Stanford University for the game Spacewar. Stanford students were invited to an "Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics". The grand prize was a year's subscription for Rolling Stone Magazine.
Space Invaders Championship
Sponsored by Atari in 1980 was the earliest large scale video game competition. It attracted more than 10,000 participants across the United States, establishing competitive gaming as a mainstream hobby
Early Televised Attempts
1982 - 1984
Televised eSports events aired during this period included the American show, Starcade, with a total of 133 episodes, on which contestants would attempt to beat each other's high scores.
1990 - 1999
Large eSports tournaments in the 1990s include the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, which toured across the United States, and held its finals at Universal Studios Hollywood in California. Nintendo held a 2nd World Championships in 1994.
Tournaments established in the late 1990s include the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), QuakeCon, and the Professional Gamers League. PC games played at the CPL included the Counter-Strike series, Quake series, and Warcraft.
Industry in Infancy
2000 - 2009
The Korean e-Sports Association, an arm of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, was founded in 2000 to promote and regulate eSports in the country.
Many successful tournaments were founded during this period, including the World Cyber Games, the Intel Extreme Masters, and Major League Gaming.
The 2000s was a popular time for televised eSports. (OnGameNet, XLEAGUE.TV, Championship Gaming Series) But all of these Network, among others, closed down right before the 2010’s.
Birth of Twitch and Esports Explosion
The popularity and emergence of online streaming services have helped the growth of eSports in this period, and are the most common method of watching tournaments. Twitch, an online streaming platform launched in 2011, routinely streams popular eSports competitions.
In 2013, viewers of the platform watched 12 billion minutes of video on the service, with the two most popular Twitch broadcasters being League of Legends and Dota 2.
University Scholarships in Esports (TESPA)
2013 - Present
Since 2013 Universities and Colleges in the United States such as Robert Morris University Illinois and the University of Pikeville have recognized eSports players as varsity level athletes and offer athletic scholarships.
In 2017, TESPA (Texas eSports Association), Blizzard Entertainment's collegiate eSports division, unveiled its new initiative to provide scholarships and prizes for collegiate eSports clubs competing in its tournaments worth US$1 million.
eSports as Professionals
June 14, 2013
After a long back and forth with the government,between the United States Government and Riot Game's eSports Manager Nick Allen, the U.S. finally now recognize eSports players as professional athletes, and will grant them visas under that identifier. This will dramatically streamline the process for foreign players to enter the U.S. for events, and it's a big victory for the Industry.
Staples Center SOLD OUT
October 4, 2013
Season 3 League of Legends World Championship was held in a sold-out Staples Center.
Attendance - ~15,000 Attendees
32 Million Unique Views from Streaming Service: Twitch.tv
Plans for the Future
2015 - 2018
In 2015, the first Esports Arena was launched in Santa Ana, California as the U.S.'s first dedicated eSports facility.
In 2018, the Luxor Las Vegas will open the first eSports Arena on the Las Vegas Strip and additional locations are planned to open in the coming decade.