Video games that are broadcast live on the Internet were thrown into the national spotlight Sunday when a gunman opened fire during a “Madden” gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Florida that fans were watching online.
Broadcasting these types of events on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube has become extremely popular as interest in competitive video games, also known as esports, has surged in recent years.
Fans can watch Twitch streams from their phone, computer, tablet or video game console, such as Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 4. As with other live streaming services, viewers can also comment on the streams to interact with the broadcasters and other watchers in real time.
About 380 million people worldwide are expected to watch esports in 2018, including 165 million enthusiasts, according to gaming research firm Newzoo.
Footage apparently showing the live feed of Sunday’s Jacksonville tournament hit social media following the incident. The sound of multiple gunshots and chaos could be heard on the video, though the shooter was not visible.
What are video game tournaments?
Video game tournaments are similar to other sporting events where players gather to compete. Many popular games, including “Fortnite,” “Call of Duty” and “Overwatch,” have tournaments, sometimes run by the game publishers themselves and other times run by individual stores, gaming communities or locations like the game bar in Jacksonville.
Sports games such as “Madden,” “FIFA” and “NBA 2K” are particularly popular for tournaments, as gamers can take their favorite sports teams and try to prove they are the best at their virtual craft.
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Who can attend these tournaments and where are they held?
These tournaments are generally open to the public. Some are free to attend, while others charge a fee for tickets. They take place at various locations, including bars, gaming shops and even public libraries.
Tournament details are often shared online and can be found on social media networks such as Facebook.
Larger events, such as those for “League of Legends” playoffs and championships, even take place in stadiums such as New York’s Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Thousands of fans pay for tickets to watch these events live and in person. Some 18,000 people filled MSG for two straight nights in 2016, paying between $46 and $61 to attend.
How are these events viewed remotely?
As the gaming community has grown in prominence online, many of these tournaments, particularly smaller ones, also stream their events for free using Twitch or YouTube.
The popularity of online video game streaming is so strong that Amazon bought Twitch for nearly $1 billion in 2014.
How much money is involved in esports and live video game tournaments?
The amount of money involved varies.
For some of the larger, more professional tournaments, purses for winning can reach millions of dollars. Other, much smaller events pay out much less, such as hundreds of dollars in cash or even just $25 Visa gift cards.
Sunday’s Jacksonville event, the “Southeast Qualifier” for Electronic Arts’ official “Madden 19 Classic” tournament, was the first round of an event that runs until the second week of October. The winner of the overall tournament was set to receive a cash prize of $25,000.
The global esports market is expected top $905 million in 2018, up 38 percent from 2017, according to Newzoo.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal
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