Should video gaming be included in the Olympic Games?
In the last few years, a number of people have spoken out in favor of making competitive video gaming, or e-sports as they are often called, part of the Olympic Games. In response, the International Olympic Committee, which is the governing body that runs the world’s greatest sporting event, has discussed the idea with a number of representatives of both traditional sports and e-sports.
What is it about competitive video gaming that might appeal to the Olympic authorities? To start with, e-sports are very popular internationally. Competitive gaming initially became popular in the 1990s, and it has since grown to be a $1.5 billion industry with approximately 300 million hours of professional e-sports competitions being watched worldwide each year. This means that e-sports would significantly increase the size of audiences for the Olympic Games, something which is very difficult to ignore. At the same time, the fact that so many people follow e-sports suggests that they would be a great potential source of income for the Olympic Games, which could come in the form of more ticket sales, for example.
The first modern Olympic Games in 1896 consisted of 9 sports. This figure rose to 28 by 2016 and is currently at 33. So, there are now almost four times as many sports in the Olympic Games as there were originally. People opposed to including e-sports say that the Games are already too big, so if anything, events should be removed rather than added.
Video games are, in historical terms, relatively new. Therefore, gaming fans tend to be young, and the Olympic Games need more young followers. However, the fact that e-sports have only been in existence for a relatively short period of time introduces a problem: they don’t have many standard rules and regulations. Contrast this with table tennis, for example, which has one set of rules that is used for all table tennis competitions around the world. Despite video games being relatively new, there are thousands of different ones which suit many different tastes. This creates a difficulty in terms of the Olympic Games, however: reaching agreement about which video games to include in the Olympics seems impossible.
One of the original principles of the Olympic movement was to encourage physical activity. Therefore, the most common objection to the idea of including e-sports in the Olympics is that they simply don’t do this. E-sports fans do point out, though, that professional gamers train for as long as professional athletes – which can be for up to 12 hours a day.
If e-sports were introduced into the Olympic Games, motor or electrical power would be required, which would be a completely new element for the Olympics. Opponents of e-sports say that the Olympics should continue to be about humans, not machines.
The debate is clearly far from being resolved. However, experts believe that if the e-sports industry and fans push hard enough, it is inevitable that video gaming will one day become a part of the Olympic Games.s