What is eSport?

eSports is the direct competition between human players using appropriate video and computer games on different devices and on digital platforms under defined rules. The comparison of sporting performance in eSports is determined by the interaction of a purposeful operation of the input devices in direct response to the gameplay shown while tactical mastery of the overall gameplay. Reference object of the sport activity are video games, which meet the requirements for the achievement of performance in their structure and their mode of operation, do not leave the play success predominantly to the coincidence and offer a reproducible play frame for the comparison of the achievement between the players.

In its Articles of Association of 26 November 2017, our guide has defined eSport as follows:

“ESport is the sports-competitive playing of video or computer games, especially on computers and consoles, according to established rules.”

Against this background, the decision of the general meeting is to be understood as a concretization of the statutory definition. The distinction between gaming and eSport is fundamental: eSport is a dedicated part of the gaming that operates under special conditions. The use of video games for a sporty performance comparison determines the core content of eSports and thus forms its own system in the leisure, recreational and cultural area of gaming.

Explanations of the eSport term

On this basis, as an association, we build our thoughts on eSport. The eSports games currently relevant for the European area (also: “titles” or “disciplines”) are League Of Legends (strategy), DOTA 2 (strategy), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (tactical shooter), StarCraft II ( Strategy), FIFA (sports game) as the biggest title. These include Overwatch (tactical shooter), Heroes Of The Storm (strategy), NBA2KX (sports game), Rocket League (sports game), Call Of Duty (shooter) and a variety of other games.

The list shows that eSport has diversified enormously over the last few years and is constantly changing. For all ages and interests there is a balanced range of games that can be played in the competition. The eSports disciplines differ considerably in their basic game mechanics: between strategy games (RTS – Real Time Strategy, MOBA – multiplayer online battle arena) and first person shooters (FPS) are also found Sports and racing games as well as simulations (like SimRacing). A relatively new development is Battle Royale shooters still seeking their place in the eSport competitive system. From the scope of the enumeration follows: a professional discussion about eSport can rarely be led by the example of only one specific game or a single sub-discipline.

In particular, before the expected legal and regulatory discussions concerning the interpretation of the eSport term, the core elements of a practice-oriented definition based on the eSport term of the ESBD must be presented:

First of all, it is necessary to make a distinction between gaming (the free-time use of video games, with and without multiplayer function), competitive gaming (the recreational and recreation-oriented multiplayer competition) and eSport (the sporting use of video games). eSport can be considered as gaming and competitive gaming in part, but separates itself as a sport from both superordinate areas by means of separate structural features.

eSport requires a competition that is characterized by the simultaneity of the competition – people play against people. The distinction is the sports-competitive eSport therefore generally of the human game against computer programs (so-called bots) and the time-lag performance comparison (for example, comparison of points achieved or a high score on a leaderboard). However, both elements can serve as training or qualification methods. To further delineate is eSport of purely cooperative games in which the players work together to achieve a program-controlled game goal together.

Especially against the background of the sport concept of organized sport, the interpretation of the element of the sports competition requires the exact determination of the athletic performance. These are three basic elements that constitute a classification as a sporting act, and with which the players compete in the competition: a) the motor performance of the players on the input device, b) in response to the screen contents at the same time, c) mental mastery of the gameplay.

The physical level is characterized in particular by extraordinary precision in the coordinated operation of the input device in a mostly high frequency. It is possible to observe a sequence of movements that goes far beyond the usual and everyday keyboard or controller movements. The result is an own motor activity with no purpose other than the mastery of the game, which springs from the personal skills and is designed significantly. eSport is therefore to be understood as a precision sport.

The mental and social level demands tactical thinking and precise timing under high pressure of decision-making, as well as communicative abilities and precise teamwork for team eSport titles. The various eSport titles set different priorities in the constellation of athletic performance determination – whether an activity is still to be understood as eSport results from the concrete weighing of the performance criteria.

The sports competition must also take place under defined rules. Crucial here are the rules of organized eSports, which give the athletic performance comparison an orderly framework. For athletes, promotion and retirement in the competition process must be comprehensible and must be designed in accordance with the principle of fairness and equal opportunities. Further tasks of the regulatory systems are the prevention and sanctioning of violations of the integrity of the competition (cheating, doping, illegal agreements and match fixing).

The video and computer game is an object of sportive action. It therefore needs a suitable game programming that meets the requirements for measurement and assessment of athletic performance and is suitable for a design as a sports competition. The game must allow the achievement of the game goal between at least two opposing athletes and thereby meet the consideration of on the one hand motor and on the other hand mental and social control of the game. Programmed random factors in the game must not play a play-crucial role by themselves, but must give both parties the equal opportunity to use them for the development of an advantage. The game structure must have a reproducible frame, which allows comparability over several rounds of play and competition levels. Last but not least, the game must have a largely bug-free structure and be ensured in the case of known errors by the responsible parties in sufficient time for rectification.

The last question is: is it a kind of sport or several sports? From our point of view eSport is a generic term for a sport that has an internal variety through different disciplines in the form of different video game products, this variety is in constant change and does not create its own sub-sports.