eSports vs. Gaming: What is the difference?

Clarifying the gaping differences between Gaming and eSports.

realsport user by admin

The terms “eSports” and “Gaming” have been thrown around more than necessary in the industry recently, especially with brand new eSports teams popping up in what looks to be a record-breaking time frame. It would be fantastic if that were just the case, but more often than not the two terms cross each other and people get confused, causing more tension on the proverbial thread holding a distancing language barrier between people who have no idea what gaming is and people that do.

To understand eSports and what the term refers to we need to understand what ‘Gaming’ is, and once you understand the distinction between the two you will be surprised at how people really do have two different perspectives on the subject. Maybe we can finally stop hearing the dreaded “people get paid to sit on their a**e and play games all day.”

What is Gaming?

Well, it’s gaming…Ok, ok, let me elaborate. ‘Gaming’, as interpreted by Google (thanks Google btw, love ya’ xo) means,




gerund or present participle: gaming

  1. play at games of chance for money.
  2. “a gaming machine”.
  3. play video or computer games.
    • “the next generation of gaming consoles”.
  1. manipulate (a situation), typically in a way that is unfair or unscrupulous.
  2. “it was very easy for a few big companies to game the system”

Confused? I was too, but then realised that our beloved Google doesn’t even have a clear definition of “Gaming”; literally, type it in and that’s what you get. There isn’t a precise history of where the word came from, but it refers to the action of physically playing a video game. Board Games have been a grey area for some time now, but the term only relates to video games.

“But Adel, that makes little sense. My mum plays games on her phone, she isn’t a gamer!”

Well, she is! That is how broad the terms reach is, from the hardcore League of Legends players in professional teams, to the casual player who tries the latest free games from the App store, they are gaming.

Let us recap. “Gaming” means playing games. Got it? Great! Let’s get back on track!

What is eSports?

eSports is shortened from the term “Electronic Sports” and is also known as “competitive (video) gaming, professional (video) gaming, or pro gaming”. These are in the form of competitions held on specific multiplayer online video games that have team based elements, such as DOTA 2 and League Of Legends, or single player based strategy elements such as Hearthstone and Starcraft 2.

2016 has seen some of these games dishing out prize pools from $1 million – $24 million and has inevitably hit mainstream media, but always with a vague undertone resulting in some people associating anything to do with games with eSports and vice versa.

eSports players vs. casual gamers

A good comparison I like to make is comparing eSports to traditional sports. Now before you grab the pitchforks hear me out, let’s take basketball for example. Anyone can go to an open court and shoot 50 free throws, to the average non-basketball player that is a big time and effort investment, but professional EU league players or NBA players will laugh that off due to them doing up to triple that amount as a warm up or even a cool down (In some extreme cases both, cough… Kobe… cough… Jordan).

The Final Thought

In conclusion, that sums up the main point of this article, understanding the difference between ‘Gaming’ and ‘eSports’, so the next time you hear someone shout out “These guys are playing games for millions, they don’t deserve that” belligerently, try to calmly explain to them that to even be considered for a spot in a premier tournament, 16 hours a day of mental endurance is needed, coupled with the skill set to work as a team or outwit a opponent in a one-on-one situation, which entails enormous mental demand. Some even argue the fact that they work harder than traditional athletes!

How do you feel about it?