Watching “gamers” game. The idea may seem a bit odd to those outside the eSports Gaming world, but yes, it’s a thing. In fact, it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry that draws in millions of viewers, kind of thing. And a thing The Coca-Cola Company is investing in.

"Gaming offers us a platform to reach an audience that is very difficult to reach. When it comes to engaging an audience, eSports in particular gives us three bites of the apple: play, viewership and attendance,” says Matt Wolf, head of global gaming at Coca-Cola.  

Gaming is no longer just a teenage pastime. Today it is the fastest-growing form of entertainment, representing more annual revenue than both the music and cinema industry combined. Thousands of fans fill stadiums to watch live eSports competitions, while millions more watch online. One of the main “networks” to watch gaming online is Twitch.tv.

Game-a-Thon 1.0

Last month, Coke Zero and Twitch hosted a live "Game-a-Thon 1.0" at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. Four professional gamers took the stage for a head-to-head competition in five Wii and computer games. Games included classics like Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers.



Game-a-Thon 1.0
The four pro Gamers take the stage to game for seven straight hours at the Coke headquarters in Atlanta.

Atlanta-based Coke employees had the opportunity to watch in person, and thousands more looked on via a live streaming Twitch.tv channel. Two large screens projected the games behind the players. And like many live sporting events, the well-known competitors (Justin Flynn, Jon Carnage, Swiftor and VoyBoy) brought the heat while a professional anchor, Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico, reported the play by play.

Who would have thought watching people play games could be as fun, if not more entertaining, than actually playing the games yourself? But it is. The energy was contagious. For hours, the players carried on a hilarious banter that kept you wanting more. Almost begging the question, why haven't I watched live-stream gaming before? 



Game-A-Thon
Gaming host Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico reports live on Twitch.tv

"Bringing the event to Coca-Cola physically is a unique window into both worlds,” explains Wolf. “We give our employees at Coke a never before seen view of what a gaming broadcast looks like—a look into the relationship between the gamers, caster and fans. But we’re also giving the viewing audience a look into our world at Coke. Viewers can see we're not just a mythical big brand. We’re real people here and we care.” 

Gaming for Good

In the spirit of caring, each player competed on behalf of a charity of their choice. The charities included: Charity Water, St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital, Extra Life and Doctors Without Borders. VoyBoy won the event taking home the grand prize for Doctors Without Borders. The other players also received a prize check for their charities. 

"Throughout my entire life, I wished to study medicine and become a doctor in order to help those in need. By supporting Doctors without Borders and taking home the win for them in the Game-A-Thon, I was able to help drive a noble cause that I am passionate about." says VoyBoy.


'Gaming is For Everyone.'

In addition to the idea of "Gaming for good," the line "Gaming is for everyone" was also a common theme at the event. 

“The main reason I’ve stuck with competitive gaming is that even though I played sports growing up, competitive sports weren’t for everyone. But in competitive gaming you can be physically disabled, you can be any age, any race, anything under the sun and you can be a professional gamer," says Quirico. "The best part of eSports is that you’re getting role models, you’re getting examples of people who don’t normally see themselves in the spotlight or on stage being interviewed."  



Game-A-Thon
The Game-A-Thon crew takes a private tour of the Coca-Cola archives

VoyBoy agrees. "Gaming is definitely for everyone. I truly believe that games and the joy of playing them will continue to bring people all across the world together for generations to come."

Coca-Cola shares the same sentiment, as the company continues to expand its reach in the fascinating world. 

Game-A-Thon 2.0?

"I can only hope that Coke will continue to get and stay involved in gaming and eSports in the future. There's so much room to grow gaming on a global scale, and Coke is one of the awesome brands that is helping make that happen," says VoyBoy.  


That's the plan, according to Wolf, who is excited and optimistic about Coke's role in eSports. With more to come on the Coke Twitch.tv channel and events like Game-A-Thon 1.0, there's no telling what boundaries will be tested in 2015. As for a Game-A-Thon 2.0, that's TBD. But what is for certain, Coke's involvement in the eSports is just getting started. 

For all the latest Coke eSports news and updates follow @CokeEsports.