Diving Deeper into eSports: Why Do People Play Video Games?

Odds are, you’ve probably heard about eSports by now. Video games are becoming as big as traditional sports, and whether you are for or against it, that’s the future that’s coming.

Here are some of the eye-catching statistics you might have seen around:
• Global eSports revenue is projected to hit $1.1 billion in 2019, up 27% since last year.
• Esports will be featured in the 2022 Asian Games.
• The 2018 Olympic Summit encouraged “accelerated cooperation” for eSports implementation for Olympics 2024.
• In July 2019, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf won 3 million dollars for winning first place at the Fortnite World Cup, an invitational tournament for 100 players in New York City, with the whole season’s prize pool being 100 million dollars.
• League of Legends World Championships in 2018 got 100 million unique viewers for the finals, which is only 3 million under the unique viewership numbers from the Super Bowl during the same year.

As a member of the eSports community, I think it’s great that the news is spreading rapidly. That being said, large numbers and big percentages aren’t enough to paint the whole picture. People went from saying “I don’t get eSports” to “Woah! That’s a lot of money. I still don’t get eSports.” People who have negative perceptions of video games still have those perceptions, and if anything, are now just more confused than ever.

So what do most of these eSports articles geared towards educating the general public lack? When it comes to the statistics provided, the data makes it difficult to empathize for the people the stats are trying to represent. When we talk about eSports as this one big entity, we forget that it is made up of hundreds of millions of individuals, each one with their own unique needs, wants, and desires, as any other human being would have. And for eSports fans, they’ve found a way to satisfy those needs, wants, and desires: through video games. It’s easy to get lost in this huge phenomenon with every major company trying to get a slice of the pie, but to truly understand the oil that makes the gears turn in eSports, I believe we have to get micro instead of macro. We have to bring it back to the individual and ask: Why do people like video games? If we answer this, we’ll have a better understanding of why this industry is growing so fast in the first place.

To me, there is no better place to start to show the love for a game than the Fighting Game community (FGC for short). Starting from arcades in the early 1990s, the FGC were doing tournaments the way they’re run now in mainstream eSports way before all the money and fame came in. They would drive across the country just to have their hometown best players fight each other. Being a fighting game player became a lifestyle in itself. Many players didn’t have the income to travel far for tournaments, but would do what they could to get there, whether it be questionably-safe carpools or secretly crashing in each other’s motel rooms.

It becomes pretty apparent that there is more reason to playing video games than money and fame when looking at the FGC. There must be something within these games that makes players feel the need to carry old heavy televisions for miles in horrid weather just to go play a couple of casual matches with someone.

Before I describe what makes these players love their fighting games, I should share what makes me qualified to speak on their behalf. I have been involved in the Super Smash Bros. Melee competitive community for about 6 years, a fighting game which is regarded to have one of the most die-hard grassroots fanbases you can get in eSports. When I mentioned people lugging TVs around, I have been that guy hundreds of times by now. I started the Smash eSports club at Skidmore College, holding weekly tournaments as well as bigger-sized tournaments every semester for 3 years. I am now currently a Tournament Organizer for a prestige Smash Melee tournament series in Chinatown, NY every Wednesday.

Many within the FGC describe fighting games as “high-speed chess”. Others relate it to sports like fencing or boxing (setting aside the physical differences obviously). Your character has a certain set of moves, and so does your opponent, similar to how you as a chess player would have a set of moves connected to all of your pieces. In chess, moves get better or worse relative to the positioning of other pieces on the board. In fighting games, your moves get better or worse relative to where you and your opponent are positioned on the screen, and whether or not your opponent is actionable. This is similar to how a boxer might be committed to throwing a punch out so he isn’t actionable to do anything else at that time, creating the perfect opportunity for the opposing boxer to counter-hit. Fighting games have a similar amount of moves at their disposal compared to chess in any given situation, the speed and pacing of boxing, and the strategic decision making of both combined. Hence, high-speed chess.

Now, let’s take a quick glance over the top 5 eSports right now:



Hearthstone is an online card game by Blizzard Entertainment. Simple rules to understand, Hearthstone lets players get immersed in the gameplay quickly. Card games allow players to be creative and expressive with what cards they want to use for their decks, as well as give you the chance to take your time and think out your strategies. It also brings some randomness into the experience, which leads to crazy once-in-a-million situations that get millions of views on Youtube.





Overwatch is a multiplayer first-person shooter by Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard took the video game genre of first-person shooters and brought it to the next level. They gave it flavor with their personal visual aesthetic, along with adding variety to the different styles of play. Multiplayer first-person shooters in general take top-notch precision, team strategy and good communication, and resource management.




DoTA 2
DoTA 2 is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MoBA) game where two teams of five fight each other. Your goal is to defend your base and destroy your opponents. Between the bases are tons of places where you can interact and get benefits to help you capture your opponent base. Once again, you are given a set of tools and moves at your disposal, but it is up to you and your team to execute the right plan to achieve your goal.








League of Legends
League of Legends is another MoBA, with a deep character roster and thousands of item interactions that you can aim to acquire during the game. With so many characters, it is rare for someone not to find a character that fits their liking. Each game can feel so different, between switching up what position you play, the character, team strategy, as well as the interactions with items you can go for.




Fortnite is a Battle Royale game that is currently the most streamed game. Your goal in-game is to be the last one standing after 100 people enter the battlefield at once. You can build giant buildings, fly planes, shoot down opponents; it’s up to you how you’ll use these options to try and win. The game is easily accessible with access to mobile and caters to all age groups with its vibrant aesthetics and in-depth gameplay. With how crazy the game can get, even Fortnite advertises the game as “Anyone can win!”.



So what do all of these video games have in common? Strategy.
But wait, how is that any different from physical sports? Exactly.
Both are just games with tools given to the players with a structure they need to follow in order to reach a goal.

• The love for the competition
• The thrill of improvement
• The rush of victory
• The sense of community and teamwork

All of this is traditional sports. All of this is also eSports. But then, is there even a difference besides the obvious physical requirements? Well, in regular sports, there are rules. In soccer, I am told not to use my hands, so I don’t use them. I technically could physically pick up the ball with my hands, but I don’t because I make the decision to follow that rule. In video games, there are laws. I literally can’t teleport across the screen because the game itself does not give me the ability to do so. When it comes to gameplay in video games, there are no “rules”, only “laws”.

Don’t get me wrong, we play with laws in physical sports as well. Gravity, our own physical limitations, etc. But in a video game, the possibilities of laws created to make the game are literally limitless. This means, a video game can be created to be more challenging than anything the real world could ever offer. And once created, there are no rules.

This makes video games also about discovery. Every competitor wants to be the one to figure out how far we can push the limitations of the game. Every competitor wants to be the one to pull off a combo never seen before so people name the technique after them. The ceiling for skill feels limitless because it literally is limitless, and it makes you want to gun for the top once you get a taste of victory.

Esports is obviously a booming industry right now. I don’t want people to feel like the world of video games is something that’s completely not relatable and foreign. My hope is, with this article, I can help people see that there is a type of game for anyone who loves competition and strategy to enjoy; that the essence of video games isn’t much different from traditional sports. People understand what eSports is; now it’s time to try and help them understand the why.

Written by
Shane Kuo
UX Designer&
eSports Enthusiast


Being Totally Social: 6 Key Learnings from BTS and How to Turn your Brand’s Fans into an ARMY of Advocates

BTS at the MelOn Music Awards

BTS, the mega K-Pop group, has remained on the top of the charts for years. But their success would not be possible without the hard work of their fans who call themselves ARMY. So, what is ARMY? How did they turn a little-known boy band into the international stars of today? And, most importantly, how do you apply their success to making an army of your own?


#1 ARMY stands for Adorable Representative MC for Youth

… and boy, are they an army. They are organized, strategic, and 100% dedicated – everything you want out of a fan. But how did it all begin?

BTS started out without the financial backing of a major label so they turned to social with an underdog’s perseverance. There were few barriers between them and their fans. No one sat on a throne from on high. That quickly created an intimate relationship between fans and the band, something that set them apart from other K-Pop stars. Now, BTS had more followers on Twitter than any other K-Pop group.

Takeaway: Start with Social, End with Social Do not sit up in the tower. Get on the ground. Make connections. That’s how communication works in 2019. Be real. Be a little vulnerable. That’s how you win people over.

BTS in concert at Wembley Stadium

#2 Fans spend hundreds of hours on BTS activities, no joke.

Showing your love for BTS is pretty much free game. BTS encourages fan sites, message boards, #hashtags and any other outlet to show fan love (as long as it doesn’t include the stalking type). Corporate isn’t coming down hard on copyrights or branding, and their encouragement has inspired fans to do incredible outreach. Millions flock to social communities and Facebook alone has hundreds of pages dedicated to the group – all fan-based.

Takeaway: Empower your Fans Don’t be a snob and push away the people that love you the most. Encourage free expression. With the rise of TikTok and other fan-based platforms and activities, you’re not going to see the end of “borrowing” intellectual property so instead of whining and complaining when Jenn from Arkansas lip syncs your song, get ahead of it and join the conversation.

#3 Being a fan is free – sort of

There’s BTS fans and there’s BTS official ARMY. For $30, you can gain official membership where insider perks may be afforded to you; birthday wishes, early access to concerts and other minor but impactful-for-fans benefits. In return, ARMY expects your dedication (put some elbow grease into that streaming), your decorum (behave yourself) and your innovation (get out there and recruit!).

Takeaway: Create Exclusivity Everyone loves to be a part of the club. It’s not a new idea to have official fan membership or offer insider-perks, but just because it’s old doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and relevant. What do you offer your audience for their loyalty? What love do you give back?

BTS ARMY Purple Ocean

#4 ARMY is up on Social – like crazy

It’s not just about Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Though they are internationally known, BTS has a heavy population of their fandom from Asian communities. After all, that’s their hometown territory. So, ignoring the platforms that overlap cultural lines is unthinkable. Kakao Talk, WeChat, and Weibo are just a few platforms putting American platforms to the test with their numbers.

Takeaway: Get on ALL the Platforms In this day and age, not expanding into new platforms will quickly turn you into a dinosaur. Asians and Asian Americans account for the highest rates of buying power and most of that is done on super-app WeChat. Get out there. Expand your tools.

#5 ARMY has Official Missions and Goals

Did we mention that ARMY is dedicated? Because we have to mention it again. Many of these ARMY folks make a mission of getting streaming numbers up. They’ve learned how to hack the system and they capitalize on it. They set their phones, their friends’ phones, their parents’ phones (and laptops, and smart TVs) to stream 24/7. And that’s not all. They communicate to each other what song they want to push, what video needs a lift, what page needs a like, so that efforts are strategic and impactful.

Takeaway: It’s all about Organization Don’t leave the social strategy up to destiny. Your goals should be your audience’s goal and vice versa. Set tasks and goals as a team effort, even down to the most minute details. If ARMY can do it, so can you.

BTS at the 31st Golden Disk Awards

#6 You Can’t Sing Along at Concerts

If you think it’s all ARMY and BTS sits back reaping the benefits without the legwork, you’d be wrong. BTS and their label, Big Hit Entertainment, are all up in everyone’s business making sure that when communication goes out, it goes out the way they want it.

When a South Korean BTS concert commences, singing along is prohibited, as fans and label find it ruins the experience. This is just one of the many branding requirements and expectations Big Hit has put out, communicating directly with its most influential ARMY members and, in turn, those members spread the word and enforce. From banner slogans to pre-concert chants, everything is thoughtfully curated with constant communication with the fans.

Takeaway: Communication is Key but Stand your Ground Don’t just plug and play your messaging. Stay on the pulse of the conversation. Relay to your audience, create trust and transparency. Like any good relationship, people need to feel heard and recognized for being good listeners. Radio silence is unacceptable not to mention dangerous to your brand image. It’s your brand. Take control of it.

If you found this list helpful and insightful, we have plenty more. Look back at our latest industry reports developed by ADMERASIA Intelligence Division (AID) for more information on bettering your brand.

Written By
XiaoHwa Sydney Ng
Digital Strategist&
Social Nerd