The Definition of E-Sport

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The evolution of technology and the internet has seen to the rapid growth of online gaming. As the e-sports industry continues to develop, its value in the market economy and involvement in interrelated industrial chains also grow (Wingfield 2014, p. 2; Wang 2018, p. 35). Despite all these, the industry is faced with numerous challenges as it is still relatively young. The challenges include: lack of proper understanding by the public and targeted market; immatureness of the operational experience of the relevant management; and lack of predictability of the influences in the market (Valentine 2016, p. 25; Heidel 1996, p. 12; Clements and Ohashi 2005, p. 76; Ballman 2005, p. 12). Nonetheless, it remains one of the industries with the greatest potential for growth, development, and increased profitability.

The objectives of this paper are mainly reflected in:

1. The analysis of online game industry chain with the intent of understanding the online game operation method (Perron and Schröter 2016, 98; Hedrick et al. 2000, p. 5). The paper will review how the development of online games has generated its unique industrial structure and the need for companies to interact with numerous industries in a society while operating online games.

2. The exploration of the advantages and disadvantages of various profit models to explore the new profit model (Saarikoski and Suominen 2017, 67; Ho 2004, p. 1). It will also illustrate how online game profit method is generated from the network operators, game vendors, and game users to obtain the interests of the hands.

3. Measuring and defining the vital factors that led to the development of e-sports.

4. Determining the earlier study within this field, as well as to summarize their significance for this research.

5. Discovering the facets of e-sport that provides the definition of the essence of the business of e-sport.

Questions used during the Research

The questions in this study are based on the outcomes of earlier studies by Wingfield (2014). In this regard, three critical questions were drafted. They include:

1. What does e-sport mean, and to what extent are people aware of e-sport culture?

2. What are the main landmarks of the history of e-sport?

3. Why is e-sport experiencing growth in the present world, and which dynamics are pushing it to a higher level?

Literature Review

Definition of e-Sport

Notably, there exists a correlation between the different definitions of e-sports. As indicated by Stenros et al. (2011, p. 343), Oxford provides the definition of e-Sport as a game of computers that people play in professional competitions and is broadcast on television and the internet, particularly when fans watch. However, it is a definition that is not in existence in the online dictionaries and, thus, it is rarely used (Marchand and Hennig-Thurau 2013, p. 146). The definition by Wagner (2006, p. 437) in which he defines e-Sport as a field of activities of sport that encompasses sport stimulants whereby individuals train and enhance physical and mental capabilities in the application of information and communication technologies has, on the other hand, become popular. Hamari and Sjöblom (2017, p. 3) provide the definition of e-Sport as a recently recognized, though still debatable, field of sport that continues to rise from the gaming society. They state further that the game is based on cutthroat gaming in which individuals participate in different online games against or with one another. Such aggressive contests are regarded either as live audience, participant, or via streaming services that are also referred to as spectator services via the services provided by the Internet (Crick and Jones 2000, p. 71; Kaiser, C., Schlick and Bodendorf 2011, p. 825; Cleveland, Papadopoulos and Laroche 2011, p. 253). An example of Riot Games that had been carried out during the World Championship Finals is the “Legend’s League” that took place in 2013 (Lee and Schoenstedt 2011, p. 40; Pease and Crevelt 1998, p. 7). The event was conducted in Staple Center in Los Angeles in front of thirteen thousand fans, and a virtual audience that consisted of thirty-two million spectators via a range of platforms on World Wide Web (www) (Hamari and Sjöblom 2017, p. 2; Luciano Jr et al. 2000, 1). Notably, e-Sports’ size is critical in providing the definition of the field of e-Sports. According to Wagner (2006, p. 439), e-Sport’s financial size is approximated at $190 million; a figure that is higher than other known sports.

The Main Milestones in the History of e-Sport

Notably, there are only a few published scholarly works that associate with this topic. As noted by Wagner (2006, p. 439) the first e-Sport event that was conducted in 1981 was a major occasion in the arcade competition and it was called the ‘Space Invaders.’ In their journal, Borowy and Jin (2013, p. 2255) are questioning if such an occasion may be referred to as an e-Sport affair since it is based on the arcade sports that were in existence in the early 1980s. Lee and Schoenstedt (2011, p. 42) note that there were sporting activities that existed before e-Sport, though the events were never prevalent or big. An example of such sporting activities was the competition known as ‘Space War’ that was conducted in 1972. This event was the first event of e-Sport since it encompassed a prize. Additionally, Borowy and Jin (2013, p. 2257) demonstrate that the Space Invaders tournament ranks as the foremost contest of the video game ever staged.

Borowy and Jin (2013, p. 2259) are also emphatic that the next landmark can be observed as the Seattle-based contest Games that was carried out in October 28, 1981. More than $200,000 was spent to promote and finance the event, and the Sports’ field has never witnessed so much money collected in a single contest as it happened during that event. Additionally, the authors name the Electronic Circus and the National Video Game Master Tournament conducted in the USA in 1983 and 1984 as critical milestones due to its public endorsement. Annual events were also developed towards the end of 1980s in which the biggest event was the American Video Game Challenge. The subsequent main high point for the e-Sports is observed both by Wagner (2006, p. 440) and Borrow and Jin (2013, p. 2262) as taking the tournaments to television. A program that was named Starcade that featured different competitive gaming interviews and events was televised between 1982 and 1984. The three authors further illustrate that e-Sports continued to exist, though in small scale, until the beginning of 1990. The scale, they state, was majorly limited by the absence of technology. The introduction of technology in 1990 made the e-Sports multiplayer functionality easier and, thus, has resulted in an increase of players and events. Since then, the technology has made it possible for the games to be played on the Internet. Additionally, technology was critical in the creation of the FPS and RTS.

Stenros, Paavilainen, and Mäyrä (2011, p. 351) name the Cyberathlete Professional League’s (CPL) and the Red Annihilation Tournament that were conducted in 1997 as the two main occasions that made use of this expertise to the fullest. According to Tellis, Yin, and Niraj (2009, p. 144), these tournaments led to the birth of today’s e-Sports. The 1997s Red Annihilation Tournament’s achievement also generated a series of events that resulted into the creation of yearly events by different companies in which QuakeCon became one of the foremost examples (Watanabe 2015, p. 28; Knight et al. 2010, 1176; Torango 1999, 9). Additionally, Nintendo, which is a recognized distributer of online games, had its primary event in the start of the 1990s. The event that was referred to as the Nintendo World Championship attracted individuals around the globe (Stenros et al. 2011, p. 354; Lvov 2000, p. 1). The tournaments’ numbers have continued to increase, though at a slow pace. The year 2000 is regarded as one of the critical climaxing years in e-Sports. Another stand point is considered to be the World Cyber Games (WCG) which helped to craete tournaments that involved more than thirty-five nations. It also led to the creation of prize pools of not less than $600,000. Notably, WCG exhibited achievement that resulted in the foundation of critical e-Sports agencies such as the today’s IEM and MLG. Moreover, Wagner (2006) affirms the development of games like Starcraft (1998), Quake (1996), Warcraft (1994), Counter-Strike (1999) and Doom (1993) as the significant stand points in the development of e-Sports in the start of the 20th Century. Also, Watanabe (2015, p. 27) names the importance of the mid-20th Century for the e-Sports’ history since it is comprised of the development of the communities of the first e-Sport that is presently recognized in which, the foremost example that was generated in 2003 was the SK Gaming. The next milestone in e-Sports’ history is the live coverage’s launch that featured in the year 2007 through a website called Just that is presently called (Watanabe 2015, p. 30). The website made it possible for every professional player and every event to show matches through the Internet having put up shows with big televisions thereby making it easier to reach consumers.

Why is e-Sport continuing to grow today, and which Patterns or Factors are Responsible for its Growth?

Both Borrow and Jin (2013, p. 2257) and Reisner (2016, p. 3) attempt to answer this question by naming the significant Internet access not being in existence till the end of 1990 that gave rise to the chance to increase the community of e-Sport. Stenros et al. (2011, p. 356) are also categorical that a crucial element for the e-Sport growth is the increase of a range of leagues, principally Evolution Championship Series and Major League Gaming. This links with the thoughts of Stenros et al. (2011, p. 357) who asserts that the field of e-Sports lacked rules of organization that are present today. The launching of the streaming services of the Internet in 2007 was as well considered as a critical historic stand point that made it easier to observe the viewership of live streaming (Saarikoski and Suominen 2017, p. 31; James and Gillam, 1999, p. 3). Conversely, Hamari and Sjöblom (2017, p. 2) argue that such was just the start of something that plays an immense role in the e-Sports’ growth that is presently being seen. Nonetheless, is just a single channel; there subsist a wide facet of diverse channels like MLG.TV and HLTV that were the leading suppliers of the services that were being streamed during the start of the 20th Century. The number of sports event that are presently in existence might be considered as a blueprint that pushes the development of e-Sport upwards. Previously, Green and Bavelier (2015, p. 105) named the Legends’ League as a critical stand point, however, as Hamari and Sjöblom (2017, p. 2) argue in his piece of work, it is the sport genres that are responsible for the developments in the field of e-Sport.


Research Philosophy

To provide the definition of the approach of the study’s philosophy, the questions and the study’s aim must be taken into consideration (Gallagher and Park, 2002). Such helps in the creation of an understanding of the meaning of e-Sports and the reasons for its recent growth. To provide an answer to this, there is a need for the collection of qualitative data that will make it possible to understand the study’s aim as realism since the data that exist should be understood (Kuada 2012, p. 31; Lvov 2000, p. 34; Cole and Griffiths 2007, p. 580). Nonetheless, the research questions are quite imperative than the e-Sports’ culture and, hence, the pragmatism philosophy will be the most appropriate for this study. Scholars have indicated that pragmatism is a school of thought that significantly associates with the agenda of the research that, as regards the views of Anastas (2012, p. 17), are meant to mean that, “Pragmatism considers real effects or realistic consequences to be imperative elements of both truth and meaning.” The research questions majorly focus on significance, which is underlying principle of pragmatism in axiology.

Research Approach

Remarkably, using the induction approach will be more effective in carrying out this research. The induction approach is made use of when collecting qualitative data, as well as when there is a need to get a better comprehension of the collected data (Corbin and Strauss 2014, p. 21). However, the approach makes use of the button-up technique that twists everything around: Theory; Tentative Hypothesis; Pattern and; Observation (Corbin and Strauss 2014, p. 21).


A quantitative and qualitative approaches are made use of in this research. Qualitative approach can be defined as a technique that is used to acquire insightful information whereas, qualitative approach are made use of when gathering information for examining hypothesis (Anastas 2012, p. 21). Some of the qualitative and quantitative data that will be considered in this paper are interviews, participant observation, case studies, and textual analysis. This study will make use of the case studies of past research papers to offer a good comprehension of the e-sports’ significant development.

Methods of Data Collection

Questionnaire Surveys

The data to be collected will entail the insightful information that is concerned with e-sports’ operations, as well as its future. For that reason, the study will rely on the use of likert questions since they are the most effective for collecting information from participants (Edson, Buckle, and Sankaran 2017, p. 19; Rodriguez et al. 2016, 34; Ba, Whinston, and Zhang 2000, p. 56; Venkatraman and Lee 2004, p. 12). Using them will involve administering questions that are answered using an agreement scale to assess how well the participants conquer with commonly authored observations in the field (Ludlow and De Beneducci 1994, p. 5). The survey will be administered to twenty-five participants who will be randomly chosen then informed of the risks and benefits of engaging in a research, as emphasized by Edson, Buckle and Sankaran (2017, p. 21).


An observation of the past case studies about e-sports will be crucial in understanding e-sports better. The study will focus on the analysis of a restricted number of conditions or events and how they interrelate. According to Corbin and Strauss (2014, p. 21) and Corts and Lederman (2009, 23), a case study can be used when investigating a particular case to get an understanding of the case and even acquire additional knowledge. He specifies further that a case can exist in the form of an industry, an individual, a community, a group, or an institution.


Surveys are critical techniques of data collection (Corbin and Strauss 2014, p. 21; Saffari et al. 2001, 4; Hedrick et al. 2000 5) which is why the study will consider categorizing a number of institutions, industries, or individuals that have engaged in online games and analyze their involvement in the e-sport industry. It will then carry out a survey on what they understand about e-sport and the role that such institutions have played in its growth as a form of game.


The study intends to sample critical literature reviews and case studies of the institutions that have participated in online gaming. The main intention will be to find out how online game has experienced growth amongst the institutions and individuals and how it is perceived as a whole.

Access to Primary and Secondary data

This research paper will depend on interviews that will be conducted on fans of the online gaming as this is the best way of achieving efficacy (Corbin and Strauss 2014, p. 19; Dickinson 1999, 2; Brossard 2001, 4). Online interview will also be critical as it will be used to interview the employees of the e-sport industry who cannot be reached, or the workers whose work schedule is tight. Most importantly, as regards observation and sampling, the research intends to depend greatly on the past case studies that have analyzed their findings on the e-sport industry. The analysis will be on the basis of the information that has been gathered via companies or persons just as done by Anastas (2012, p. 31). Afterwards, the gathered data will be used to acquire statistical information that will be vital in the prediction of e-sports’ future by use of analytic tools.

Edson, Buckle and Sankaran (2017, p. 21) assert that the process of collecting data will always require that information is attained from a number of organizations, and therefore, the researcher will reach a range of selected organizations through emails to seek their consent. Additionally, the consent forms will be forwarded to them through emails as well. Online interview, as applied in the research by Corbin and Strauss (2014, p. 22) will be greatly encouraged in situations that will be impossible to have a face to face interview with the workers of such organizations. There will be the need to explain to such institutions that the research is not ill-intentioned, but rather, a way of acquiring additional information (Park and Jun 2003, p. 540; Okazaki and Taylor 2013, p. 61; Vargo and Lusch 2004, p. 8; Dickinson, Schreiber, and Pease 1993, p. 2). Additionally, the research will investigate into detail the background of the companies that will be involved in the study.

Table 1: Project Schedule

Source: Own editing

Personal Reflection

It was a good experience to get to know of the meaning of e-Sports and the factors that have led to its growth across the world. I discovered that e-sport, though not known by many, is one of the sporting activities that attract huge crowds; it has led to the economic empowerment of some countries, especially in the continents like Asia and Europe. It was also great to learn of how some people like online gaming compared to live games that are played in stadia. The most interesting bit was the collection of data in which I interacted with people of diverse cultural backgrounds.


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January 19, 2024

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