History of video games/Esports

Early History


First game tournament


The first video game tournament occurred at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California on October 19th, 1972 with the Spacewar! as the game being played.[1]

Other early events


A world championship was held in 1981.[2]



Nintendo World Championship


The 1990 Nintendo World Championships was a major event.[3][4]

Age of Fighting Games


A number of StreetFighter II versions were made.[5] Over the course of development, ideas from fan modifications were integrated with the official product to create a superior experience.[6]

Rise of competitive FPS


Many notable events like Quakecon first saw a start during the 1990's.[7]

Dennis Fong, known as the ace Quake and Doom player Thresh, helps popularize the control scheme WASD.[8][9]





StarCraft becomes a hit in South Korea as an esport, with it's popularity lasting over a decade.[10] In 2000 World Cyber Games (WCG) is established.[11] StarCraft also gains popularity in China, especially in internet cafes.[11] Following Chinese players winning several gold medals at WGC Seoul 2003, the Ministry of Sports of the Chinese government recognizes esports as an official sport in November 2003,[12][11] becoming one of the first major governments to do so.

Important Developments


In 2001 Russia becomes the first nation to recognize Esports as a sport, though the government later retracts this recognition in 2006.[13]

In 2000 the first complete version of Counter Strike is released after Valve cooperation hires modders Jess Cliffe and Minh Le to turn their betas into a full experience.[11][14]

In 2003 the first version of Defense of the Ancients is released as a Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne mod.[15]



Major Competitions


The first DOTA 2 international was held in 2011.[16] Also in 2011 the first League of Legends championship hosted a $100,000 prize and attracted 1.69 million viewers.[17]

American Esports


In 2013 the United States government recognizes Esports as a sport.[18][19] This allowed foreign players to obtain professional P-1 visas visit the United States of America to attend competitions.[20][21] In 2019 Pennsylvania lawmakers declare February to be Esports month,[22] The "PA Cup" statewide eSports tournament is announced shortly afterwards.[23] In November 2018 the US Army Esports team is created.[24][25]



Collegiate Esports

The Esports Arena at Arcadia University in May 2020.

On June 10th, 2020 the Mid-American Conference for Collegiate Athletics creates the independent Esports Collegiate Conference.[26]

Esports during COVID-19


The initial closure of in person sporting events drew many people to esports during the COVID-19 pandemic.[27] Despite this, the cancelation of in person events affected many esports organizations, which then accepted out PPP relief loans.[28]

On November 19th, 2020 The Big House 10 Super Smash Brothers tournament was canceled after Nintendo sent the tournament organizers a cease and disist notice for using netcode needed to make the tournament an online, socially distanced experience.[29] An official Splatoon 2 tournament was canceled following many gamers using tags which supported the Smash Bros community, with an unofficial event The Squid House taking it's place.[30][31]

2020 Olympics


Beginning on May 13th, 2021 the International Olympic Committee hosted their first esports event, the Olympic Virtual Series, focusing on games based on real life sports.[32][33][34]

The first virtual motorsport event was won by Valerio Gallo who represented Italy, with Mikail Hizal of German taking second, and Baptiste Beauvois of France taking third.[35]


  1. Farokhmanesh, Megan (20 October 2012). "First game tournament, ‘Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics,’ held 40 years ago" (in en). Polygon. https://www.polygon.com/2012/10/20/3529662/first-game-tournament-intergalactic-spacewar-olympics-held-40-years. Retrieved 10 November 2020. 
  2. "VIDEO GAMES STAR WAR (Published 1981)". The New York Times. 25 October 1981. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  3. Fern, Ricky; Conceição, es da (16 May 2015). "Looking back at the 1990 Nintendo World Championships". Goomba Stomp. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  4. Pitcher, Jenna (5 February 2014). "Nintendo World Championships cartridge sells for $100K on eBay". Polygon. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  5. Leone, Matt (23 November 2020). "Street Fighter Alpha: An oral history". Polygon.
  6. February 2008, David Houghton 14. "Why Street Fighter is still the most important fighting game series around". gamesradar.
  7. Statt, Nick (31 March 2020). "QuakeCon canceled for the first time in 25-year-history over coronavirus". The Verge.
  8. Wilde, Tyler (24 June 2016). "How WASD became the standard PC control scheme". PC Gamer.
  9. Edwards, Phil (18 October 2018). "Why gamers use WASD to move". Vox. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  10. "StarCraft: Remastered hasn't changed how Korea feels about StarCraft".
  11. a b c d Yu, Haiqing (2018). "Game On: The Rise of the eSports Middle Kingdom[1]". Media Industries Journal. doi:10.3998/mij.15031809.0005.106. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  12. Zhang, Chenglu (13 February 2019). "The Chinese government recognizes esports as a profession". Esports Insider. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  13. "Gamma Law Why Isn't Russia an Esports Superpower?". Gamma Law. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  14. "The history of Counter-Strike". Red Bull. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  15. "Gamasutra - Features - Postmortem: Defense of the Ancients". web.archive.org. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  16. "Announcing "The International"} Dota 2". Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  17. "League of Legends championship draws nearly 1.7 million viewers". Engadget. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  18. Tassi, Paul. "The U.S. Now Recognizes eSports Players As Professional Athletes". Forbes. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  19. Ligman, Kris. "U.S. recognizes eSports players as professional athletes". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  20. "US Government Recognizes League of Legends' LSC as Sport - IGN". Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  21. "Score! Professional video gamers awarded athletic visas". NBC News. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  22. Fogel, Stefanie (5 February 2019). "PA Lawmakers Debate Video Game 'Sin Tax' During State's Esports Month". Variety. Retrieved 9 December 2020. {{cite web}}: Missing |author1= (help)
  23. "Harrisburg University announces statewide esports tournament on Pa.'s first annual Esports Day". pennlive. 6 February 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  24. "The U.S. Army Turns to Esports as It Fails to Meet Its Recruitment Targets - IGN" (in en). https://www.ign.com/articles/2018/11/15/the-us-army-turns-to-esports-as-it-fails-to-meet-its-recruitment-targets. 
  25. "US Army launching esports team as recruiting effort" (in en). GamesIndustry.biz. https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-11-14-us-army-launching-esports-team-as-recruiting-effort. 
  26. "MAC Membership Unveils Esports Venture". getsomemaction.com. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  27. "COVID-19 and the Rise of Esports". University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
  28. "Why Professional Gamers Are Getting Loans From the Government". www.vice.com. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  29. Good, Owen S. (19 November 2020). "Smash Bros. tournament The Big House 10 canceled over netcode". Polygon.
  30. Hernandez, Patricia (7 December 2020). "Fans say Nintendo canceled tourney over Smash Bros. protest". Polygon. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  31. "Smash Bros, Splatoon and Other Fan Communities Clash With Nintendo - IGN" (in en). https://www.ign.com/articles/nintendo-smash-bros-splatoon-etika-joy-cons-communities-freemelee-freesplatoon. 
  32. Horiuchi, Junko (28 June 2021). "IOC weighs addition of pandemic-boosted virtual sports to Olympics". The Japan Times. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2021/06/28/olympics/ioc-esports-future-games/. 
  33. Peters, Jay (2 June 2021). "The Olympics’ vision of gaming looks very different from the biggest esports" (in en). The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/2/22464255/olympic-virtual-series-esports-most-popular-games. 
  34. Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympic games were held in 2021.
  35. Evans, Andrew (23 June 2021). "Valerio Gallo Wins Gran Turismo Olympic Virtual Series". GTPlanet. https://www.gtplanet.net/valerio-gallo-wins-olympic-20210623/. 

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