The Growth of Geek Gaming Culture

Posted by Flux on 

6 August 2018

What’s trending now?
It’s official. Geeks now earn more than jocks, and not just in the boardroom. eSports stars (aka people who play video games professionally) are starting to out-earn pro-athletes too.

Why is it important?

Nerd culture has come a long way since the days of Dungeons and Dragons.

The French game company, Asmodee, responsible for the (very nerdy) cult-classic role-playing board game, Settlers of Catan, has just been sold to PAI Partners, a private equity firm, for 1.4 billion US dollars.

At the same time, eSports championships are offering million-dollar prizes to attract top eSports talent. For example, the battle arena game, Dota 2, recently gave away 20 million US dollars in prizes to its championship winners. For comparison, players in the winning team in the American Super Bowl each take home “only” 120,000 US dollars in prize money.

Some American colleges are even offering eSports scholarships, a phenomenon that grew 480% from 2017 to 2018. There are now 81 American schools that offer gaming scholarships.

Parents, in the hopes of helping their geeky offspring to take advantage of the new scholarships are investing in 35 dollar an hour gaming coaches to perfect their children’s gaming skills.

As if all that money is not enough to make the jocks jealous, eSports stars are proving popular with fans (and fan girls) too.

Currently the most popular YouTube channel with over 64 million subscribers, belongs to PewDePie, aka Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, a Swedish “video game commentator”.

Similarly, more than 20,000 “screaming fans” turned out to watch teams from all over the world battle it out for the 3.5 million dollar prize pool at the 2018 inaugural Overwatch eSports League (OWL) championships. OWL, which was broadcast live on ESPN, has plans to become the NFL or MBA of professional team gaming.

Above: Watch the Inaugural Season Overwatch League Champions

South Africa has its own thriving eSports sub-culture . The local High School eSports League (HSEL), for example, which is not one year old yet, already has seventeen member schools. Our top earning e-sports star, “Shiaan Rugbeer” earned a (very decent) 33,400 dollars’ worth of prize money from participating in two FIFA 18 e-sports tournaments over the past year.

Above: Meet some of South Africa’s “Sexiest eSports Bachelors”

What’s the Butterfly effect?
The eSports industry, which is already worth 696 million US dollars per annum, is on track to become a 1.5 billion US dollar market by 2020.

There are talks about eSports being included in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In short, jocks are out, nerds are in, while footballers are no longer top of the high-school food chain.

Brands and businesses should take note of the sponsorship and advertising opportunities surrounding this billion-dollar industry.

Global Hotspots
YouTube and Twitch. Twitch is a live-streaming version of YouTube exclusively for gaming. Subscribers sign up to watch other people play video games. Twitch was sold to Amazon in 2014 for 970 million US dollars and, as of May 2018, has 2.2 million monthly broadcasters and 15 million daily active users

By Bronwyn Williams

Flux Trends’ experts are available for comment and interviews. For all media enquiries please contact Tshepo Narvis on

We have a Flux Trends Laboratory – The Transhuman Race  in Johannesburg on the 30th of August 2018.

Image credit: Bago Games
Video credit: Overwatch League AND Sam Wright

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