The general consensus seems to be ‘yes’, video games – or e-sports, which means competitive gaming – are a real sport. This is in spite of the fact that there are many people who think that video games don’t qualify to be categorized as a sport, like other athletic sports such as football and baseball. But what is making institutions such as schools consider video games a real sport?
Here is an overview of some aspects that make video games qualify as a sport like any other, and why they should be formally recognized as a new sport.
Sports are Competitive, and So is Gaming
Every sport is competitive. It pits two teams or individuals against each other. For instance, football involves two teams trying to best each other. The same goes for e-sports.
Most video games support multi-player, which means that gamers compete against each other. Each player tries to achieve victory by overcoming obstacles in the video game and defeating the other players’ characters as they too try to overcome obstacles in the game. Even single-player games are competitive – the player is required to overcome obstacles, some of which are complex, to achieve victory. As such, from a competitive perspective, gaming is indeed a real sport.
Video Games Have Tournaments Too
Every physical sport has a tournament. In the U.S., the biggest sport tournament is the Super Bowl, which draws in millions of fans and viewers. In Europe, and generally the rest of the world, the biggest tournament is the World Cup, which also draws in millions of fans from all over the world.
Video games have tournaments too, and they also draw millions of fans and viewers. In fact, there is always a video game tournament taking place online. There are also major tournaments which draw in fans and viewers from all over the world.
In fact, cities and varsities are building arenas where video game tournaments can be held. For instance, there is a new stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, which is entirely dedicated to hosting e-sports tournaments. There are also more stadiums dedicated to gaming in other major cities across the U.S., and you will be amazed by how technologically sophisticated they are.
Just like soccer and football, e-sports tournaments also draw in millions of viewers from across the world. According to the Wall Street Journal, e-sports tournaments drew in over 250 million fans and viewers from all over the world, most of who streamed the events online. CNN also reports that the number of e-sports fans will balloon to over 450 million come 2020, according to research conducted by research firm Newzoo. It is also estimated that young gamers spend at least three hours a day watching other gamers play on sites such as Twitch and YouTube.
Video game tournaments are raking in lots of money, just like most sports tournaments. Pro gamers compete for thousands of dollars in prizes for small online tournaments, and major tournaments offer millions of dollars in cash prizes. Tournaments also charge fans and viewers to watch, which is akin to buying a ticket to attend the Super Bowl.
Video Games, Like Sports, Can be Athletic
The main point of argument by those who oppose adopting video games are real sports is that gaming does not require any form of athleticism. This is wrong. Gaming shares two vital aspects of athleticism, which are coordination and stamina. How?
Consider a favorite sport such as football. Team members play different roles, and they all coordinate with each other to get the ball to the other team’s post. Baseball players also need coordination and timing to strike the ball or catch it. Gaming also requires coordination, especially considering how complex video games have become. Gamers need coordination to hit their targets and control their characters in a manner that will make them achieve victory. Additionally, some forms of e-sports require players to play as teams, just like most physical sports.
Gaming also requires stamina, just as sports do. Consider a sport such as soccer, whereby players have to run back and forth for 90 minutes. It is tiring, yes. Gamers mostly stay stationary and seated when gaming, so it may seem unfair to compare it to soccer. However, gamers can play for hours without taking breaks, and it is fairly tiring too. Gaming also requires stamina to keep up with the elements and obstacles of the game, which are always changing.
Gaming, Like Sports, Can be Physical
Another major argument by the naysayers for why video games should not be categorized as a sport is that athletes move around a lot while gamers are mostly seated. There is some truth to this. As mentioned, it seems unfair to compare a soccer player with a gamer. However, the truth is that gaming does indeed involve some level of physical activity, even from a gaming chair.
Some of the top games played at big tournaments require players to work a lot with their joy-sticks and other equipment required to play the game. They also move a lot, albeit they may be seated. What’s more, the integration of Virtual Reality technology and video games will make gaming more physical. Players will be able to literally enter into their games’ worlds and move around just like they do in the physical world. It is already happening, but the technology has not gone mainstream yet.
Schools are Recognizing Video Games as Sports
In spite of many people’s opinions that video games should not be recognized as sports, schools are doing it. Several states, including Georgia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Kentucky, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi, have recognized competitive gaming as a sport.
Students interested in gaming are encouraged to practice, refine their skills, and compete against each other in state-sponsored and school-sponsored tournaments pitting schools against each other. One case example is a recent tournament between North Atlanta High School and Grady High School. The tournament, which took part in Atlanta, saw two teams of six players each from both schools face off against each other. The teams were competing in the popular video game Smite.
Some schools are even offering scholarships to students with exceptional gaming skills, just as they do with regular sports such as football. Schools are seeking to fill up their e-sports teams in a bid to get ahead of tournaments, which are still fairly new. Considering that the new generation will soon take over sports, gaming will grow more and more entrenched in the mainstream sports system.
Gaming, Like Conventional Sports, is also a Serious Career Option
Athletes earn top dollar for their skills. Some of the richest people in the world are professional athletes. They get signed into contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to play. Gamers, too, are now earning enough money to rival top athletes such as Tiger Woods and LeBron James.
In 2016, an international gaming tournament in which gamers played games such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive awarded more than $20 million in cash prizes. This is more than an ordinary sports player would make in a year. For instance, it is twice the amount of prize money for the Golfing Master Tournament. Smaller tournaments also pay off a handsome penny in prizes. For instance, LoL awarded $6.7 million to two teams in a tournament held in Los Angeles.
There are more ways in which gamers make a living by gaming as a full-time job. Streaming is especially popular among gamers. Professional gamers such as PewDiePie, who often streams his gaming sessions on YouTube, was paid over $20 million last year thanks to his huge following and viewership, which runs into millions of people. Twitch is also a popular video game streaming website. The website was bought for a whopping $970 million by Amazon in 2014. It has more than 70 million viewers and billions of minutes of content.
Gaming is also going big and competing head-to-head with conventional sports. For instance, gaming will be designated as an e-sport at the 2022 Asian Games, and it will earn winners gold medals, just like other athletes. There are also talks of designating gaming as a sport for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Paris. The general consensus in the gaming world is that gaming is a sport like any other sport. What’s more, it is the most dynamic sport, considering how rapidly gaming technology is changing and getting more and more sophisticated.
So, Is Gaming Really a Sport?
The answer to that question depends on who you ask. However, considering the ongoing trend, gaming will be adopted as a sport more and more as institutions such as schools label it one. The heavy investments made in hosting tournaments, and the revenue generated by these tournaments and events, are also contributing to upping gaming to the level of a sport.
You decide. We have compared gaming and any other sport and concluded that they share many similarities. The young and future generations are also convinced that gaming is a sport. So, what do you think? Is gaming really a sport? Let us know in the comments!
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