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Esports (pronounced "e-sports") is a general term used to describe video game competitions. Much like athletic sporting events, Eports games are often played before live audiences and may be broadcast over the Internet as well.

Esports dates back to the 1980s when gaming tournaments took place in arcades. In the 1990s, console gaming became more popular and video game competitions started being held in auditoriums and other large arenas. In the 2000s, as computing gaming grew in popularity, PC esports became more popular as well. Over the past several years, the Internet has fostered a new era in esports, as players are now able to compete in gaming competitions remotely.

An esports match is performed much like an athletic sporting event. Players must follow certain rules and a referee officiates the game. Sportscasters typically commentate the game, explaining what is happening in real-time. While esports games may be narrated by a single commentator, most large esports events are presented by two or more commentators at once.

The rise of esports has produced a large number of professional video gamer players (or "pro gamers"). These players compete regularly in professional tournaments with cash prizes. Esports tournaments are typically sponsored by technology companies, but may also generate revenue through selling live tickets and online viewing subscriptions.

Esports encompasses a wide range of video game genres. Popular real-time strategy (RTS) games include StarCraft 2, Dota, and League of Legends. Common first-person shooters include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Half Life: Counter-Strike. Additionally, there are a few console games that are played in esports competitions, including Guitar Hero, Halo 3, and Super Street Fighter IV.

Updated: August 10, 2012

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