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Esports Are Becoming a Global Phenomenon, But Some Countries are More Receptive Than Others

From superstars to students, esports are taking over the world.

While it’s undeniable that esports have become a global phenomenon, they are by no means equally popular around the world. While in some places esports are considered as popular a hobby as football, they are also still criticized as a waste of time in other regions.

With the public opinion so divided across the globe, it’s quite remarkable that the esports industry still managed to grow as quickly as it has.

Esports in Korea

Perhaps the best example that shows the impact esports can have on culture is South Korea. For years, the country has been producing a large volume of incredibly talented esports players. As many other countries do, South Korea has a hyper-competitive academic world, where students are under extremely high pressure to perform – video games offer an easy escape from that.

In just a few short years, gaming and esports went from being a niche hobby to becoming an acceptable line of study in schools and universities. There is also widespread legal and parental support for esports. Schools in the country already offer courses and curriculum in and around the world of esports.

These curriculums include things like watching recordings of games, writing analyses of matches and more – it’s less about playing the games, and more about learning about the esports industry. Along with that, game strategies, ethics and psychology are taught by industry professionals, often with esports experience of their own.

Video game fans aren’t hard to find either – though there are several esports titles that are popular with South Korean audiences, none are as popular as Starcraft 2. The game has sold over 4.5 million copies in the country alone, and is even considered its national sport by many.

Esports in Germany

In contrast to the wide success that esports have found in South Korea, German audiences are less receptive. While esports is a rapidly growing hobby, there is almost no support from official sources. German Olympic officials have outright rejected any support for esports as Olympic disciplines, and controversial claims about the legitimacy of esports, and whether they even deserve to have “sport” in the name from German politicians have sparked a fair bit of backlash over the last years.

The DOSB (German Olympic Sports Federation) is also actively opposing any sort of legal recognition of esports, and, in fact, exclusively refers to it as “eGaming” in an attempt to take away from its general legitimacy.

The strong difference between Germany’s and Korea’s view of esports is due to a variety of social and cultural factors, and it really shows that despite the success the esports industry has had, there is still a ways to go.

Esports: A Global Phenomenon

While Korea and Germany are two fairly extreme examples, variations of both attitudes can be found in countries around the globe. In wide areas of Asia, such as China, India and Japan, esports are extremely popular. They have even found their way into some Olympic events there.

Across the pond, in the Americas, a similar picture paints itself – esports are finding their way into schools and colleges, and are becoming a more and more mainstream hobby. In Europe and Africa, things are going much slower. While esports are popular, they are by no means as popular, and not nearly as well-accepted by the general public. Often, prejudices against both esports and video games in general can still be found – however, things are changing.

There are some 86 million esports fans in Europe alone, and that number is only rising. Africa is much more of an untapped market. Here, few if any game publishers encourage active followings and events, leaving the continent trailing behind others in terms of viewer, player and fan numbers.

Individual events and small game series have, however started making their way there as well, suggesting that Africa may still be due its big break into esports – and, of course, that the esports industry as a whole is still far from peaking.

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