Competitive Programming As An eSport – From Programmer To Pro Gamer!

2 min read

Who hasn’t heard of Counter-Strike? CS-GO is a big part of the eSports phenomenon, which is on the rise worldwide. There are millions of fans across the globe who enjoy their favourite video game as a sport at the highest level. Several games like Call of Duty, Valorant, Counter-Strike and FIFA among others have enjoyed huge success at the very top. This has provided a whole new realm of possibilities to streamers across the globe. With the advancements in technology, new and innovative types of online competitions are emerging. The question now stands, can competitive programming be taken to another level? Competitive programming becoming as entertaining and popular as video games – a prophetic statement or a utopian dream?

The Beginning of the eSports Era

Most of us are already familiar with the concept of eSports in general. Ever since people have gotten access to cheaper internet connections, especially in India, eSports is going through its golden period. There are dedicated streaming platforms like Twitch and Discord that make way for budding gamers. The audience for such competitions keeps on increasing exponentially every year. This, in turn, increases the prize pools that are set for such events. Thousands of people across the globe are making a living out of it. This clearly shows how far we have come in this domain. That being said, can competitive programming enter this domain and blur the difference between entertainment and learning?

How Bright is the Future for eSports?

With Virtual Reality and BCIs (Brain-Computer Interface) already in development, eSports has a great future ahead of it. The audience will only keep on increasing, and it would be the best way for other communities to take over and have the full advantage of it. 

Eventually, with all the hype and excitement, there are specific questions that we, as a community, need to address. With the current infrastructure and reachability, are we ready for a monumental change like this? Specifically, in a country like India where competitive programming has still not reached its full potential, are we prepared to pull off something of this sort?

Why is this the right approach?

Before discussing how we can do this, let’s talk about why we should. One of the main reasons people love to watch eSports other than pure entertainment is learning from the best. They carefully monitor the gameplay and try to imitate the tactics used to improve their game. 

This is where programming gets to have the upper hand in the discussion. Watching elite programmers like Gennady Korotkevich code live while also doing commentary for the viewers would be simply unbelievable. It could be inspirational for people who want to make it big in the world of coding. Because of the global audience that you get to have, this exercise would raise the learning experience to a completely different level. 

As this initiative starts taking shape, there can be games that make full use of the coding paradigm. This would be a whole new experience for the spectators as they could visualize the code because of the graphics. There are several streamers on Twitch and other coding platforms that have already begun experimenting on this. 

The Changes needed for The Magic to happen!

Unarguably the most challenging hurdle for the community would be to make this whole programming experience enjoyable to even non-programmers. A great way to implement this idea is to incorporate programming with artificial intelligence. This is where the full potential of coding could be exploited. Imagine how would you feel if a mere hundred lines of code could make an AI bot behave in brilliant ways. Something like this will leave the audience spell bounded and awaken their curiosity for what’s more to come.

The competitive programming community needs to become more social and interactive if they want to achieve the popularity of eSports. Elite coders need to be active on forums to engage with their audience. The engagement would make the fans feel passionate about the sport, and this is the ultimate goal that anyone looks forward to achieving. 

Are we ready?

Back to our leading problem, is the community ready for it? With the current technology, it is plausible to have competitive programming as a category of eSports. If you give it a thought, you don’t need high-end processors and incredible streaming devices for achieving something like this. A simple system that you use for your daily programming activities is enough to make this possible. That is the beauty of coding; the simplicity is enough to leave people amazed. Indeed we have a long way to go as programming is still a budding community, but the fact that we can even talk about it is already exciting!

What are your views on the possibilities of merging gaming with programming? Comment down below to share your thoughts. This is CodeChef correspondent Ashutosh signing off and hoping that you have more innovative ideas for the community. Till then, keep learning, keep coding.

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