaustion, which can lead them to practice more than is healthy. It’s a real concern in the current environment, and one which many health professionals believe is in serious need of being addressed.

Todos los ojos en Xikii” (CC BY 2.0) by artubr

Creating a Cooperative Future

Though there are some key differences between sports and eSports that can never be bridged, there are also concepts that could and should be shared from the physical to the digital. Over hundreds of years, there are components of physical sports that have helped not just keep them popular, but also safe for competitors. While admittedly difficult to implement, the ideals of safe play and sportsmanship are going to require some major eSports shakeups going forward. For the sake of current players and the teams of tomorrow, let’s hope these changes come sooner rather than later.


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