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Before to talk about the first eSport tournament, let’s have a look at Spacewar game! Developed in 1962, Spacewar is a deathmatch video game. No need to add an asterisk to explain that categorization; from Doom to Counter-Strike everybody knows what deathmatch means. On this game, both players control a spaceship, floating randomly in the middle of the intergalactic space. The ships are armed with 2 weapons: torpedoes and jet boosters. The goal is very simple, 1on1 situation, you just have to find the best way to destroy your opponent’s ship!
Spacewar is running on a PDP-10 computer – The game’s spaceships got a central sun that is forever pulling them closer to possible doom and endowing their limited universe with a tactile believability.
First eSport tournament, October 1972
Now I am pretty sure you begin to understand the link between Spacewar and competition. At Stanford’s campus in October 1972, several smart students kick off the first eSport tournament. Competition’s name was simply: ‘Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics’. The prize was a humble subscription to the magazine, Rolling Stone. During a competitive game, players get a limited number of missiles and fuel, meaning this is a game of strategy as well as reflexes. The learning curve requires practicing, concentration and several skills, it is clearly the ancestor of the actual games. Stewart Brand, 33 years old, a biology student was the first guy to win this Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics. In consequence, he is also the first player to win a video game tournament.
Bruce Baumgart, on October 19, 1972, winner of the first eSport tournament
A new philosophy was born.
Every player around the world surely remember late-night game party Smash Bross, Mario Kart or more recently Overwatch : that compulsive need for “one more round,” that funny-frustrating gargle of emotions when your best friend briefly becomes your mortal enemy. For a player who got his hands on Spacewar! the feeling is not much different. A famous writer, Joseph F. Goodavage, who was also a seasoned space warrior writing for men’s magazine Saga : “Like nearly everyone else who’d ever played this war game, I was instantly addicted and anxious for a rematch.”
From SpaceWar to League of Legends got only one goal: win the competition. This desire to be the best and push your skills to the limits was born 46 years ago. We can simply call this tournament: the eSports foundation.
Bonus: if you want to try Spacewar, come here 🙂