Earlier today, Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo posted an interesting article regarding the possibility that competitive gaming may be just as viable in an Olympic setting as some of the other sports included in the event. The idea of mental exertion being on par with physical exertion actually has a precedent in chess, a “mind sport” that’s been recognized by the International Olympics Committee since 2000. And although it’s never been added to an official Olympic programme, it has the backing of a huge federation of global players, much like the eSports crowd and our very own fighting game community, that want to see it in the spotlight.
Totilo took his idea to a variety of well-known names in the gaming community, including Sean “Day 9” Plott and Seth Killian, to see if it held water. While they obviously face a number of hurdles, Plott and Killian very much agree that they warrant official recognition for the physical and mental work players put into improving those skills in their respective arenas.
“In my eyes, there’s no doubt that digital gaming will at some point be part of the Olympics,” top StarCraft player Sean “Day 9” Plott told me. “Video gaming is a full medium on its own, with developers exploring new mechanics and players forming vibrant communities.”
“There can be no serious question that fighting games are a superior gauge of human competitive excellence compared to, say, the Biathlon,” fighting game expert Seth Killian, formerly of Capcom and now at Sony, told me. “It’s easy to get sidetracked by semantic questions about what is or is not a sport, but compared against many, many existing events, fighting games are more competitive by a thousand times, more nuanced, more egalitarian, and a better overall reflection of mental and physical achievement.”
“Fighting games obviously have a huge mental component,” Killian said, referencing the Street Fighters and Mortal Kombats of the world, “but while a game like chess is almost purely a mental endeavor, nearly every fighting game competition is decided by truly amazing physical execution as well, on par with the kind of technical excellence you see reflected in events like Olympic archery.”
All in all, this is a very interesting read on how athleticism can be defined in a number of very different ways. Counter-points are also offered to the scene’s long-term viability in an Olympics setting as well as how far players will even be able to explore certain games in terms of their technical “density.” The quotes pulled above are only small pieces of the article, so be sure to head over to Kotaku and check out the entire thing.
But, we would also like to hear your thoughts. Do video games warrant a nod from Olympics committee? Do you feel they deserve a spot next to events like archery and the biathlon? Feel free to let your voice be heard in the comments below.