Will eSports ever be a part of Olympic games?

Photo by jeshoots.com

Video games have long been a popular choice for recreational enjoyment. However, their popularity seems to have surpassed being a simple hobby. The fact is that our lives in the modern era seem to be influenced in some way by video games. They seem to be everywhere these days: in the news, on billboards, and on social media. In fact, it’s much more than a “hobby” today with some seeking careers that involving playing video games.

The technology involved with video games has come a long way since the first Atari games. Initially the industry seemed to be focused on children and teenagers, but this has definitely evolved in recent years with adults becoming another lucrative market. In fact, some have careers within the industry actually playing the video games they love. It used to be that video games were something one played to win. However, this has significantly broadened as more and more wish to also be spectators watching a skilled gamer playing a particular game. These gaming sessions, called Let’s Plays or LPs, stream on YouTube as well as Twitch, a streaming gaming platform. This can seem like an ideal career for gamers but it’s more than just playing games. It also involved predicting what games will be popular and continually improving upon your craft and uploading new content.

Video gaming also has provided a source of income for skilled players who delve into the professional eSports arena. Stadiums once used exclusively for traditional sporting events are now hosting electronic sports events. This is especially true in Asia where South Korea has embraced eSports with top gamers becoming household names. In 2014, more than 40,000 spectators filled the stadium once used for 2002 World Cup to watch the League of Legends world championship. The electronic sports industry  saw significant growth from 2014 and 2016 with an impressive 43% increase in audience sizes. eSports are also gaining steam in other venues around the world. In the United States, many eSports leagues are being established by those associated with traditional sports including NBA player Rick Fox as well as the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft.

The world’s top competition in sports is the Olympics. Given the rise of eSports, many have advocated for them to be added to the world event. Currently, consideration is being made to potentially see the Paris 2024 as the inaugural year for eSports. eSports are already part of the 2022 Asian Games. Of course, some have already expressed concern regarding the violent nature of some games which has led officials to assert that these titles would not be included. With a global audience of almost 320 million, this number is expected to almost double by 2020.

While the decision has yet to be officially made, the momentum for professional video gaming will no doubt help make a case for this former hobby that has now become a much wider industry.

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