How Classic Video and Arcade Games Created the Culture That Has Culminated in the Rise of eSports

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How Classic Video and Arcade Games Created the Culture That Has Culminated in the Rise of eSports

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You have come to the right place to explore esports, video games, and their history. First, let us start by mentioning that video games wouldn’t be popular today without the success of arcade games in the 1970s. We also must mention that arcade gaming is not just defined by the style of the available titles.

Individuals who enjoy arcade games love challenging other players as this helps them identify the player who can set a high score on a designated title. Consequently, the highly competitive nature of esports games is the reason these offerings are increasingly becoming popular across the globe.

Without arcade games, esports and other video games wouldn’t be as competitive as they are today. Below are some of the ways in which arcade games have played a significant role in making esports a force to reckon with in the entertainment scene.

Early Days

Are you wondering how esports—a multibillion-dollar industry—has its foundation in arcade gaming? As earlier hinted, video games are designed to allow players to compete against each other. Likewise, esports games are created to allow players to enjoy the thrill that comes with winning.

The earliest arcade game was a Tennis match that could be played by two opponents, and it was designed by William Higinbotham. The 1958-designed game was a predecessor to Pong—a game that was so popular that players had to wait in queue for a chance to play against other opponents. Many people don’t know this but Higinbotham designed the popular two-player tennis match after realising that most science exhibits at the time didn’t have a means of interaction.

2 years after the design and release of William Higinbotham’s Tennis, a Pentagon funded game—Spacewar—came into existence. The 1960-released video game became so popular on university campuses, and this led to its banning during business hours. Few people know that Spacewar was the inspiration behind the development of Atari—a pioneer in the video game scene.

The Dawn of eSports

Did you know that the first video game tournament winner was a woman? Rebecca Ann Heineman took part in Atari’s 1980 National Space Invaders Competition in Los Angeles thinking that she couldn’t be ranked among the top 100, only to emerge as the best player. It is worth noting that Heineman also won the Space Invaders Competition in New York. It is these competitions that first revealed the great potential of competitive video gaming.

The launch of the TV Show: Starcade also highlighted the potential of competitive video games. The show was first aired in 1981, and it featured gamers of different levels of experience battling each other across popular and new arcade titles.

Initially, keeping track of high scores was a mean feat considering the many titles and numerous high scores. Fortunately, a firm by the name Twin Galaxies had an ingenious solution—visit game arcades across the US and record the high scores across popular games. Now, players could rank themselves and see how good they were at different arcade titles.

eSports Is Big Business

Esports titles and competitions are increasingly becoming popular in online gambling circles. Nevertheless, these games are relatively new, and this is the reason you will be cut some slack for not knowing what esports stand for.

Most first-time esports players see esports as an online gaming format that allows the best gamers from around the world compete for cash prizes and other rewards. For instance, the Dota 2 international tournament that took place in 2021 had a lucrative prize pool worth $24 million. The esports competition won the attention of die-hard esports fans from around the globe.

Similarly, top brands like Audi and Betway didn’t want to miss out on the globally viewed tournament, and this explains why the brands sponsored teams Astralis and Ninjas in Pyjamas, respectively.

These two teams are known in the esports scene for their achievements in CS: GO. However, note that they also take part in other games. Besides Audi and Betway, another famous esports sponsor is Gillette, and it has sponsored competitions such as last year’s League of Legends tournament that happened in Poland. As you can see, esports is attracting even brands that are not in the tech space, and this demonstrates the sport’s popularity.

Important Dates in the History of eSports

Exploring the history of arcade gaming reveals that numerous developments in the sport’s history have laid a foundation for esports as we now know it. Competitive gaming is expected to take the world by storm thanks to affordable internet access and developments in streaming technology. As we wait for the esports gaming scene to grow in strength each year, it is important to remember the vital role played by arcade gaming in the development of esports. Here are some of the most important dates in the history of esports.


The first video game competition took place in 1972. The competition was dubbed the “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics” and it attracted several elite players who were competing to win a 1-year Rolling Stone Magazine subscription. The competition took place at Stanford University. Meanwhile, the game was Spacewar—a 1962-released game.


Most gamers don’t know that South Korea was the first country to build a complex network of broadband internet while creating its LAN gaming centres. Next, the country established the Korean Esports organisation, with the country’s Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism coining the term esports.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive became the most popular FPS (First Person Shooter) game in FPS game history—a record the title still holds today. Numerous CS: GO spin-offs have been released throughout the years, and this doesn’t come as a surprise since the title has the 2nd largest prize pool in esports history. In fact, the game is so big that it now has a whole ecosystem that includes CSGO specific gambling sites and even skin trading sites, which acts as an almost independent CSGO stock market.

2020 saw 14,000 professional players take part in over 5800 CS: GO tournaments. This year, gamers are expecting the 2022 CS: GO PGL Major that will take Place in Antwerp. What’s more, the tournament will have a $1 million prize pool.


The world of esports woke up to a pleasing surprise when the Fortnite World Cup prize pool reached $100 million. What’s more, the competition attracted over 2 million spectators from across the globe. The 2019 Dota 2 tournament also broke the internet when its prize pool surpassed the $34 million mark.


Expect to see bigger esports tournaments regularly thanks to esports Arena’s expansion efforts that has seen the esports brand set up shop in over 16 Walmart outlets across the United States. Players can enjoy their favourite esports games on these platforms. Moreover, esports fans can buy esports gear or take part in competitive tournaments while playing in these locations.

Head of Content, reality TV watcher and lover of cookies.