Hidden eSports industry booming in Orlando area

Competitive video gaming market thrives in Orlando area

By Richard Ochoa - Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Electronic sports is a fast-growing industry that many have no idea exists. But eSports is a real thing. Some just call it competitive video gaming. 

It's growing at an alarming rate, so much so that, last month, the International Olympic Committee and the Global Association of International Sports Federations hosted an eSports forum. The goal of the meeting was to begin the dialogue to build an understanding for future engagement between eSports and the Olympic Movement.

"I think it's inevitable. I think it will be part of the Olympics," Logitech International president and CEO Bracken Darrell told CNBC this week. "I'll make another prediction, which it'll be hard to hold me to unless you have me on the show in 10 years or 20 years, but I think it'll be the biggest sport in the world." 

It seems that on the global front eSports will be just fine. But how about in Orlando and the greater Central Florida area? Well, News 6 asked a local expert to weigh in on the matter.

Montica "TictacFresh" Sansook, founder of Defy eSports Bar, answered a few questions about the eSports boom in the Orlando area.

First off, Defy eSports Bar is a nightlife venue that will be dedicated to eSports.

Check out its promotional video: 

"The inspiration is to create an inclusive place to bring together the community and celebrate the diversity of eSports," Sansook said.

Competitive video gaming "is more than just about young individuals in their late teens or their early 20s facing off for a trophy," Sansook said. "We are talking about a massive global movement that is providing income through a passion, creating career paths from the tech industry to the professional arena, cult-like communities birthed out of passion, major brands and companies heeding cause to pivot."

Just by chatting with TictacFresh, it's clear that the passion for eSports is off the charts. 

Sansook said that eSports isn't just for guys who live in basements.

"And, of course, smashing my favorite stereotypes of grandma's basement dwellers," she said. "No offense to all the grandmas out there with awesome basements. Meaning, the gaming culture only extends toward young males in their mid, late 20s. That could not be farther from the truth when the eSports demographic ranges both male and female from under 15 to 50 plus years of age. Super exciting to see video gaming bringing all sorts of people together."

Sansook said the industry should be taken easily.

"ESports, electronic sports, competitive video gaming -- whatever coined term that comes out next -- is simply playing video games against another and seeing what the outcomes may be. But do not belittle or knock this industry until you've tried it firsthand. You might be surprised at whom you may know to cheer on the players of their favorite game."

Some may argue that the benefits of playing video games are up for debate.

Sansook said the conclusion is simple. She said the fact remains that the industry is growing and growing and it's time for the world to take notice.

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