Mackenzie’s Musings: On your marks, get set, GAME!
What defines a sport? Is it a matter of physical fitness, the competitive atmosphere, or a mixture of the two? Gaming has never really been regarded as a sport by the media, and it certainly doesn’t look like it will feature in the Olympics. Yet huge gaming tournaments happen all year round, and competitors can become celebrities within gaming communities, so why has the transition into the mainstream sports world never happened? Let’s muse, shall we?
The big question we should ask is, if gaming isn’t already a sport, why shouldn’t it be regarded as one? Gaming is incredibly popular with younger generations. Gamers are stereotypically seen as people from around the 13 year old mark up until their thirties. This is the same with pretty much any sport, you start at a young age and eventually get good enough to compete and hopefully win. In this aspect gaming does resemble a sport, but the main problem gaming faces is that many people don’t want to play it as a sport. It’s a device for winding down or venting some frustration, so many people don’t want to have to use it constantly in order to get to competitive level. Even for those who do get involved with tournaments the level of skill is so high that only a very small percentage are able to make a name for themselves. Another hindering factor may be the ‘nerdy’ (eurgh) stigma that is so often associated with serious gaming.
There’s no denying people can make money from gaming competitively, sometimes as much as tens of thousands of pounds. In places such as South Korea gaming has given rise to some national celebrities. In the western world gaming isn’t as widely talked about in the mainstream media (unless it’s ranting on about violent games or something usually ridiculous like that), so a lot of people don’t know about large gaming tournaments.
The film ‘Gamer’ starring Gerard Butler shows an almost post-apocalyptic world where people can pay to play as a real human in a first person shooter format. Each shot can kill and the game is regarded as the most hardcore thing around. Gerard Butler’s character has risen to celebrity status and everyone seems oblivious that people are actually dying. Maybe this gives us a peek into how people imagine the world if gaming was celebrated as a global sport. In turn this may discourage people further to accept gaming as a sport.
Many frequent gamers may be familiar with Major League Gaming. MLG is the largest professional video game league in the world and offer up and coming professional gamers the opportunity to get big in the world of gaming tournaments. What is most interesting is that MLG describes its target audience as ‘40 million consumers in North America who have a passion for playing video games as a competitive social activity’. The fan base of such a large gaming league is undeniably huge, certainly worthy of sports status.
Will we ever see gaming in the Olympics? Well who knows? I hope so but it seems rather unlikely. The amount of people willing to sit and watch people play a virtual sport or first person shooter probably don’t reach Olympic standard. The amount of practise most major league gamers have to undergo is certainly Olympic worthy though, along with the skill required. For now I think gaming will have to stay a ‘competitive social activity’. Some of the more hardcore gamers may not even want it to reach the sporting spotlight, they much prefer the almost ‘underground’ feel to competitive gaming.
As gaming becomes more and more a part of modern society we may see a shift into the sporting limelight. With advances in technology gaming may find it’s niche in the mainstream sport world. For those currently involved in competitive gaming then it may already be a sport, but I believe the rest of the world is yet to pick up on this.
What do you think? So you consider gaming a sport? If not why not? Leave your comments below!