Hate them or love them, video games have never been so popular. Thanks to the likes of League of Legends and Fortnite, the popularity of video games has skyrocketed in recent years, creating many eSport tournaments and competitions.
With prize pools reaching all-time highs of millions of dollars, and fans going crazy for their favorite teams and players, are video games really a sport?
For many years there has been a heated debate other whether video games should be considered a genuine sport or not. Compared to traditional sports out there like football and soccer, video games are clearly different, and many people don’t believe they should fall into the same category.
However, there is also a large group of people who think video games should be treated just like any other sport and should get the same recognition.
Before we take a look at why video games should and shouldn’t be considered a sport, let’s take a look at the many misconceptions of sports out there.
For many people out there, a sport is something that requires a considerable amount of physical exertion. When you think of a sport you probably think of ones that involve a lot of running and moving around such as football, soccer, and baseball to name a few. But there are actually plenty of other popular sports out there that don’t require a lot of physical exertion.
Around the world, there are many driving races ranging from Formula 1 to NASCAR and even rallying. Each one of these races is considered a motorsport, although none of them involves any running or high-level physical exertion.
Taking a close look at the definition, motorsport can be defined as:
“A global term used to encompass the group of competitive sporting events which involve the use of motorised vehicles”.
But racing isn’t the only sport that requires little to no physical exertion. A popular sporting event in the UK is darts, where players throw small missiles (known as darts) onto a circular dartboard. The game involves no running, heavy lifting, or physical feats, and the most physical intensive part is either throwing the darts or collecting them from the dartboard. To get an idea of what darts involves, take a quick look at the video below.
If darts and motorsports don’t convince you that not every activity needs to be physical to be considered a sport, then just take a look at the Olympics.
The Olympic Games are known for hosting a range of super competitive and physical sports such as tennis, gymnastics, boxing, swimming, karate and diving. However, there are a few sports which clearly don’t require as much physical effort.
Shooting is an Olympic sport which is held at the summer Olympics every year and has been around since the 1800’s. Compared to tennis and swimming, shooting involves standing at a target and firing an air rifle or air pistol. Obviously it's a lot harder than that in reality, but it doesn’t involve any running or cartwheels.
If shooting can be classed as an Olympic sport and competitors classed as Olympic athletes, then surely video games can be classed as a sport?
As you can see from the sports mentioned above, just because an activity doesn’t involve a lot of physical activity or exertion (such as video games) doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be classed as a sport.
Many sports that don’t necessarily look physically intensive usually involve a lot of mental thinking which believe it or not can be just as draining as physical movement.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with video games and eSports, then you must have been living under a rock for the past few years. Not only is eSports incredibly popular at the moment, but its popularity is only likely to increase in the future.
eSports, or electronic sports, is where professional competitive players compete against each other to be crowned the winning individual or team.
The term electronic sports might sound new and modern, but competitive computer gaming has been around since the 70’s when players would huggle around the arcade machine to play pong. Since the 70’s, technology has gotten better and faster, which has lead to more games, more game genres, and more competitive players.
As of today, there are countless games out there that each has a professional gaming scene where any individual or team can compete for huge prizes. One of the biggest video game competitions recently has to be the Fortnite World Cup that took place in July of 2019.
Split into duo and single matches, the total prize pool for the event was $30 million, with one 16-year-old player taking home the grand prize of $3 million.
By now, it should be clear that just because something doesn’t involve a lot of physical activity doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered a sport. To break down the main reasons why
Over the years, eSports has grown dramatically and there are now plenty of games out there that have their own eSports tournaments. Some of the biggest tournaments in the world are currently the Fortnite World Cup, League of Legends World Series, and DoTA’s The International.
Each one of these tournaments attracts millions of viewers every year with thousands of spectators filling out stadiums around the world. eSports has become so popular around the world that even traditional sports are creating their own eSports tournaments alongside their leagues and tournaments. Many sports such as F1, the Premier League and even FIFA all have their own online gaming leagues for players to compete in.
Just because video games and eSports don’t involve much physical activity, many people think they are “easy”. That’s far from the truth. To compete at such a high level against world professionals requires a lot of mental endurance and skill. While playing a game, a gamer will have to continually think about their strategy, communicate with team members, and plan their next move. With many professional games lasting between 20 - 40 minutes and most finals requiring 5 games, all of this can be very mentally challenging and draining.
If video games and eSports weren’t a sport, then why is it currently in talks to be added to the Olympic games? That’s right; currently eSports is in talks to be a demonstration game at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
But that's not all, becoming a demonstration game is just the first hurdle of becoming a permanent regular Olympic game. If eSports does end up becoming a demonstration game, then that's a big step forward for legitimating the video games in general. Of course, eSports will have to go through a lot of scrutiny and criticism before it reaches the final hurdle.
Similar to shooting a gun at the Olympics, eSports requires a lot of mechanical skill that requires refinement and practice to perfect. Unlike chess games, where most of the ability is mental and doesn’t require much physical training (moving the chess pieces on the board), eSports does require a physical skill aspect. Whether its hand-eye coordination and making sure the crosshair is on the enemy target, or being able to produce over 300 actions per minute.
Let’s face it, even with the arguments and facts above there are still some people out there that don’t think video games and eSports should be considered a sport.
At the time of writing this, according to a debate.org article, 66% of users think that video games and eSports should be considered a sport, while 34% do not agree.
From reading through the comments against video games being a sport, it’s clear users only focus on one reason: eSports are not physical enough!
One of the top comments against eSports being a sport is as follows:
“People think that a video game can be called a sport. Wow. Back, I don't know, about twenty years ago, people went outside and that was called a sport. Football is a sport, even cheerleading is a sport. Sitting in your house on your butt is not playing a sport. That is just highly offensive to sport players like myself. I play sports. You name it, I can play it. People wonder why there is childhood obesity. Because dumb people like these think that playing a video game is a sport. I mean, get real, people.”
Followed by plenty of other comments such as:
“Video gaming is NOT a sport. To play a sport you need athletic skills such as endurance, speed, strength and persistence. Playing video games consists of sitting down in front a TV screen and often killing off brain cells. Anyone can easily learn how to be good at a game, or even cheat at a game. It's harder to learn how to catch a football, skate on hockey skates or hit a home run. Video games are anything but a sport.”
Although both users are entitled to their own opinions, their arguments are poor and lacking. If you remember from the start of this article, there are plenty of sports out there that are considered legitimate, yet don’t require much physical capability. Considering shooting and equestrian are both Olympic sports, the argument of eSports not being physical enough doesn’t really work. There’s no denying that there are a lot of other sports out there that are more physical, but many people often forget the mental strain and capability required to play games at a high level. Not only does it require great hand-eye coordination, but gamers also need to be constantly thinking about their strategy and what their opponent is doing. Combine this with the average game lasting 20 - 40 minutes and players usually having to play 5 or more in one sitting, it can be extremely draining.
Do you think eSports and video games should be considered legitimate sports just like tennis and running? Let us know your views in the comments!