The games of esports — skill, chance and everything inbetween

With esports’ intersection with the gambling industry continuing to deepen, Hai Ng looks at the history and workings of some of the most popular esports genres and games, and how their differences can affect their interface with gambling products

Like in sports, there are a very large number of games and competitions that are played as part of esports. Like sports, they vary in the types and degrees of physical effort, motor skills, cognitive abilities, coordination, and chance.

To the uninitiated, many games in esports may look similar. Even if you’ve dabbled playing esports games, just like their traditional sports counterparts, playing at a competitive level brings in nuance that is not otherwise encountered, and even more so at the professional level.

As esports continues to intersect with the gambling industry, it will be helpful to not just understand what esports is as a whole, but how its various games and genres differ, and how those differences can affect their interface with gambling products.

This will be the first of a series of articles which will shed light on the history and workings of some of the most popular esports genres and games.

Stage 1: First person shooters (FPS)
The first-person shooter, or FPS, is one of the oldest genres in competitive video games and is still extremely popular today.

Its roots can go back to vehicle simulations with vector or line-based 3D graphics used by military trainers and flight simulators. In the 1980s, we had arcade games like Battlezone that featured a first-person viewpoint.

Who fired first—a brief history of FPS

As computing power increased, it gave game designers the ability to take the player out-of-the-box of a vehicle and into the game. The first successful commercial FPS title was Wolfenstein 3D, which itself evolved from a much older, top-down game named

Castle Wolfenstein, where you played a character trying to escape a Nazi stronghold.

This game was one of the first to introduce the signature look that we’ve come to expect from all FPS games today—a view of your character’s hands, holding your weapon in front of you, and that dizzying bobbing walk, which thankfully, can be turned off.

While processing power was still quite limited in the early 1990s,  games like Wolfenstein 3D limited the playing areas to narrow corridors that are dimly lit. This actually helped coin the term Corridor Shooter, which was a predecessor to the FPS moniker.

FPS games also popularized the now-common mouse and keyboard control mechanics that resulted in the popular WASD movement control key combination. While earlier games defaulted to the more obvious arrow keys, the position of the arrow keys on a typical keyboard wasn’t favorable, especially for right-handed mouse users. WASD provided much easier access to the spacebar, typically used to trigger jumping, and a wider variety of the…

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