Duncan’s Debates: Should Competitive Games Be Considered ‘Sports’?
Welcome back to another exciting edition of Duncan’s Debates, where we aim to argue about anything and everything related to games and their industry. In the last installment we looked at the somewhat controversial issue of sex in video games. This week, we’re going to be looking at an issue more related to video game semantics, namely whether or not competitive games should be considered sports.
The video game world certainly isn’t short of high-quality competitive titles — DotA, StarCraft 2 and Call of Duty (to name but a few) all bring mean and highly popular packages to the table, being represented in numerous international competitions in both the Eastern and Western world. Many bodies attempting to regulate competitive gaming have sprung up, almost all with laughable degrees of effectiveness. Top players in the various disciplines enjoy superstar status (one need only mention the name ‘MVP’ around a StarCraft fan to arouse them more than just a bit, for example), most of whom are sponsored by numerous different brands and belong to one clan or another, which in turn will also have a number of sponsors. Competitive gaming (termed ‘eSports’) enjoyed an enormous boom last year, and it looks set to keep on growing as we head further on into 2012.
Presented with such a growth, we have no option but to cry with the awesomeness of how far gaming has come. Once we’ve exhausted our tear ducts and run our Man Points dangerously low, though, we find ourselves forced to confront the issue of exactly how literally the term ‘eSports’ should be taken.
It is a question which forces us to examine exactly where we draw the line in terms of what we consider a sport to be. Is a sport defined just by having to exercise while you do it? If that’s the case, though, what of the mental and strategic aspects which exist in most sports?
What if a sport is in fact defined by its competitive nature and its scene (sponsorships, organisations, fan base, etc), and features both mental and athletic components, just to varying degrees? Could video games not then be considered a sport, just a more mentally focused and less physically focused one. If that is the case, then are eSports not just another type of sport (like watersports, for example).
Certainly we also want to associate eSports with conventional sports, so that they’re taken more seriously by the non-gaming community? After all, given how much time and effort professional eSportsmen put into plying their trade, and the enormous level at which they perform, we want them to have as respected and taken as seriously as possible – not just for their sake, but so that the scene can grow, to encourage more sponsorships and so on and so forth.
So, can eSports be considered sports? Ultimately, it is only for you, the faithful and opinionated readers of eGamer to say. Let us know in the comments below!