Playing to Win: Why Do We Enjoy Competing Against Strangers?

For those who have indulged in an online game in the past, the appeal of games seems relatively easy to understand. Indeed, there are few pastimes as satisfying as lying down on the couch after a long day and settling in for a gaming session as a way of unwinding.

But for many thousands of people, if not millions, there is another side to gaming that keeps them playing. For those individuals, it is the competitive side of gaming that keeps them switching on their console of choice night after night. Rather than using online games as a way of unwinding or relaxing, their sole motivation is the thrill of achieving a victory against another human.

One of the most notable trends in the video games industry over the last decade, but particularly in the last few years, has been the rise of competitive gaming. Also known as ‘eSports,’ the competitive gaming industry is now worth a figure in the billions of dollars. In fact, by 2022, industry analysts are predicting that the eSports industry alone will be worth $1.8bn. And in terms of the numbers of individuals either playing or watching eSports, the current global audience is estimated to be around 600 million people, reflecting a 40% growth in audience numbers each year since 1998!

With these figures in mind, it is clear that the competitive eSports industry is big business!

But what drives us to these ways of playing video games? And why are certain games attracted to the competitive side of things while others are not?

Staying social

Firstly, there is the social aspect. Online games are typically a very social affair, which is why we are attracted to them. Studies have shown that we are increasingly using online mediums to do much of our socializing these days, with online games like those at Resorts’ NJ Online Casino being an incredibly popular format to do this through. Such competitive games are especially useful for socializing as the competition element can help build up camaraderie within a group of friends.

Building self-confidence

Another reason why competitive online games can be so satisfying for players is that they help build up confidence in those playing them. Multiplayer games allow individual players to take on group roles that enable them to learn how to manage a team or work within a group. This has been shown to boost confidence, particularly amongst those lacking self-esteem.


Competitive online games offer an unparalleled level of immersion when compared to single-player games. The frenetic and fast-paced rate of play helps to immerse the player in the game as the action unfolds in real-time and demands that the player respond accordingly. Itrequires high levels of attention to be paid to the game, which increases the feeling of immersion.It is a potent feeling and heightens the desire to keep playing. This is something unique to competitive online games, and keeps players coming back for more!