Defending esports

To most of us, this past weekend was Halloween, but to a sizeable part of the population, it was also the final game of the League of Legends World Championship, held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena located in Berlin, Germany, where the two remaining teams play for the grand prize of $1 million USD.

I am not at all ashamed of enjoying playing the game and being a part of the esports community, however, when I mentioned this hobby of mine to one of my coworker, the individual’s response was, I paraphrase: “Will, my respect for you has just dropped so low.”

This is not the first time someone has shared their negative view of esports to me, nor will it be the last, but coming from someone that I work along side with, it was a bit of a shock.

Before we move on, I want to clarify that I’m not trying to convince you that esports should be considered an official sport.

I just simply want to eliminate, or even just soften, society’s adverse prejudice towards the esports community — specifically the League of Legends community.

What I don’t understand is what makes enjoying playing a video game so “nerdy” as I’ve been told over and over again, by friends as well as strangers.

Take football, or any other sports fans for example. They are a group of people that show excitement for the sport by watching it religiously on TV and supporting their favourite teams — all of which are socially accepted and considered a normal thing to enjoy.

When a group shows the same amount of passion for a video game, they are immediately treated like outcasts and geeks.

A large majority of the public have this preconceived notion that League of Legends players are these scrawny 20-year olds with neckbeards who do nothing except play League of Legends in their basement all day and night.

While that’s completely unrepresentative of the gaming community, why is it so bad that people are passionate about League of Legends?

Before an athlete becomes professional, they would typically commit all their time into training and practicing for their respective sport in order to get better, and to eventually play professionally.

It’s no different for a competitive video game such as League of Legends, where the prize pool for this year’s World Championships was over $2 million USD.

If you think that’s a lot of money for a video game, the prize pool for a similar game, DOTA 2, was just under $18.5 million USD.

So will society’s narrow-mindedness towards League of Legends fade away as esports is more integrated into our culture?

Especially in a world where the growth and development of technology is crucial, why is it still so hard for people to accept a new possible career that is centered around it?

Going beyond just League of Legends or esports, regardless of whether something is new and different, or if it’s old and lame, isn’t it common courtesy to keep judgment to ourselves?

Maybe, one day, League of Legends will become something of a norm within Western culture.

But until then, there will still be new games that are criticized.

We will probably never fully eliminate prejudice towards esports in our culture, but we can at least try and tone it down on an individual level.

So please keep your judgements to yourself, and let League of Legends players game in peace. Maybe it’ll make the world a less toxic place.

(Will will fill the rest.)

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