When 2024 Olympic Games organisers Paris, France suggested that eSports might be part of the line up, gamers around the world sat up and paid attention. Could it be that our favorite pastime qualifies as an Olympic sports? And which games truly embody the Olympic spirit?
The popularity of eSports is growing rapidly and the Olympic committee is taking notice. The biggest sports event in the world is constantly looking to add new sports to stay relevant for sponsors and viewers. So with a revenue of $440 million last year (and expected to grow to a cool billion dollars in two years time) and viewership of over 300 million eSports is an interesting prospect.
But the president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said in an interview that it may not involve eSports’ most popular games. “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people. This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line.”
Does that mean no Overwatch? No Fortnite? League of Legends, Starcraft, Dota 2, Counter-Strike? Or any game that involves some sort of onscreen violent behavior towards human-like characters? But what would be acceptable? Games resembling sports that are played in real life, such as football (soccer) or basketball? But these games don’t draw in the huge numbers of spectators and including only these would be missing a big point about eSports.
In an attempt to draw the International Olympic Committee (IOC) closer to the world of competitive gaming, the Olympic Esports Forum was held in Switzerland. All the key eSports stakeholders were there, including Blizzard Entertainment, Epic Games, Riot Games and the ESL (Electronic Sports League). After two days of talks, panels and discussions the IOC announced plans to form an Esports Liaison Group in order to keep exploring the options.
Will eSports make it to the 2024 Olympic Games? It seems highly unlikely, but who says eSports-organisations can’t start their own global sports event? And call it the eLympics…
Check out the talks, discussions and panels at the Olympic Esports Forum.