The Olympics encourages those who are passionate about sport and fitness to come together and experience the achievements of the world’s best athletes. The upcoming Olympic Games in Rio will have 42 events in which people can compete. Is there, however, room for one more in years to come? Chester King, the Chief Marketing Officer of the International eGames Group, is one of the people campaigning for eSports to join the Olympic Games.
"I think eSports desperately want to be perceived as a sport and there is lots of regulation around that," he says. "We just want to make sure the mainstream media realise eSports is not a bad thing – it is a positive thing, and an alternative to watching other real or mainstream sports."
The 2016 Rio Olympic Games will debut a brand new eGames tournament, with the actual competition due to take place in two years time. Gaming requires a certain amount of skill, agility and brain power, and its competitive nature certainly makes it a worthy admission.
Should eSports be considered an Olympic event? Let’s hear from each side.
1. They can improve cognitive health.
It can be argued that eSports are beneficial in improving the player’s cognitive health. According to a study released in 2013, gaming has a role in stimulating neurogenesis and allows “collectivity spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning, as well as, fine motor skills.” The experiment encouraged testers to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes every day for two months. By the end of the experiment, the participants had an increase in grey matter. Professional gamers are required to have a certain level of training, thus encouraging a prolonged amount of play and therefore improving their cognitive state. In addition to this, there can also be a positive impact on the mental health of gamers, however, this is a huge debate in itself so we’ll leave that for another article.
2. They are entertaining.
The online gaming community has grown over the past few years. Content creators make videos of themselves playing the game, while also engaging with the viewer. It has also allowed viewers give creators their opinions and strategies on the games. It is an engaging experience for all. As an Olympic event, viewers will still be able to watch gamers play just like any ordinary athlete, however the graphic elements will also be in view. This will provide a unique and exciting experience, different from the other sports in the Games.
3. It will give players the recognition they deserve.
One of the main objectives of the Olympic Games is to give athletes some recognition for their years of hard work. It is believed that gamers also deserve the same recognition for their hours of training, as well as something to work towards. For many people, gaming is so much more than just a pastime; it is something they are truly passionate about. It allows the gaming community to come together and share their passion with each other, as well as enthusiastic fans. This is something that should be celebrated on a huge scale.
1. There is concern over the violence in eSports.
King has addressed a huge concern about shedding a positive light on eSports, particular those that include violence. “There is a slight sensitivity about having first-person shooter games because if we are announcing it to the mainstream world we don’t really want everyone to think it is about killing objects.” The violent nature of many video games, including Call Of Duty and World Of Warcraft, has been criticised for many years due to the impact it can have on children. Bringing this into the Olympics will have huge implications for parents who may be weary about the use of violence and the influence it can have on young sports fans.
2. Gaming can quickly lose it’s credibility as a sport.
This point also invites the idea of misrepresentation of gaming, which is also a huge concern for gamers. Journalist for the International Business Times UK, Edward Smith, wrote about his thoughts on eSports becoming an Olympic event. “I'd never go so far as to crown video games as art, but they're certainly different from sport. And to fashion them into a global, competitive tournament would, I think, undermine and misrepresent the myriad non-mechanical qualities that videogames own,” he says. If there is a bigger focus on the technological aspects than the physical skills required, spectators are bound to underestimate its credibility as a sport. Without an enthusiastic fanbase, it is unlikely that it will survive as a regular event in the Games.
3. Drug use to enhance performance may become an issue.
Finally, we have a concern that affects all sports. Gaming is not immune to the encouragement of drug use. It has been reported in the past that players have taken drugs, such as Ritalin, to enhance their overall performance, while others have used other substances, such as Speed, Ecstasy and Weed, to help them calm down while playing in front of spectators. This is unfair and unacceptable in any sport on a competitive level. Gaming is no exception.
We all have a different opinion on the subject intertwined with different reasons for our beliefs. With the changing trends in sport, there is always a possibility for eSports to officially join the Olympics. In the meantime, it is important for us to address any and all concerns on the matter to ensure both sides are given a fair amount of consideration.
WORDS BY JESSICA TESTA