I know what eSports are but I don’t fully understand all of the nuances. I’ve always been a big fan of games, but only classical games like chess and poker. I’ve only ever played video games a handful of times – the original Doom many years ago, StarCraft when it was first released, and a couple of others. I get bored with video games quite quickly, probably because I’m not very good at them.
I have a good friend, KL, who lives and breathes video games. He’s a very senior guy at Microsoft’s Xbox. I was chatting with him recently and my first question was related to the similarities between watching games like baseball and football, and watching experts play video games. KL explained to me that even though there are thousands of video games, only a few are used for eSports and that they’re popular games played by millions of people. OK, that makes sense to me.
KL also explained to me that most of the video games used in eSports require roughly equal amounts of strategy and physical skill. This, in principle, makes the idea of watching eSports more interesting and plausible.
Perhaps the idea is similar to most other sports. People who play a sport or game (or used to play when they were young) like to watch professionals and experts play those games. Men that grew up playing ice hockey (or whatever) like to watch professional ice hockey, but people who didn’t play ice hockey (or whatever) as young men likely have limited interest.
This could explain why eSports could become wildly popular. It could also explain why the abomination that’s women’s pro basketball has no chance of becoming popular among normal women. But I still have a lot of questions in my mind. Professional sports is monetized by TV advertising, which means the audience has to have money and be inclined to buy what is being advertised (typically things like beer, automobiles, etc.) It’s not clear to me what an eSports audience can support in terms of monetization.
Well, what’s the connection between eSports and machine learning? I’m not 100% sure. Machine learning is all about prediction, and sports prediction is useful if there is wagering involved. I do know there is intense activity in state governments surrounding efforts to create all kinds of new wagering scenarios for professional sports. If eSports gains traction, then it’s possible that machine learning can be applied in much the same way that it can be applied to traditional sports wagering.
In the end, everything is about economics and money. But not really. In the end, money is all about what good it can do for others.