With gaming gaining popularity, various groups are trying to push for a place for it in the Olympics.
The five-member team needed one more kill to win an Olympic gold, all they had to do was seek out the last terrorist and kill him before he detonated the bomb. “Enemy spotted,” one of the guys shouted out to his team mates, he focused through his scope and with a headshot they had won the gold for their country.
This is the scenario you might witness a few years in the future if videogames a.k.a eSports become accepted as an Olympic event. This is not a joke, as a matter of fact, the campaign for the same started at the time of London Olympics and various groups across the world are working with Olympic associations in their countries to achieve this goal. Gaming is widely considered a past time and not as a serious sport, but these people, who are trying to get gaming into the Olympics, mean business. An online petition has already received sign ups from thousands of gamers from 139 countries. The group, ‘Torch for Gaming’ states that gaming does not discriminate on the basis of colour, creed or money; they also add that gaming is one category in which people can participate irrespective of their physical disabilities. Advocates of this campaign highlight that gaming relies on hand-eye coordination a lot like other sports at the Olympics. South Korea has the highest number of professional gamers along with US. Korean eSports tournaments featuring the game Starcraft is generally organised in big stadiums with thousands in attendance. In the US, eSports scene is more diverse as far as selection of games are concerned. Another fact that is being pointed out is the amount of money that gamers make for winning major tournaments. Recent tournaments by Blizzard and Valve after the release of new DoTA and Counter Strike games had bounties of $1 million for the winners.
As far as India is concerned there are only a couple of organisations that have been working towards the promotion of eSports in the country. One of them, Reinforcement, organises International Cyber Gaming Championship (ICGC) in India annually and the other, Xtereme Gaming, organises Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) in major cities every year. The grand finals of ICGC is currently underway in Goa and the contestants are competing against each other in various sports such as DoTA, Counter Strike, Blur and Fifa, and the winners will represent the country at the Electronic Sports World Cup.
The first step to push gaming as an Olympic sport would be to make it an exhibition sport like in Korea and one can see a step towards this goal right here in India. The finals of ICGC that is being organised in Goa is being live-streamed online. This might not sound very innovative until you realise how games were streamed online till now. One had to have a copy of the game or a service like Garena through which they could see the events of the actual match. So gamers sitting at home could watch their favourite team’s performance from any angle. Sports such as football are only now moving on to this direction of interactivity and gaming will need to take a step back and forgo this feature for mass appeal.
Whatever advantages gaming might have it needs to look at the plight of cricket which has been vying for an Olympic spot for years. There have been several attempts to include chess and Rugby in the grand games, without much success.
According to people in the industry there is a lot of interest in the senior levels to push gaming because of its increasing mass appeal, but only time will tell if such campaigns will succeed or not.