In an article titled “Are eSports Going To Replace The Beautiful Game?” British GQ contributor Andy Mitten spins a yarn about going somewhere where there are no Manchester United fans. Where are all the sports-hungry young men, he wonders? This is where the esports hook comes in, a full twelve paragraphs after the article has begun.
Listen: This is just an interview with Sam Mathews, founder and chairman of Fnatic, with some opinions from the attendees of the Lisbon Web Summit thrown in. You have probably read something like it before about esports, or video games in general, or board games or comics: Bam, Biff, Pow, Comic Books Aren’t For Kids Anymore. These are all hobbies that a lot of people enjoy except for when it comes time for a forty-year-old dude to write about it, and that’s fine. Your mom emails these articles to you, and it’s nice that she pays attention to your interests.
There’s this one super fucking weird sentence in Mitten’s article, though. When he describes esports athletes, he says:
“They make millions through prizes, appearance fees or merchandise. They have fans and fan clubs who sing about and chant names of star players. There are transfers between teams. Some of the athletes even look like they’ve had consensual sex.”
It’s just a sentence that makes you stop and think, “Where was this man’s editor?” And also, “Can you share your facial recognition technology that could help prevent rapes?” First of all, esports dudes fuck, a lot, and Compete has been there every step of the way to let you know about it. Second of all, this sentence implies that up until this point Andy Mitten thought that all esports athletes were probably rapists. Somewhere between writing eleven books, as noted in his Twitter bio, and now, he thought to himself: Huh, I bet people who play Counter-Strike professionally also constantly rape people.
Esports athletes are just, you know, some guys? These are normal people who just happen to be really fucking good at League of Legends. Even if they didn’t have sex, they’d still be great at video games. I dunno, I’m also gonna wager a guess that most of them aren’t going around raping people all the time. Esports doesn’t necessarily have a more or less healthy relationship with sex than non-esports scenes. They have one that’s equivalent with the rest of the world. The value of these men isn’t measured by how many times they have put their genitals on, in or around another person. And on the flip side, it’s not like your sex organs fall off if you’ve played Candy Crush in your lifetime.
Remember high school band? Band kids didn’t care about being cool—or they did in the jazz way where you talk about records all the time but not do the cool things jazz musicians did, like smoke weed. Me and my emo kid friends would laugh at their earnestness and make fun of them for being virgins, despite being virgins ourselves. It turns out, I would have had better luck catching a dick with them than among my friends who loved Taking Back Sunday and crying about how girls are mean. It was because these people knew what they liked and weren’t ashamed of it. It’s way easier to get someone to have sex with you if you’re not caked in a layer of ironic detachment. People who have a passion are pretty hot, even if that passion is MOBAs.
There are plenty of things in life that young people do that I don’t get. I have never much liked EDM, I don’t use Snapchat, I can’t understand Discord and to be honest I really, really don’t get esports. But when I struggle with a Snapchat filter, I don’t wonder about whether or not people who use Snapchat have consensual sex.