by Graham Pierrepoint
There have been hundreds of different sports that have been added to the legendary Olympic roster over the years – these largely get added with each host nation, such as beach volleyball making its entrance in the Atlanta Games in 1996 – and while one or two have been fairly left-of-field compared to what could be considered standard sporting fare, it seems that we really haven’t seen anything yet. Last month, ahead of planning for the potential 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, it appeared that the bid committee were potentially open to allowing competitive videogames – otherwise known as eSports – into the main roster of the games.
Videogames have, of course, always been placed in a different league to physical sports and activities – but their worth in society and their positive effects on our brains have largely been backed up by multitudes of studies. In addition to this, the International Olympic Committee did not immediately rule out any chance of eSports making their debut – meaning that if you’re an ace at FIFA but can’t kick a soccer ball to save your life, you could well stand a chance at becoming a gold medallist in the years to come.
IOC President Thomas Bach, however, seems to have put something of a dampener on proceedings – advising that video games are ‘about violence, explosions and killing’ – and that the IOC wants to ‘promote non-discrimination, non-violence and peace among people’. The generalization here will no doubt trigger many gamers – if you’re playing Candy Crush Saga, you’re a video gamer to some degree – though many eSports games are considered perhaps too violent for the IOC to consider bringing to the table for medals.
It’s not the first time that gaming has been seen as a competitive sport – there has been a thriving competitive scene for PC strategy game StarCraft in South Korea for many years now – and Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros for Wii U was regarded as a return to form for the franchise which saw considerable growth in competitive play worldwide. An earlier game in the franchise, Super Smash Bros Melee, is still played competitively, too. Could this mean that video games become even more competitive in future – particularly as they have never been more mainstream? Let’s wait and see – while the IOC is remaining rather frosty regarding plans for Olympic status right now, the world could change plenty by 2024.