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The AP makes it official: it’s ‘esports.’ Why does that matter?

It’s all part of esports’ ongoing mainstreaming

Valve Corp.
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The next edition of the Associated Press Stylebook will change the entry for esports. No longer will it be eSports. You might wonder why the hell this would make any difference to anyone.

It doesn't, really, except people judge the crap out of others for how they use the language. (See "would of," and "use to.”) I'd argue that we are a text-based society more than ever in the way we express ourselves over comments, in Twitter, instant messages and the like. Bad usage online will get you attacked by someone who doesn't care for your point as much as the point itself will.

Indeed, the change was said by AP editors at this weekend’s American Copy Editors Society meeting to be not an easy decision.

It shows that esports is now a common noun, meaning part of our common conversation. For years, internet was uppercased, and so was website. Last year's edition of the AP Stylebook finally lowercased it, partly because the Webster's New World College Dictionary, the AP's official source, made the change too. Same went for web and related words like webpage and website.

In addition, "esports" gets an exception to the AP's rule to use a hyphen when employing the e prefix, noting something related to online life, whether commerce, signatures and the like. While this is no official explanation, I take that to mean esports is its own category of importance, not a subcategory or department of another.

In other words, it's another step in the mainstreaming of esports. It doesn't resemble the abandoned brand name of an Apple knockoff from 2000 anymore. And it also reflects the realization that esports aren't a novelty and, if anything, interest in them among AP's readership is expected to grow.

There's still one big fight looming, however. Oxford Dictionaries — note this is an online search, not the Oxford English Dictionary — still calls it e-sports, with the hyphen. This could be setting us up for another pointless grammar dispute. The fact a word is worth one says something, though.