A debate has been raging across the globe in recent years as to the nature of video games. Do we include them as sports? Or are they really just the waste of time parents everywhere declare? Video gaming is a world-wide phenomenon and you are pressed to find a person under thirty walking down a city street that hasn’t at least watched a friend play a game if they haven’t themselves. Leagues and tournaments are found world-wide for everyone from the casual player to the professional gamer. Still, video games are still largely unrecognized as an official sport. And why should they be, you may be asking. What right do video games have to consider themselves a sport on the same level as those found in the Olympics?
Funny you should ask, because prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing there was a call for video game tournaments to be included in the list of sports competed in and covered by this most iconic of competitions. As we know they weren’t included, but then again the Olympics are slow to change as it is, snowboarding only being considered worthy of inclusion in the past few decades.
The truth of the matter is that there are many people spread throughout the world who make their income solely by participating in various gaming tournaments on both the national and international level. Professional gamers are sponsored by various companies involved with technology, video games, and innovation. They fly to events, are known by name to fans and followers of the biggest Tournaments and Leagues. Teams have T-Shirts. Winners of competitions can bring home six digit checks that many people only sit back and dream about. Yes, they may not physically look like the image of an athlete is ingrained in our minds since birth, but they have all the mentality, discipline, and long hours of training. They are the top in their field, the best of the best, better than most people could be in their wildest dreams.
Like all athletes, professional gamers compete at various events throughout the year. Tournaments aren’t a new thing. In fact, they’ve been around for decades. Many games that a casual gamer would say are great games in their own right but are beginning to look old are still being played and trained for every day. Not only is Diablo 2 still a standard tournament game but the original Diablo can also be found on the gaming floor, expert players still showing the world how it’s really done. These tournaments are held all over the globe and receive a wide range of coverage. Of course tournaments are covered on fan pages, league websites, and forums. But many people just assume that the coverage ends there. Well, it doesn’t. Results of e-sports tournaments can be found in major news sources worldwide in both print and on the screen. Television stations have also broadcast e-sports, such as ESPN did several years ago to the joy of some and chagrin of others. Tournaments can also be regularly found at conventions such as Comic Con, as well as others, being major focal points that draw in many fans of their own.
So we have professionals at professional venues racking in some real cash. But you can’t have a video game tournament with video games. Ironically, this is often the part that people have the most trouble accepting. Video games are something that many people feel are unnecessary and draw attention away from things that really matter in life – nothing that can be considered a wholesome pastime let alone a sport. But video games are used to be shunted to the side, just as many other sports still are today. It took many years for snowboarding to be considered an Olympic sport, but once it did it became one of the most popular events by viewers everywhere. Skateboarding has also long had a bad reputation for no real reason and many still look down on it. BMX is also somewhat shunted to the side in the way of professional sports. But at the end of the day when push comes to shove they are still sports that take love and long hours to master. Surely more time than tug of war, yet for some reason that grade school activity is considered a sport. But video games are still overlooked by many, not being given the title they deserve.
As years go by many of the games that professional gamers play do not fade into oblivion or change in any major ways. They are added to of course, but only after careful consideration. Only the best games are played in tournaments. Diablo and Diablo II, long standing games found in tournaments, are old, graphics outdated. But they remain two of the best games made to date. Warcraft III is another which isn’t any spring chicken but hasn’t lost its edge in the competitive world. StarCraft and Halo are two newer titles that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. League of Legends, Counter-Strike and Street Fighter are other examples of major titles. All of these games range in type, though several core skills are needed – namely tactics and precision – which link all of these games together into a more cohesive unit.
Video games are sports and should be considered such. To achieve maximum results takes much time and conscience effort, not the random clicking of buttons as some would believe. Tournaments pit the best players from around the world head to head in a survival of the fittest. Only one can come out on top. Only one can take home the prize. Only one is remembered by fans long after the event is over. If video games can have professional players whose sole income is based on how well they play not just by themselves but against other professions, all of whom are backed by big name figures and companies who have an investment in the individual and the game and thousands of fan that attend these events, how can video games bot be considered sports?