All you eSports fans out there can rejoice, because it looks like the world’s starting to see gaming through your eyes.

In the past, eSports has been seen as a “fake” version of sports, and the professional players who pursue it as illegitimate, and possibly even a little crazy.

(No, seriously. Go talk to someone on the street and explain that people are paid to play eSports, and you’ll likely get a look that says you’re just as crazy as the players are.)

But the great thing is that interest in eSports is growing, and recent events have helped boost its reputation (and therefore its acceptance as the real deal) worldwide. Here’s a closer look at two of these events — please reference these if anyone ever gives you the “you’re crazy” look when you talk about eSports.

 

League of Legends Championships Draw in Millions of Viewers

For starters, take a look at the online multiplayer game League of Legends.

Riot Games, creator of League, started hosting tournaments and championships of the game, with many participating official teams backed by sponsors like Coke. These championships only grew in size and viewership, until they exploded expectations last year.

The Season 3 World Championship finals in October of 2013 boasted some incredible stats:

– a completely sold-out Staples Center where the finals took place
– 32 million viewers total
– 8.5 million viewers streaming at the same time
– millions of dollars in prize money

Compare those numbers to the fact that 300,000 people watched the British royal wedding on Livestream.com, and only 12.9 million people watched the recent season finale of How I Met Your Mother.

Add that to the fact that gaming has been found to make you smarter, and there’s strong proof that the public is more than ready to watch eSports and accept them as a legitimate form of sports and entertainment.

South Korea University Accepts eSports Players as Athletes

Additionally, consider the way that eSports players are starting to be treated.

The best example comes from South Korea’s Chung-Ang University, one of the country’s top-10 schools, which recently announced that it considers eSports gamers to be the same as professional athletes.

Interested students can apply to be considered for admission as an eSports athlete to the university’s Department of Sports Science. The admission policy states that eSports will be labeled as an individual sport.

Now, instead of commiserating over the fact that they’ll never go to college for a sports scholarship, gamers actually have a chance at being recognized for their skills, just as football stars or swim team members are.

The State of eSports Will Only Improve

The eSports revolution has begun, and things continue to look up. No longer are gamers considered to be wasting their lives when they pursue professional gaming, and soon more and more companies will invest in the industry (like Coke did), which may actually make it profitable for game studios.

So keep fitting gaming into your day, and you may very well end up being one of those players the rest of us watch during streaming playoffs!