Like sweaty outside sports and golf, e-sports allow you to sit back and enjoy the competition, pick a favorite team, and bury yourself in the minutiae of the game. The only things that are missing are the chance to watch overpriced ads for beer and cars, and societal acceptance, but more on that later. I don’t know how to play these games well, but I have become expert at spectating. When I play, I can’t contribute at all to my team, but as a spectator, I can see the ebbs and flows of a match and can really appreciate a good play.
There are several different sports available to the discerning spectator. Call of Duty is the fast, reflex-driven game that you are more likely to see played at a frat party, so I will compare it to football. Starcraft is an intense battle of wits and skill that is played out between two players as they struggle for control over a small playing field, like tennis. Various fighting games are lightning-paced skirmishes between two players with incredible focus, also like tennis. My personal favorite is League of Legends, which is a game that rewards teamwork, creativity, and patience, like soccer.
Here is the interesting thing: I enjoy watching all of these, but I almost never play the game. I tried for a bit with League, but I don’t enjoy playing it as much as I like to watch it. It doesn’t help that I tried to play after watching countless high-level games. Like watching soccer on TV, the tendency is there to say, “I could do that,” and, like soccer, no you can’t.
I don’t want to argue that eventually e-sports will take their place at the Olympics, or that the players will be celebrated like Lance Armstrong was five years ago, or vilified like Lance Armstrong. I don’t know that we will ever live in that pasty, pasty world. I just hope that watching e-sports will be as accepted as watching golf on TV.
If you are even a little interested, I would recommend checking out a match or two. There are some great fighting games here, some fantastic League of Legends here, and nearly everything else here.