Gaming vs Real Life
Would a gamer ever stand a chance on a real-life racing track against a professional driver?
The thought of somebody more used to a gaming controller outpacing a driver used to manoeuvring hairpins seems unbelievable. But that’s exactly what happened when 23-year-old gamer Enzo Bonito beat Lucas di Grassi, a Formula E and ex-Formula 1 driver, on a winding race track in Mexico earlier this year.
Bonito’s triumph came in The Race of Champions, an event stretching back 30 years that pits the best drivers of different motoring disciplines against one another. But it’s only since last year that ‘virtual’ racers have been allowed to enter, and Bonito’s success this year has certainly helped further the esports argument. While real life racers often train for decades on the track to perfect their passion, the attention to detail in some of today’s high-end racing simulators is not to be sniffed at. Virtual motorsports players like Bonito must contend with elements like tire wear, suspension design and steering, much like their more recognised counterparts on the tarmac.
On race day, Bonito was also used to the steering wheels and pedals of a real car, as that’s what he uses while gaming. No joypads here. But rising virtual standards and results like this should come as no surprise, especially when you consider the prizes at stake for the world’s best esports players.
The top esports player in 2018, Kuro Takhasomi, earned in excess of $4m last year, putting him ahead of Formula 1 drivers like Sergio Perez ($3.5m) and Charles Leclerc ($3.5m). And though Lewis Hamilton pocketed a cool $57m last year, it’s widely expected that esports prize pots will continue to rise as interest in the concept grows. For example, in March, Sky Sports broadcast the newly inaugurated ePL.
The competition is a collaboration between the Premier League and game developer Electronic Arts that offers UK gamers the chance to represent their football team in competitive gaming. Each club was represented by players for the Xbox and Playstation versions of the popular FIFA football game, and Liverpool’s ‘Tekkz’ was crowned the ultimate champion of the tournament. The ePL is expected to return for a second edition later this year, while in 2019 there are more opportunities than ever for gamers to compete for prize money, with the 2019 edition of The International offering players a prize pool of more than $25m. The tournament is hosted by game developer Valve and players compete in online battle arena game Dota 2.
With so many opportunities to earn money, and with commercial and public backing for esports growing exponentially, its perhaps no surprise that the video game industry, as a whole, continues to grow. In the UK alone it has an estimated value of £2.5bn, while the latest research conducted by TeamSport found that the average British adult spends 3.5 hours a week gaming.
Video games also have a huge appeal to younger audiences and the data suggests that just under half of children (45.6%) spend between four and ten hours a week gaming. More than 1 in 20 parents (6.6%) told us their child spends more than 20 hours a week gaming, although a similar amount (6.5%) say they restrict usage to less than an hour over the same period. Adventure games are the most popular with kids. More than one in five (21.6%) say it’s the type of game they like to play the most, followed by football games, like FIFA (17.8%), and MMO (massive multiplayer online) games (10.8%). Nearly half of parents (47.6%) say they are happy with the amount of time their child plays games, because they monitor it, while one in five (20.9%) say they ensure their child gets a good balance of physical activity and gaming. Almost a quarter (24.4%) say they don’t monitor their child’s gaming, while one in five (20.7%) say they actively try to reduce the time they spend playing.
Meanwhile, more than one in eight (12.9%) parents say they feel their child doesn’t do other physical activities due to video games or are concerned that gaming prevents them from having real life experiences. But perhaps Enzo Benito’s success on the track, thanks to his years of gaming, and the money many of the world’s top esports players earn, provides hope to those parents that the time their kids spent in front of a screen may not be in vain.