The paper examines the development of competitive gaming in China in the past three decades. In the early years, gaming enthusiasts in China organized competitions on a voluntary basis. From the late 1990s, profit-driven gaming companies began to organize and sponsor video game competitions across the country. The past 15 years have seen the commercialization and professionalization of competitive gaming, and the development of the new concept of ‘e-sports’. E-sports draw participants and audiences from China’s rapidly expanding online gaming community. While gaming companies, live-streaming services, and online gaming platforms are making millions of dollars in profits, the booming e-sports culture has facilitated the growth of the online gaming market and contributed to the formation of a vast cohort of online gaming addicts in China. Parents, educationists, and doctors have expressed growing concern over the social and health costs of the e-sports industry. Academia, media, and the general public are becoming more cautious about the development of the e-sports industry, which mostly targets a vulnerable group made up of the country’s children, teens, and young adults.