Will Competitive Gaming Become a Sport?
How would you feel if someone tells you that a sport doesn’t have to involve physical movements while standing up? What if I told you that sitting on a desk in front of a computer playing games can be considered as a sport? Competitive gaming will become a sport with the advancement of technology; though time plays a factor, the Olympic Committee will soon recognize gaming as a sport that involves physical exertion. As time goes on, there will be more advancement in technology which means there will be more games released that involve full body movements. I believe competitive gamers should speak out and let their voices be heard. Let people know what you do to prepare for tournaments, let people know how competitive gaming can actually be a sport with the intensive training that you go through.
When you think of an Olympic sport, you think of a big stadium crowded with millions of people watching. Whereas for gaming, you think of someone sitting at home behind a monitor yelling at their screen. Michael Phelps, an Olympic athlete who is widely respected throughout the world for his successful swimming career, recognizes the dedication it takes to become a professional gamer and respects the sport.” During the Game Awards 2016, Phelps said “There’s absolutely no question to me the level of skill, training and devotion it requires to become a professional gamer. Tonight, I’m here to pay tribute to five fellow athletes who have demonstrated incredible performance in 2016” (Phelps 2016). In contrast to a regular sport, Phelps believe that competitive gaming training is the same as any Olympic sport, if not harder. There are a lot of support for professional gamers even the NFL supports gamers! For example, NFL punter, Chris Kluwe is a big fan of League of Legends, he is a known activism for gaming and loves every aspect of Esports. Kluwe explains the major similarity in which Esports and an actual sport have in common and that they are actually very easy to accomplish. For football, you just need a football. For soccer, you just need a soccer ball. Whereas for gaming, you just need a half decent computer and download the game. Gaming is something that is very easy and can be easily pursued as a competitive game.
Not only does NFL players support competitive gaming but also NBA players. NBA player, Gordon Hayward visited a professional gaming house, Curse and met with his fan “Voyboy.” Curse is a pro gaming team in which Voyboy is currently in. Hayward explains how competitive gaming and competitive sport is quite similar due to how everyone is assigned a role. As well as communication being a main part of the game, usually teams who communicate the best will be the one that succeeds. While it is clear that the strategy of the game may not be as similar to a basketball game, the amount of stress and pressure they go through it fairly similar. Voyboy, a member of Curse states “I want to do well right like huge crowd, I feel like everyone’s counting on me” (Voyboy 2014), Giving the audience something to look forward to can be one of the most exciting things ever and can be the most disappointing feeling ever. If a pro player disappoints, the audience will start to trash talk the player and tell the gamer to retire. It’s the pressure that pro players get that makes it so realistic. Hayward agrees by saying “It sucks when everybody’s watching you and you don’t play well. You kind of feel like you let everyone down” (Hayward 2014). The feeling of disappointment is what makes the similarity so great between competitive gaming and a real sport. The adrenaline rush and pressure that you get from competitive gaming is just as same as if you were playing basketball. As time goes on, millennials starts to inherit these gaming activities where they will play games with friends and compete due to being early exposed to video games. It is safe to say that real sport teams respect competitive gaming as an actual sport because of the hardcore training and dedication that they have to go through in order to be pro. As popularity grows among adults and teenagers, the gaming scene will soon expand to all regions. So far, NBA, NFL, Swimming league players all recognize competitive gaming as an actual sport. The players who play games and watch competitive games know how it’s like to be on stage with millions of people watching you over the world. Though, not all players will acknowledge competitive gaming as an Olympic sport, they can acknowledge it as a regular sport. But, I believe that as technology bypasses certain obstacles, more body intensive activities can be involved in professional gaming.
While reading this essay, it is clear that my stance on competitive gaming on being an actual Olympic sport is set. I strongly believe that competitive gaming is on the road to becoming an actual sport due to the popularity of videogames in general. Like what NFL player Chris Kluwe says “As kids grow up who are comfortable with video games, who’ve grown up playing video games and understand that this is a socially acceptable thing to do. Those kids then become young adults then become old adults and that’s how the world changes. That’s why I think Esports is going to be a very legitimate sport scene in the upcoming years” (Kluwe 2013). As popularity grows within the Esport scene, more people are getting involved in gaming. Some people are starting to broadcast their games, people are making videos and some people are actually going pro. Although critics may argue that competitive gaming has no way to prevent cheating, it is actually very similar to other competitive sports in the enforcement of rules. For example, in football, you can cheat in a game by using a deflated ball for better grip. In gaming, players can intentionally lose to gain money through betting on which team will win the tournament. During the AFC championship game, the Patriots were said to have deflated the football for an upper advantage. In result, Patriot’s head coach Belichick was fined $500,00 while the team was fined $250,000. In result, they lost a first round pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Whereas in gaming, there are websites you can bet on teams when they play in tournaments. In 2014, there was a case of match-fixing during the Counter-Strike tournament in 2014, in which the iBUYPOWER team lost intentionally to profit from illegal betting. Match fixing is where a team plays a game knowing the result in the end. iBUYPOWER bet on the opposite team knowing that they will intentionally lose which resulted in them winning big money because they already know the result. In result, all the players on iBUYPOWER got banned. Nevertheless, these sport controversies show how cheating can be involved in both gaming and football. It is possible to cheat and be fined a lot and there are still current topics on professional gamers cheating and professional sport teams cheating.
The question that we all want to hear is, when will it happen? What steps can we take to make sure gaming becomes an actual Olympic sport? In order for the Olympic board committee to recognize us, popularity has to come in play. Not only do we need NFL or NBA players to talk about gaming but we need schools to recognize gaming as a sport! Schools need to provide scholarships for competitive gaming. We need schools to let students know that competitive gaming can be an option as a career. Giving opportunities to those who seek them are what makes something successful. With schools advertising gaming as an actual sport, it brings teenagers and adults out of their comfort zone to come out and try gaming. For those who enjoy gaming, they will spread it along their pool of friends and that is where the cycle begins. This is where friends will spread the game to other friends and this is how the cycle of popularity rises. Popularity will start to grow from one part of the region to another. Technology also plays a big part in the growth of gaming due to advance equipments like Virtuix Omni where they have machines that involve full body movement activities. As we wait for technology advancements, schools have started recognizing gaming as a sport. University of Utah will become the first big-time sports school to offer scholarships for competitive video gaming (Williams 2017). With universities starting to recognize competitive gaming, the attraction that it brings will increase the popularity of gaming. Which is why games have such a huge fan base, because of constant recognition, players are getting the fame that they deserve.
There is a lot of discussion whether or not gaming can be a sustainable career or can you even make a living out of gaming? Truthfully speaking, as virtual reality slowly creeps up onto the platform of gaming, there will be new exciting content for games. There will be tournaments hosted that involve gaming due to new gear like the virtual reality headsets which will have an increase in the number of people interested in gaming. As for salaries and pay rate, gamers actually get a lot of money compared to what people would assume that they get. Nadeshot who is a Call of Duty star is one of the most reputable players that play on a console. Nadeshot is said to gain around $700,000 from streaming his games online as well as uploading videos on YouTube. But, that doesn’t include sponsorships from gaming companies or his prize winnings from tournaments. If it were all included, he would be making well over a million a year. There are many pro players like Nadeshot who make well over hundreds of thousands a year just from streaming their games or uploading them on YouTube. With just streaming it or uploading, you can already make a couple of thousand dollars a month. For those who say salary can’t keep up with the players are wrong. Due to the many forms of making money, professional players have many ways to earn money without having to play on stage.
Despite of all the agreements and disagreements, gaming is definitely on the road to becoming a sport due to the vast popularity that gaming has on the community. With popularity constantly increasing, more games are being released and more content is being displayed. People are starting to see how games evolves through the use of having tournaments and the large prize pool that are given to the winners. While popularity is increasing, technology is slowly advancing in which virtual reality companies like Virtuix Omni are developing more ways to involve the players into doing full body movements. Sport can ultimately be defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment” (Harper 2010). With companies like Virtuix Omni, their machine “Omni” lets the players walk, run, sit and turn. This involves full body movement which fits the definition of a sport because you can play this in first person shooter games in which you compete against one another. Which is why I say that time plays a factor in the future of gaming. I will leave you with something to think about. Could you imagine just how far technology can bring the reputation of games and how inventions like Virtuix Omni are already changing the face of gaming? Do you think in a few years, games will be a completely full body movement activity?
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