If children got a penny for every time their parents sneered “had video games been an Olympic sport, my son/daughter would have got gold”, they would all be rich. But then again not all of us—by us, I mean the Nintendo and Game Boy generation—were lucky to be born in today’s times. While we could only dream of becoming champions playing Snake, Donkey Kong, Mario and Contra, today’s generation can actually achieve that dream in a few years. A month ago, the Asian Games Committee announced that in 2022, competitive gaming, a fancy term for video-games or e-sports, will be a medal sport. Alongside, 100-meter sprint, weightlifting, marathons and cycling, one would also be able to witness a team of players hooked onto their systems, as the world watches them play an online multi-player game. The notion may seem too absurd to some, but online gaming arenas with people watching others complete levels of games on screen—the experience is much like going to a movie theatre—is nothing new. In fact, video-game concerts are an ‘in’ thing, with people turning up across the world to watch others play online games.Tencent, China’s largest online games developer and creator of League of Legends, last month announced that it would create an e-sports town in the city of Wuhu. The town is expected to have gaming arenas where people can go and watch their champions practice and play games with teams across the world. Although hosted in select e-sports arenas (like the ones in Las Vegas or Japan) or stadiums, for now, it would not be surprising if arenas start cropping up across the world.
Although hosted in select e-sports arenas (like the ones in Las Vegas or Japan) or stadiums, for now, it would not be surprising if arenas start cropping up across the world. But more important is the effect of such games on children. While studies have long indicated games having the same adrenaline rush as drugs, would it be wise to let children play for them to become a gold medallist? Some claim that, by this argument, none of the motorsports should be allowed as they are as dangerous and promote reckless behaviour on part of children. Then again, if it is to be an Olympic sport, why shouldn’t be players allowed to practice for it like in other sports? More worrisome, though is the content. Many have accused multi-player games of promoting too much violence, ultimately making an impact on children, if that is the case the sports committee would have to take the call on what is permissible and what is not.
With technology being a prime driver of today’s civilisation and innovation growing by leaps and bounds, one cannot ignore the new mediums. Much like the invention of the automobile changed the world of sports for us, we cannot now ignore gaming doing the same. More so, when we are entering the age of augmented reality, which is set to make games more interactive. Even if some of us do ignore e-sports now, we cannot keep doing so in the future.