Generation Z has never lived in a world without the internet. Born into a digital realm built on technology and instant connection, GenZ has a different outlook on—and superior mastery of—the online reality we live in today. Consequently, their refreshing influence is changing how we approach entertainment, leading the charge into a more robust space for eSports.
Gamers who fall into the GenZ category are taking online gaming to a new level. Sure, they use gaming the same way as generations who came before them did (and still do), as a source of entertainment and vessel for exploring new worlds. There’s nothing quite like checking out at the end of a long day and checking in to your favorite alternate reality.
In the wake of pandemic-induced lockdowns, it’s hard to overlook the invaluable social aspect that online gaming provided kids and young adults who were otherwise shut off from the world and people around them. GenZ gamers are taking advantage of the incredible social opportunity hidden in plain sight. Gamers can virtually gather with friends to conquer unseen realms or make new connections with like-minded players a world away.
The sense of belonging that comes with online gaming is one that GenZ fits right into. eSports provides an unlimited opportunity to socialize with other gamers and form connections that would otherwise be beyond unlikely. GenZers are building massive, interconnected communities based on shared interests and common goals, without concern for the players’ race, gender, or other identifying factors behind other controllers.
GenZ is notoriously inclusive, giving little thought to racial and gender barriers that divided the gaming world of the past. Esports communities now boast more female and female-identifying players than ever before. Many female gamers of past generations report intentionally choosing names and avatars that didn’t give their gender away, as female gamers were often bullied or dismissed in earlier gaming spheres.
This unbridled inclusivity has led to staggering statistics that promise a change for the better. Many of eSports’ top-earning and performing players are now female, and many professional teams have one or more female players. In fact, some of the top teams in eSportstoday are female teams.
Beyond the changing demographics GenZ is bringing to eSports, they’ve also encouraged the popular craze surrounding the platform. Even teens and young adults who don’t identify as “gamers” still engage with eSports as spectators.
YouTube hosts several exclusive channels where eSports enthusiasts can watch elite players do their thing and learn how to upskill themselves. These channels attract massive audiences and, in turn, seem to make their players into digital celebrities. Popular gamers and eSports champions transcend languages, countries and even skill levels to appeal to gamers worldwide. Many GenZ gamers now look at gaming influencers the same way millennials and GenX revered professional athletes.
This reverence has opened the door for talented gamers to monetize their favorite hobby, and they don’t even have to be an eSports world champion to do it. Many GenZers are using their tech-savvy to create in-app mods, weapons, or special skills that can be sold. Live streaming allows skilled players to hold paid educational sessions for less experienced players.
Of course, professional gaming and tournaments are still where big money is, thanks to GenZ gamers. With the world following the lead of game-crazed GenZ, tournament and team sponsors are coming out of the woodwork. One eSports team in Singapore, Chaos Theory, has even crossed the threshold, officially offering its players full-time employment contracts complete with benefits (which, let’s face it, is better than many college graduates get when entering the workforce).
Major sports leagues are following suit, putting more energy into eSports than ever before. Organizations like the NBA, NFL and MLB have even worked to establish eSports leagues of their own, connecting online squads to real-life gamers and teams. These pursuits create massive job opportunities for eSports players, developers and designers.
The focus that influential sports organizations are putting on their eSports pursuits sends a clear message: If you can’t beat them, join them. GenZ has shown less interest in physical sports than any generations before them. The easy access and acceptance of eSports and online gaming is hard to resist, and a years-long pandemic has only strengthened the appeal. The pastimes of generations past will have to climb aboard or say goodbye to their upcoming fanbase.
GenZ is the immediate future, hurtling toward online gaming faster than ever. This generation successfully turned their favorite hobby into a solid career, lending more weight than ever to the adage that tells us to “find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” These kids took that advice to a whole other level.