E-sport, this sporting discipline which brings together more than 100 million spectators

E-sport, this sporting discipline which brings together more than 100 million spectators

There were 180,000 visitors flocking to Paris Games Week, the largest exhibition dedicated to video games in France, from November 1 to 5. That is 21% more than in 2021. Thousands of aficionados, including hundreds wearing colorful disguises of characters from the most famous games, were able to test up to 300 games.

Six members of the government even visited this fair, including the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire. And for good reason: for two years, with a turnover of 5.3 billion euros, the video game market has risen to the forefront of our country’s best-selling cultural products.

And according to a survey by the Union of Leisure Software Publishers, 73% of French people over 18 have tried it. Among them, a growing number are fans of e-sport. This portmanteau designates electronic sport, i.e. professional and competitive practice, solo or in teams, using a video game as a support.

An excitement from Asia

“The first gamers (read glossary at the end of this article) appeared in the mid-1990s in South Korea with the organization of competitions at the end of which participants were paid,” recalls Justine Boulanger, member of the Women in Games association. The activity then spread across the globe. In France, the first meetings were organized in the early 2000s, but it was not until 2016 that e-sport was officially recognized as a sporting discipline.

Since then, there has been excitement: opening of specialized bars, creation of players’ associations, setting up teams, festivals, organization of competitions throughout France. With the apotheosis being held at the Accor Arena in Bercy, in Paris, on November 11, 2019, of the final of the World Championships. League of Legendss (one of the most famous video games in the world) in front of 15,000 spectators… and nearly 100 million who followed this match live on mondovision, via various social networks. Among the latter, William Amavi from Toulouse. As a student, 20 years old at the time, he was unable to go to Paris. But, thanks to the Twitch platform, he didn’t miss a beat of this historic final.

An expanding world

The main advantage of e-sport: you can play or follow games from your room. “For my first virtual football matches, in the 2010s, I was delighted to face opponents that the algorithms offered me on five continents,” remembers William.

Today, with the development of innovative technologies and social networks, the number of gamers has exploded, particularly among young people born between 1995 and 2001, who arrived in the world almost with a games console in hand. They “scroll” (scroll the pages on the screen, Editor’s note) handle controllers, touchscreen tablets, smartphones and computers with unrivaled dexterity, and have a relationship with screens and virtual imaginary worlds different from that of their elders.

The video game industry jumped at the opportunity and regularly offers games classified into several families: sports simulations, strategy games, combat games, survival games, immersion games, etc. “Each gives rise to a real culture, in the sense that individuals who play a game make up a community. They share the same codes, values, standards, language, equipment, and transmit them to each other in a more or less formal way,” analyzes Nicolas Besombes, sociologist specializing in e-sport.

This community dimension, which can confine people, constituted a real recourse for Max Macky, 27 years old, engineer in Serris (Seine-et-Marne). Having become a gamer during the confinements of 2020, he testifies: “During this period, playing online allowed me to break the isolation to which Covid forced me. Since then, I haven’t stopped. Unfortunately, I’m not good enough to become a professional. »

A fierce competition

The information on the huge gains – in tens of thousands of euros – made by e-sport stars (thanks to their victories and sponsorship) and their numerous happenings in France and abroad is enough to make you dream more than one.

Like the Frenchwoman Marie-Laure Norindr, aka Kayane, the most successful fighting game player in the world. But going from amateur to professional status is no easy feat. Justine Boulanger, who also teaches narrative design at the School of Video Game and E-Sport Professions (XP), in Paris, insists: “There are many called and few chosen, like in the world of cinema or high-end sport level. » And to get there, the sacrifices are numerous: between eight and twelve hours of training per day, recourse to strategy coaches, physical and mental trainers – even physiotherapists, because even if the practice of e-sport is not It is not physical in the proper sense of the term, it can cause stiff neck, dislocations, tendinitis or sprains…

E-sport has left several hundred young candidates on the road to success unprepared for the demands of this profession. But most e-sport fans – 3.1 billion worldwide including 430 million Europeans – are content to play as amateurs and crowd into the stadiums or sit in front of their computers to be part of the public, when the best in the world compete.

With what consequences? Some are sounding the alarm about the dangers of addiction. Max Macky is categorical: “We must not confuse this healthy leisure activity with addiction to hard drugs. » Nevertheless, e-sport is too recent to have been the subject of reliable studies, as Justine Boulanger objects. In the meantime, the precautionary principle is compatible with the pleasure of playing.

The esports glossary

Acronyms and expressions from English constitute the jargon of e-sport. Here are some illustrations.

  • Avatar: character from a video game.
  • Casu Or Casual gaming: casual gamer.
  • Combo: succession of actions or blows allowing you to achieve an unstoppable sequence.
  • Cosplay: dress up as a fictional character and play them at gamer gatherings.
  • Free to play: free access game.
  • Gamer: name given to video game players.
  • Glitch: cheated.
  • THE G : bug or slowdown of the game resulting from the loss or instability of an internet connection.
  • MMO: online game, where many players play together.
  • Speedrun: is about finishing a game as quickly as possible.
  • Ragequit: leave a game angrily because you lose.
  • IRL Or In real life: refers to encounters that take place in the real world.
  • Retrogaming: playing video games on older generations of consoles or computers.
  • Wipe: refers to dying in the game.

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