Know Your Roots: eSports Celebrates Its 30 Year Anniversary

Pro-gamers have been around for decades but here's when it became official.

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Complex Original

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The video game industry is more than just making video games. Throughout the years It has expanded into other avenues such as films, clothing apparel, concerts and more. Competitive gaming is yet another avenue that the video game industry has developed with competitions dating as far back as 1972. Gamers around the world should know their history as today marks the 30 year anniversary of  eSports’ first world championship.

Walter “The Ref” Day, founder of the Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa tirelessly worked towards establishing video games as a professional sport and created a legendary event where gamers would compete to qualify for history’s first Video Game World Championship. The globally recognized “father of competitive gaming” spearheaded the eSports movement as the official adjudicator for electronic games and pinball since 1982 and continues to this day.

Within a year, Walter Day’s passion project grew and later became known as The Video Game Olympics, bringing together 19 of North America’s top players to compete in five of the most popular arcade games at the time: Frogger, Millipede, Joust, Super Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong Jr. The top three finalists Darren Olsen, Todd Walker and Ben Gold won complimentary subscriptions to Joystik, RePlay and Play Meter Magazine and were invited to compete on ABC’s televised That’s IncredibleVideo Game Invitational in Los Angeles on January 8, 1983.

Hosted by Cathy Lee Crosby, Fran Tarkenton, and John Davidson, the That’s Incredible Video Game Invitational saw Ben Gold defeat Darren and Todd to become the first video game world champion ever.

Today, eSports continues to evolve as leagues around the world such as (MLG) Major League Gaming, (WCG) World Cyber Games, (ESL) The eSports League and more provide opportunities for gamers to win money and prizes. With even more leagues on the rise, eSports has expanded with numerous partnerships with high-end businesses like CBS Interactive, Virgin Gaming, and Twitch TV to provide platforms for spectators to be entertained by professional video game players. To accomplish so much in 30 years in nothing short of amazing but to imagine what will come in the next 30 is simply mind-blowing.

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