Written by Scarlett Martin • Published 16th March 2020 • 2 minute read

The world of competitive gaming is one of the fastest-growing industries globally. The Electronic Sports League (eSports), is quickly becoming recognised as a profession; the industry has turned casual gamers into worldwide stars. With the potential to win seven-figure cheques and huge brand endorsement deals, the eSports industry has predicted revenues that will exceed $1 billion by 2020.

Games such as Fortnite, League of Legends and Call of Duty are watched by millions of spectators. In fact, the number of global eSports fans are expected to grow to 495 million in 2020. Spectators can watch these games by attending arenas to watch the event live, much like more traditional sports. Or, tune into them through services like Twitch or Smashcast, whereby fans are able to watch the best gamers play in real-time.

Despite its growth in popularity, eSports has several tricky issues in the virtual playing field.

 Diversity in eSports 

eSports has been heavily criticised in recent years for its lack of diversity, both for the lack of female gamers and those from minority backgrounds. Whilst gaming is gender inclusive (unlike traditional sports where women only compete against women) there is still a lack of female players at the top and female gamers are heavily outnumbered by their male counterparts.

In addition to this, racism is one of the many issues plaguing competitive gaming, which is contributing to the racial gap in this sector. One reason for the lack of diversity may lie in the routes of esports – the video games themselves. Online gaming is a hostile, competitive environment where emotions run high and insults are unfortunately part of the landscape.

The prolific racism experienced from online gaming causes social isolation and discourages gameplay. In addition to this, there are very few high profile BAME players. Therefore, people of colour do not see themselves represented in the gaming world. The lack of both gender and ethnic diversity creates a barrier to entry for professional players that their white, straight, male counterparts do not have to deal with.

Because of the lack of diversity in eSports, there are several organisations like AnyKey and SKYLLA, who are working towards making eSports a more diverse and inclusive playing field.

 Cheating  

In any competitive environment with high stakes there will always be people who want to bend the rules. In the case of eSports, the ‘referees’ are likely to come in the form of anti-cheat technologies from the likes of Kaspersky, who have developed algorithms, machine learning and pre-match computer scans. Cheating is a real threat to the industry, so if a gamer is caught this often results in lifetime bans from specific games.

Are you interested in discovering how public relations can raise your business profile in eSports? Get in touch today, our team of award-winning experts are ready to assist you in your journey.