E-sports is set to become as big as traditional sport, says internationally recognised videogame commentator Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner.
Chaloner, from Brighton, England, is in South Africa ahead of Rage Johannesburg, a gaming event set to take place at Northgate from 7 to 9 October.
Chaloner said there is growing global interest in e-sports and that big investment is beginning to flow its way. He said that youth are more interested in streaming video rather than watching traditional TV, and this has resulted in e-sport players and commentators “becoming more famous than TV stars”.
“Some of the e-sports players can’t go out and eat at the same restaurants they had eaten at for the last 10 years. They are the next sporting superstars, no doubt about it,” Chaloner said. “Most of the demographic, 16 to 30 years, don’t watch TV. They watch YouTube, they watch e-sports. My kids will grow up with YouTube stars who will effectively become their film and TV stars,” he added.
“Governments around the world are already investing heavily into e-sports. It’s already begun, the revolution is here,” he said.
Chaloner, an avid gamer himself, said he became an e-sports commentator in 2002 by “mistake”.
“I was playing in a fairly high level at videogame tournament when a friend asked me to comment on a videogame, I guess luckily for me I was quite good at it,” he said.
“Today’s commentators have it a lot harder to go from commentating in their bedrooms to doing it at large events,” Chaloner said.
He added, though, that being an e-sports commentator or player is becoming a lucrative career.
The recent International Six event held in Seattle saw a cash prize of US$20,8m.
“There is a lot of talent in South Africa, and with a company like Telkom getting behind this event, you could say that the country is ahead of some other countries in e-sports. However, more people and investors actually need to take notice of it,” he said.
Chaloner will be master of ceremonies and ambassador for the Rage event this year, while also working with local talent and building hype around the event.
Rage is South Africa’s biggest annual videogaming, computer and technology exhibition, drawing throngs of attendees.