The AP reports that the Olympic Council of Asia hosted an official esports — the official name for competitive gaming — event at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. Ten different countries were present to show that games such as Starcraft II and Hearthstone should join the ranks of swimming, gymnastics, and equestrian events at the games. Supporters point to the fact that gamers rely on strategy and super-quick reaction times to be successful at their respective games, much like athletes do when they're competing. Supporters also believe that esports would give younger viewers a reason to tune into the Olympics.
"It needs different skillsets from different people," competitor Jess Joaustine Tamboboy told The Associated Press. "It doesn't really have a physical requirement because you can see around us the players are short and tall, maybe a little bit thin, maybe a little bit fat. But all they have in order to qualify to play for these types of titles are just their cognitive or mind skills."
The International Olympic Committee has taken notice. However, it's been open about excluding what it calls "mind sports" such as chess and sporting events that rely heavily on machines, such as auto racing. The IOC points to the fact that no such sports don't actually involve physical exertion. Another reason they're shying away from esports is that many involve violence. Even though it's simulated, violence goes against the main principles of the Games, which value sportsmanship and cooperation from countries all around the world.
"We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people," IOC president Thomas Bach told the South China Morning Post. "This doesn't match with video games, which are about violence, explosions, and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line."
Proponents of esports say that they're still working to make it respectable for people outside of its fan base. Because there's no official governing body, such as soccer's FIFA or gymnastics' International Federation of Gymnastics, each competition has its own rules and regulation. Plus, games are updated all the time, making it difficult to maintain standards and practices if esports manages to earn the honor of being an Olympic sport. If the gaming community can come together and present a united front, the Olympics may just get the younger audience its been aiming for.
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