Esports – Why the Current Format Faces Extinction

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

Esports are the fastest growing business in the world. Around 400 million people will watch e-sports events in 2017 – mostly online, but also on television and at live events.

I couldn’t believe this when I heard about it but it’s true. The revenue from eSports is fast approaching $1 billion a year. People pay to watch other people play computer games. Some watch game players online. Some sit in a hall and watch big screens showing pictures of other people in the hall playing computer games against one another.

Esports are becoming so popular that some say they will soon be bigger than real sports. The best computer game players are becoming mini stars. They are paid huge sums and they have coaches and managers. Computer games seem set to be medal events at the 2022 Asian Games.

But the disruptors will soon themselves be disrupted.

eSports may be the future for sport and entertainment but there will be no long-term role for humans. Human players and commentators are easily replaced with computers which will be better and faster. The eSports industry will be disrupted and totally computerised within three to five years. It will be machine versus machine; all self-operating and self-programming.

There are several good reasons for this. All relate to the psychological make-up of the millennials (sometimes known as ‘snowflakes’) and the Z generation – almost exclusively the sole consumers of eSports.

For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to both generations as ‘divas’.

First, today’s generations of divas are loners. They may be well linked on social media but intrinsically they are loners. They communicate with one another almost exclusively through mobile phones and other gadgets. They are poor at communicating face to face. The market for arena eSports will collapse within the next few years. The demand will be exclusively for battles fought online – which can be viewed on personal screens, without any human contact. Tomorrow’s generation will demand that the human factor is removed from eSports.

Second, the enthusiasm for genuine violence has been increasing apace for decades. Horror films which were successful a generation or two ago (and regarded as terrifying by previous generations) are now regarded as so feeble as to be comedic. Each generation becomes immune to levels of violence which shocked the previous generation. Tomorrow’s enthusiasts are going to require even more violence. However, the rise in the power of the health and safety police will mean that it will not be possible for there to be any real danger when humans are battling. Watching computers fight each other to death will satisfy all the new urges – while satisfying legal requirements. The viewing figures for battles between self-controlled humanoid robots will be huge. The humanoid robots will battle to the death – until the vanquished collapses in a puddle of cogs, wires and lubricating oil.

Third, divas are innately selfish. They see the world only as it exists to them. Tomorrow’s divas will not want to watch other divas doing anything – let alone playing computer games. Watching inanimate objects warring will allow them to be entertained without any genuine human contact and without them being expected to idolise other divas – an anathema to the next diva generation.

ESports aficionados will be horrified by this. A young industry is already threatened with extinction.

The divas, who have already destroyed many industries, will find these truths difficult to accept. But bookshops, record shops and travel agencies did not see the changes coming either.

I suspect that eSports staff don’t realise how fast things are changing. And they probably don’t realise that no industry is immune to disruption.

The eSports industry was born just a blink ago. And Stage One eSports will be obsolete in another blink.

It will be replaced by another industry which will supply the needs of the divas. The future in eSports lies with software engineers and mechanical engineers who can build robots and warring computers. They will be the only humans involved in Stage Two eSports.

Some working in eSports (who probably regard themselves as disruptors) may find it difficult to accept that their industry can be disrupted so totally.

But no one is immune to change, and sticking your head in the sand is a sure route to extinction. (As well as getting sand in your ears.)

The bottom line is that tomorrow’s generation is going to prefer to cheer on computers playing other computers rather than people playing people.

It won’t be possible to have a fight to the death between two human players. But it will be possible to have a fight to the death between two computers or two humanised robots.

The possibilities for Stage Two eSports are vast and exciting.

But Stage One eSports, dated and dull, is already closer to extinction than most in the industry realise.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 12th September 2017