Sports bars are extremely popular in the United States. Whenever there is an important sports game being aired (whether it be football, basketball, soccer, etc.), people flock to sports bars to watch. There are many reasons why one might go to a bar to watch a sports game. Most prefer the social atmosphere and being in an environment where everyone has a similar interest. This makes it a lot easier to meet new people with similar interests or to discuss a sports game with a random stranger. Some might prefer the view or variety; many sports bars have multiple televisions with multiples games on at the same time. This offers much more convenience than perhaps staying at home, flipping through channels and watching sports games on a lower quality television. And of course, being at a bar means easier and faster access to food and alcohol.
An eSports bar is a type of a sports bar. As the name suggests, eSports bars televise video game competitions instead of sports games to the audience. They are also referred as “BarCrafts”, a combination of the word Bar and Starcraft, a popular game in the eSports scene. The rise of BarCrafts originates in Seattle, where an avid Starcraft fan had the idea to watch the broadcasting of a Starcraft tournament with a bunch of other people (from the online social site Reddit) that live in the vicinity. While visiting an Asian-themed bar known as Chao Bistro, he found out that the owner of the bar was also a fan of the game. He then suggested to the owner to show Starcraft at his bar, to which the owner agreed. He then posted on Reddit informing people about his plan, and the next day over one hundred people showed up to the bar! It was so overcrowded that the owner had to make the painters working for him help run the bar.
Since then, eSports Bars have appeared worldwide, providing the perfect atmosphere for gamers to meet and discuss video games. Many websites soon appeared to help people organize these BarCraft events, such as:
The companies of popular games in the eSports scene, such as Starcraft or Dota, began organizing their own BarCrafts dedicated specifically to their game. For Chao Bistro, the BarCraft business was a welcomed change because of the amount of revenue it generated. It has gone on to host twice a week viewings, attracting on average forty to fifty customers each time, including employees of Amazon and Microsoft. For other bars around the world, hosting similar viewings meant an attracting a new demographic previously unheard of: video game nerds.
Esports bars and BarCrafts are representative of the growing acceptance of video games in society. In the past, video games were seen as meant for children and considered a waste of time. However, those children and teenagers who might have first started playing Starcraft ten years ago are now young adults. Many of those adults still play or are still interested in the game. As a result, video games among young adults is becoming a more accepted hobby. Most of the people at these eSports bars are ones who follow the competitive scene of eSports. Just like sports games, the passion for competitive video game matches at bars is just as intense; people who have been to eSports bars describe it similar to watching the World Cup at a sports bar. As watching competitive gaming becomes more popular among gamers, the number eSports bars will only grow.
In College Park, there are a couple of clubs dedicated to various games of the eSports scene; many club members watch, follow, and discuss the competitive scene of their game. If a college bar were to host a BarCraft event during a major tournament, it would no doubt attract many customers. If companies, businesses, or even student clubs were to sponsor such an event, it would no doubt generate publicity for them too. To give an example of the potential revenue a BarCraft at College Park could generate, the League of Legends Club and Riot (the company that created League of Legends) hosted a viewing at the Computer Science Instructional Center on campus to watch the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship Game. Over three-hundred college students showed up to watch the match. Even if only allowing people age 21 or over, hosting a BarCraft during this day would no doubt bring lots of business to a bar. This would also be a solution to the overcrowded problem caused by three hundred students in one place. It is a great business opportunity that more college bars should be aware of.