The question is, should video games be considered a sport?
Well, what is your idea of a sport?
Is it something fun? Is it physically exhausting? Is it mentally challenging?
What is your idea of an athlete?
It is someone strong? Someone fast? Someone smart?
When you think athlete, do you think of someone like Wayne Gretzky, Tom Brady or Michael Jordan?
Famous athletes all have a couple things in common: They train for years, mentally and physically, all in an effort to play a game.
Now, what’s your idea of a game?
E-Sports is a booming industry that’s caught the attention of companies like ESPN ane even the Olympics. If you’re not familiar with the term, e-sports stands for “electronic sports” which are generally competitive multiplayer video games played for a generally large audience by professional gamers.
E-sports were made popular with such games as World Of Warcraft (PVP), Starcraft, Halo and more recently Overwatch. They’re all exciting, strategically challenging games that focus on their competitive play.
One thing that’s always stood out to me about these games and e-sports in general is the wide talent gap between casual players and competitive players.
I fancy myself a pretty good Halo player.
But just the other night I was out at The Blurry Pixel playing some Halo PVP only to get destroyed by my good friend Trevor. (He was mad because I beat him at NHL a couple of times)
But after all my hours and dedication to the game, I’m still not great.
Watch any e-sport tournament and you’ll recognize the sheer dedication and sacrifice that a lot of these professional gamers put into their craft. They’re creative and innovative in their strategies. Their execution is flawless. Even more impressive is their ability to communicate and play as a team. Watching any sort of e-sports tournament always leaves me in awe.
But are these e-sports players “athletes”?
The definition of an athlete (as found by a quick Google search), defines a sport as “a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.”
So if we were to dissect this definition of athlete there are a couple of things that pop out at me.
An athlete someone who is good in sports or an athlete is someone who is good at exercise.
Something interesting to me about the above definition is the use of sport and exercise as two separate activities. Because of this, in order to figure out if e-sport players are athletes we must figure out first if gaming is a sport.
Is Gaming A Sport?
I’ve been playing video games since before I can remember. At no point in my life have I ever considered video games a sport. I’ve always played it for the immersive experience and challenging puzzles. There’s nothing better than divining into a new video game and discovering a new world to explore.
But then again, I haven’t spent countless hours of my life perfecting a virtual craft to compete in front of thousands of people with thousands of dollars on the line.
When I think about whether a video game is a sport, a couple of things come to mind. Is poker a sport? Are poker players exerting themselves by mentally and physically during their play? How about chess? What about laser tag? What’s the difference between a game and a sport?
How many hours do professional gamers have to put in? How many blisters do they have to get on their hands? What does their heart rate have to reach? How much do they have to sweat during matches for e-sports to be considered a sport? What level of physical activity does there have to be for it to be considered a sport and not just a game?
And I think that’s the real question. What level of physical activity does there have to be for it to be considered a sport and not just a game?
Laser tag is a physically exerting activity with clear game mechanics and yet, I personally wouldn’t consider it a sport (although others may argue).
The line between sport and game is becoming thinner and thinner the more technology advances and the more competitive games get. With motion controls, the emergence of virtual reality and soon, augmented reality, at what point will technology and physical activity fully merge? At what point will games stop becoming games and start becoming sports?
And in there lies the answer to the question.
So, we set out to determine if video game should be considered a sport.
No, I don’t think gaming is a sport. No, I don’t think e-sport players are athletes. In fact, I think that the branding of competitive and professional gaming as “e-sports” was a mistake in the first place. I’m not suggesting a rebrand, I’m simply lamenting the e-sports brand.
Gamer are not athletes and it’s unfair to compare them to athletes. But the e-sports brand lumps in both gamers and athletes and the question is often asked. Simply calling it “professional gaming”. “pro gaming” or, “competitive gaming” would have sufficed and avoided the argument entirely. Let competitive gaming be it’s own thing. It’s unique, it’s beautiful and amazing all on it’s own. It doesn’t need to be compared to professional hockey or poker.
Do I think that one day, gamers could be considered athletes?
I think the emergent technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality rely on physical activity too much for their to not one day be some hybrid competitive game that finally merges gamer and athlete.
But until that day, let’s let games be games and sports be sports.