Epic Games facilitated the largest competition in their history with a staggering $100 million invested towards the prize money, according to site PC Gamer. Since the launch of Fortnite in Sept. of 2017, it has grown to be one of the most popular online games in the world. Established gamers from around the world, who are considered the best Fortnite players were invited to compete in this eSport competition.
Fortnite is a free-to-play third-person shooter game with two modes of gameplay. One, called Save the World, is a single player campaign mode. The other, Battle Royale, is the more popular online mode. In Battle Royale, the player is airdropped onto a map without any items or weapons. Players spend the match finding and farming resources to take down opposing players. Structures on the map can be salvaged for resources and used to build structures to protect the player. The last player alive wins the game, regardless of their number of kills. Fortnite has been a wild success for Epic Games, boasting over 200 million total members and revenues that have surpassed nine figures, according to PC Gamer.
There are hundreds of gaming competitions held around the world that are organized by some of the most popular gaming companies. These events are even broadcasted by a few of the largest sports networks, such as ESPN. The label eSport has been a major topic of discussion, and whether or not video games can be considered sports. Some consider it an affront to conventional sports to place video game competitions under the same umbrella.
On one side, some argue that a game like Fortnite cannot be considered a sport based simply on the definition of what a sport is. The first five words of the Oxford definition are “an activity involving physical exertion.” Those who defend conventional sports claim that though video game players exert themselves when pressing buttons on a controller or a keyboard, this exertion is minuscule compared to the exertion of athletes in physical sports. A tennis player spends countless hours practicing the sport, while also attempting to achieve peak physical fitness. Video game players spend many hours training as well, but this training is spent in front of a screen. Those who disagree with using the word eSport acknowledge that it does take skill to be as good as the players involved in a Fortnite competition; they simply disagree with the label.
Those on the side of eSports being grouped with conventional sports argue against the notion that gaming does not involve physical exertion. In fact, competitions can last several hours, with players pushing buttons in oftentimes uncomfortable positions the whole time. Another argument made for eSports is the fact that there are already unconventional sports being broadcasted. Sports that require less physical exertion, such as bowling and darts, are occasionally broadcasted on sports networks.
The dedication to gaining skill in Fortnite is one of the reasons many gamers claim it should be labeled as a sport. Players spend hours upon hours training and enhancing their techniques. They also work with teammates developing cohesive strategies, much like any conventional sports team. Just like the X’s and O’s of a basketball coach’s playbook, Fortnite teams develop gameplans of their own. This includes where they want to position themselves on the map, what weapons they’ll use, what kind of structures they’ll build and a host of other decisions.
Whether or not video game competitions can be considered a sport, their popularity is undeniable. According to Forbes, eSports is a burgeoning market, on pace to outearn even conventional sports. According to Forbes, franchises such as League of Legends and Overwatch are valued at as much as $50 million. The gaming company Blizzard even made a deal with Disney to have competitions broadcasted on their networks, including ESPN and ABC. With the rising status of Fortnite, it’s easy to predict that their competitions can achieve this kind of success. The label of eSport doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.