With the popularity of Fortnite, the increased notoriety of gamers like Ninja and brand supported competitions like the NBA 2K League, eSports is steadily changing into a mainstream industry.
According to Forbes, Newzoos annual report predicts in 2018 that the competitive gaming industry will hit $905 million in revenue. This is a 38% increase from 2017s $655 million. Based on the trajectory, this soon-to-be billion dollar industry could reach $1.65b by 2021. The more profitable this industry becomes, the more opportunities there are for minority kids to be officially sponsored gamers complete with the same brand recognition comparable to an NFL or NBA player.
However, one potential concern that may arise with an (arguably) easily accessible sport, is that wealth and accessibility might affect future competition. This has happened already in the US with its relationship to soccer, a sport that is played by both the poor and rich all over the world.
My family would not have been able to afford to put me in soccer if I was a young kid today” – @hopesolo #HS18 https://t.co/vR6sV1qLDA
On a #HashtagSports panel, World Cup champion Hope Solo discussed how soccer became too expensive for many Hispanics, African Americans and low-income families in the United States. This economic disparity narrowed opportunities for minorities, decreasing the talent pool for teams and lowering the overall competition level. Hopefully, this wont be the same scenario for video gaming and its eSports future.
So, what will eSports leagues, sponsors, and competitions do to prevent such an unfairness in the United States? NBA 2K Leagues Managing Director Brendan Donohue believes having diverse player narratives can not only present different backgrounds but also show different paths for aspiring players.
In year one we are trying to run a league, trying to get our 17 teams up and running, and making sure they are making an impact, Donohue said, I actually think the best way we can do that is to tell the stories of current players we have. Show the path, how many of them came from situations where it was tough and one of the ways theyve actually thrived in life is by taking the skill they have and significant skill of being one of the top 100 people in the world at something.
These narratives will present different financial, ethnic and regional backgrounds in both the NBA 2K League and eSports. As the years go by, the industry’s revenue will go up, popularity will increase and it will become easier for additional perspectives to be presented. A step the NBA 2K League would like to take further, even years later. I think its going to be easier to do that in years coming up because we will have more and more stories to tell of these players who are in pretty tough situations.
With more money comes more resources that will be provided, no matter what economic background the players have. Until then, let’s herald the opportunities that eSports and the NBA 2K League are giving to minorities where other sports are failing.
Just had the time of my life! Went and hung out with the kids at the Boys & Girls club of Greater Dallas and it was Amazing! I just wanted to say thanks again for having me @bgcdallas and shoutout to all the kids seriously. Y’all are the True MVPS!