Socialisation and belonging to society is a basic need of every human being. Every sphere of our life, from shopping to work and home, is somehow connected with interaction with people. Computer games are no exception.
In the early days of gamification, computer games were created as an opportunity to escape reality and escape from socialization, but over time their concept has changed considerably. Modern games have become another way for people to interact with each other. This is especially evident in the example of competitive online games.
Online games gradually gained popularity in the gaming industry and by the 20s became a separate market player. Moreover, they became part of a more global and older industry directly related to competitive – betting. In 2023 there are dozens esports bet sites where millions of users play, forming their own community.
In general, the issue of community and communication between people in competitive games is an important topic, and we decided to delve deeper into it. Let’s talk about how competitive gaming builds communities, brings people together, what happens and what the future holds for the competitive gaming and esports industry.
Shared Passion and Global Connections
Having talked about the need for people to gather in a community above, we need to understand why they do it. It’s really quite simple here: it’s a desire to share a common hobby and passion. Computer games fulfill these functions perfectly, and a competitive one even more so.
The main benefit of competitive games and esports is accessibility. Online games do not tie players to one geographical location and allow you to communicate with people from different parts of the world. Moreover, modern competitive games, thanks to the game terminology accumulated over the years break language barriers, which used to be a serious obstacle to convenient interaction.
Another reason why competitive games have developed communities is their genres and features. For the most part, all major competitive titles are team-based disciplines. CSGO, Dota 2, League of Legends, VALORANT, R6, Overwatch, and others all require honed teamwork to succeed. The popularity of the aforementioned titles only increases the involvement in competitive online games with more and more players from different parts of the world. For example, in Dota 2 alone there are 6 professional regions, in each of which at least 16 teams play in professional tournaments. In League of Legends and VALORANT this number is even higher, as the developer Riot Games pays a lot of attention to the even development of its products in all regions.
Popular competitive games are probably the main place for community gathering, but far from the only one. There are other spaces online to form communities and clubs around The International.
Digital Platforms as Gathering Spaces
In the era of digitalisation of all spheres of life, digital platforms have come to play an important role in the global The International Internet. Roughly speaking, they have replaced live meetings, but they help cross geographical and language boundaries.
Among the most popular platforms for gamers are Discord and Reddit. The first messenger was created just for gamers, although in 2023 it reached a new level. Extensive functionality and convenience of the programme allows you to create servers for a common game, gather in the evenings to watch professional matches and just spend time with friends and like-minded people online. Reddit, on the other hand, is the “main” page of The International ernet. The global forum has sections about literally everything in the world and, of course, about eSports and competitive games. On Reddit, you can create threads with team searches, discuss the personal lives of esports stars, or start holy wars between fans of different consoles.
Steam is one of the most popular digital platforms suitable for creating a community. Although Steam is basically about buying games and digital commerce, it is quite developed as a digital shop in terms of community building. There is an opportunity to create groups and communicate with users of the site online both through chat and voice.
Tournaments and Spectator Engagement
Basically, computer games and esports are about remote leisure. But even here there is a place for live communication. This happens at esports tournaments.
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of offline tournaments, because without them there would simply be no esports. Who knows where the industry would be if The International had not happened in 2011. The world’s largest eSports tournament at the time offered a participant an unbelievable amount of prize money – a whole million dollars – for winning the computer game championship. Over time, the prize money grew, and in 2021, the TI’s prize pool totalled a whopping $40,000,000.
Valve with their The International set the tone and since 2011 there have been more and more big events in the world of esports, such as the League of Legends Worlds. In general, if The International is about big prizes and “elitism”, then Worlds is about show and entertaining the public in the first place. Riot Games, the host of the Worlds championship series, always makes an unforgettable show by inviting world stars like Imagine Dragons, Lil Nas X to the tournaments.
The International and Worlds events seduce and expand the community of e-sports games, bringing it closer to the standard sports.
The Future of E-Sports Communities
In the future, Worlds and The International tournaments will remain, but they will clearly change. In a period of rapid progress, e-sports tournaments will also change. First of all – from the technical aspects.
Already now the top championships are using augmented reality and 3D-animation technologies, and with the development of The International and other alternative realities, the quality of “filling” tournaments will only increase.
It is obvious that esports will involve a wider audience of players. This will happen due to the variety of competitive games of different genres and marketing investments of developers.
Communities in video games remain of key importance to developers of these very games. By trying to involve more players in their projects, they will develop gaming communities and everyone will benefit from this: both the participants of these communities and the developers. In addition, more and more virtual spaces will appear on the web for fellow gamers and fans of competitive gamers in particular and esports in general.