Editorial: A new horizon in online gaming – esports as the next, next-big-thing – Worcester Telegram

A special state commission delving into the world of online gaming, driven to a great degree by the sudden explosion of daily fantasy sports a couple of years ago, caught sight of another next big thing – esports.

Daily fantasy sports involves drafting teams of real players and tracking their actual performances in a game or, for traditionalists, over a season. Two weeks ago we wrote about the commission’s addressing, at last, a serious need for state oversight of the hardware and software that drive this billion-dollar industry. We’ve been advocating this for nearly two years to help assure that hackers, for instance, don’t penetrate these billion-dollar operations. The sooner Massachusetts catches up with other states in this regard, the better.

But unlike drafting a Rob Gronkowski and tracking his performance on any given Sunday, esports tracks video game players competing against each other in cyberspace. Except for the professional players themselves, this isn’t so much about people competing in video games as it is about people watching other people play video games in leagues or in one-on-one competition. And not just viewing through streaming services, but buying tickets to show up and watch in person, too. The state report noted that 9,000 tickets were sold for an international tournament at the Wang Center in Boston last December to see who would capture $3 million in prize money.

If you think watching others play video games is an obscure corner of the gaming world, think again.

“Esports have been gaining traction as a spectator activity as 40 percent of all esports viewers do not play the game themselves, and more people globally watch esports than the World Series or NBA Finals,” the commission finds. Twitch, a leading subscription streaming service that carries competitions, was purchased by Amazon three years ago

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