ESPN The Magazine debuts its “eSports Issue,” hitting newsstands Friday. Senior editor Megan Greenwell provides some background on why The Magazine is exploring eSports, or competitive tournaments of video games, as Dictionary.com defines it.
Why is The Mag dedicating an entire issue to eSports?
For the first time in generations, we’re witnessing the birth of a new major sport, and it’s happening with unprecedented speed. eSports is way past cult status at this point — if it’s not already the dominant cultural force of the moment, it’s pretty close to it. But there’s this weird divide that doesn’t exist in any other kind of sport or culture: The people who aren’t entirely immersed in that world have almost no idea that it exists. And although there’s been some media coverage of eSports over the past year or two, nothing went as deep as we knew we could go in a full issue. Once we saw the data — that the industry is bigger than Hollywood, that there are $5 million prizes and college scholarships and athletic visas on the line — we knew this was a world that demanded a Mag treatment.
How do you feel the eSports/gaming world will respond?
My goal all along has been to produce an issue that would be compelling both to a general audience who doesn’t know anything about gaming, and to hardcore gamers… and I think we pulled it off. The Faker story, for example, is a great read even if you have never heard his name — but if you have, you will appreciate it for being the first English-language profile of one of the most fascinating characters in the eSports world. [Deputy editor, Voices at Fusion] Latoya Peterson’s essay about why harassment won’t drive her out of gaming is a useful antidote to much of the Gamergate coverage over the past year. And whether you’re an NFL fan, an eSports fan and/or just someone who appreciates the one-of-a-kind personality of [NFL star and Mag cover model] Marshawn Lynch, seeing the behind-the-scenes process of him creating a “Call of Duty” character is bound to be a fun read.