In a short few years, e-sports has become a huge global phenomenon. And fans are going to large events in ever-increasing numbers. It might seem strange for people to pay for an event where they watch other people play games, but those fans say that they’re in it for the community of fellowship with other gamers and because of the atmosphere, according to a survey by ticketing marketplace Eventbrite.

The e-sports fans are a dedicated group, turning titles like League of Legends into the most played games on the Internet. The new report shows how much of a cultural shift live gaming events are creating in gamers, who used to be more of a sedentary and solitary group, at least based on the stereotypes. How dedicated are they? 38 percent said they were willing to travel to another country to attend an e-sports event.

About 81 percent said they attend in order to feel like a part of the community and 61 percent are looking to connect with friends they usually interact with only online. Gamers also enjoy simply being a part of the atmosphere. 66 percent said that attending a live e-sports event gives them another way to experience games, with many commenting that the big sights, sounds, screens, and stage are all compelling reasons to see it live.

e-sports fans want to meet pro players.

Above: E-sports fans want to meet pro players.

Image Credit: Eventbrite

“It’s about being there live and connecting directly with your friends,” said Christine Bohle, head of consumer partnerships at Eventbrite, in an interview with GamesBeat. “They connect with people they have met or played online. It’s about the ability to do that in real life, instead of doing it by instant message or email.”

About 52 percent said they went to live events to meet the pro players, and 46 percent said they attended so they could become better players. 67 percent want more events, more often, and 40 percent want live events outside major cities.

The survey queried 40,000 people who attended e-sports events, and Eventbrite received 1,500 responses. The result was some interesting insights into the cultural and business impact of e-sports.

Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents said that after attending an e-sports event, they are more likely to purchase new content related to the game played. And 78 percent of e-sports event attendees said they were likely to purchase in-game content in a title within a week after attending an event. 38 percent said they are likely to buy products and services they saw being showcased at an e-sports tournament. Three out of four said they play more frequently online after watching in person.

The reasons why e-sports players attend events.

Above: The reasons why e-sports players attend events.

Image Credit: Eventbrite

54 percent of respondents said they also attend LAN (local area network) parties, local gatherings of gamers, and local area meetups. The e-sports event attendees also attend other types of events. 72 percent said they attend fandom events. The most popular non-gaming events include conventions for comic books (65 percent), anime (38 percent), sci-fi (27 percent), and specialty/niche interest (25 percent) cons.

The survey revealed some other insights about fans. More than half (54 percent) said they watch traditional sports, and, of those, 10 percent watch an average of 10 or more hours a week of traditional sports per week.

When asked what would make e-sports more engaging, 43 percent said they wanted ticketed access to professional player team meet-and-greet sessions. About 31 percent wanted musical performances, and 22 percent wanted organized cosplay and cosplay competitions (where players dress up as their favorite game characters). 41 percent of gamers were willing to pay up to $49. 18 percent were willing to pay $99. And 19 percent were willing to pay up to $200.

Buying preferences of e-sports fans

Above: Buying preferences of e-sports fans

Image Credit: Eventbrite

The ultimate question: Are they geeks? Well, you can judge. The study confirmed that e-sports event attendees are predominantly male (82 percent). About 67 percent play games for more than three hours a day, and more than one-third (38 percent) watch over ten hours of gameplay each week. About 70 percent are ages 18 to 29, and only 5 percent were over 40. About 45 percent of all were college students. Among the college students, 34 percent studied computer science, 13 percent studied sciences and medicine, and 11 percent were in engineering. Only 8 percent were in business and accounting. About 52 percent were in the U.S. and 45 percent were in Europe.

The most popular events among hardcore gamers were multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, but 39 percent of casual gamers preferred collectible cards, and 41 percent of casual gamers preferred action/adventure titles.

Eventbrite is a good source of the data because it has processed more than 200 million tickets since 2006. Eventbrite has logged more than 4,800 e-sports events of all kinds to date, including 2,000 events in 2014.

“Gamers will always connect with each other online, but there is absolutely no substitute for being at a live event, surrounded by other fans who share your passions, interests and the thrill of seeing players and teams perform at the highest level,” Bohle said.

Favorite e-sports games for different classes of fans.

Above: Favorite e-sports games for different classes of fans.

Image Credit: Eventbrite