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JUST A GAME? The blurred lines of reality in eSports

Over the weekend, the soon to be billion dollar eSports industry suffered it’s first major tragedy when a man competing in a Jacksonville Madden Tournament, opened fired on fellow gamers after a defeat, killing two and injuring ten.

Madden football is one of the most popular video games of all time. It’s an annual release, dating back to 1988 and features NFL teams and real NFL players. Players often compete in local tournaments in hopes of moving on and ultimately competing for a cash prize of $200,000 in the annual Madden Bowl.

This horrific incident begs us to answer the question, is it “just a game” anymore?

As the gaming industry continues to grow, the line between the virtual world and real life is blurred. Major League Baseball teams are banning the wildly popular game Fortnite because their athletes are staying up all night playing and missing their games. Yes, you read that right. Pro athletes Fortnite gaming addictions are affecting their real-life athletic performance.

Fortnite, a game that’s free to play and available on all gaming consoles, computers, and phones, is a team-based survival game featuring colorful cartoon characters in crazy costumes and funny victory dances. It has become the world’s most watched game and averages billions of views a month on YouTube alone.

The University of Michigan, one of the elite powerhouse football programs in the country, use Fortnite graphics to lure in top recruits on recruiting trips. Another university in Ohio is offering scholarships to the best Fortnite players to join its varsity eSports team. Parents are now paying tutors to teach their kids how to play. Yes, it’s getting THAT serious.

Everywhere you look, competitive gaming is merging with real life. As games continue to become more accessible, the learning curve continues to decrease, and corporate partners flood to popular games to advertise their products, how long will it be before eSports becomes the world’s most popular sport?

Grab a controller, crank up that 4k TV, and download a game. Who knows, you might become the LeBron James of this booming industry.

Mindset Development Author & Speaker moonlighting as a Triathlete. Oh yeah, I also have a slight video game addiction.