Fact

eSports (video games as a sport) can be considered "real" sports.

Are eSports Real Sports?

eSports can be considered “real sports” by definition, much in the same way chess or poker can be. There are many parallels between traditional athletic sports and eSports. However, the virtual environment and lack of physical activity call into question whether we can truly define eSports as “real sports” without any qualifiers (for instance eSports could be considered “mind sports“).

The debate over whether an eSports are “real” sports or not is ongoing and somewhat semantic, with that in mind, we explore the ways in which eSports are and aren’t like more traditional athletic competitive sports and other mind sports below.

What are eSports? eSports are electronic sports, or video gaming as a sport. A specific game played for sport would be an “eSport” (singular). Learn more about what eSports are here.

The first rule of eSports… It’s “don’t cheat” actually. Anyway, this video is exploring the question “are eSports real sports?”

What Makes something a Sport? If it has anything to do with ESPN, then poker and eSports are most certainly sports.

The Definition of Sports?

After looking at many different definitions of the word sport, an eSport can barely slip through the cracks as a sport. Like poker and chess, eSports are mind-based sports with limited physical activity. Some definitions use words like “usually” and “or” when talking about physical activity involved, which makes the case that sports don’t always need to be physical athletic activity.[1][2][3]

Vice explores: The Celebrity Millionaires of Competitive Gaming (Full Length). A look at the all-stars of eSports.

OPINION: As VR and AR evolve, virtual sports will become much more advanced. At some point, it’s likely that eSports will be considered true sports, perhaps with their own subcategory of virtual sports.

TIP: If you look at the Wikipedia “list of World Championships in Mind Sports” you can see that games like Go, Shogi, Chess, Poker, Pokemon, and eSports all fall under the same category of “mind sports that have official world championships.”

The Olympics on eSports

After eSports were broadcast nationwide on ESPN at this year’s X-Games, the chances of eSports becoming Olympic sports increased. It’s theorized that eSports could be an Olympic Sport as early as the 2020 summer games.[12]

There are 5 main categories and 35 criteria used when evaluating whether the addition of a new sport will be added to the Olympics:

  • Olympic Proposal (Resources Needed)
  • Value Added to the Olympic Movement
  • Institutional Matters (Rules)
  • How Popular it is
  • The business model behind it

The IOC Executive Board approved this in June 2015. None of the 35 benchmarks needed to qualify as an Olympic sport have anything to do with physical activity.[13]

Are eSports real sports

eSports require hand-eye coordination and quick fine motor skills.

Are eSports Players Considered Athletes?

According to the US Federal Government eSports players are considered professional athletes, in the regard that they can get a VISA to come to the US for the purposes of participating in eSports competitions. This has been true since 2013. It is a P1 VISA for gamers who are internationally recognized, it allows for up to a 5 year stay. Get that story from Forbes or the details from VisaPro.

What Skills do eSports Athletes Need?

Much like professional athletes, gamers spend large amounts of time developing new skills that will help them compete in their games. The core rules of a game don’t change often, but the dynamics change often as new characters and environments are added, or old ones are “balanced”.

Out of game, players are constantly going through different scenarios that may come up in a game and calculating their reactions. Preparation can only take you so far, gamers also need to have very fast reaction times and a brain that can keep up with the pace of the action.

FACT: Professional StarCraft players are able to do over 300 actions per minute during a match.[6]

Sports Training in eSports

In early 2012, Robert Yip, an eSports psychologist with a background in coaching sports, physical training, and a master’s degree to back it up, was hired by Team Liquid to work with pro-StarCraft II player, Dario “TLO” Wünsch. They worked on things like:[8]

  • Eating Healthier
  • Sleeping Enough
  • Doing things away from the game that help in the game (yoga, physiotherapy)
  • Made players practice differently
  • Better prepared them for high stake games

More recently the DOTA-2 team Ninjas in Pyjamas hired a master graduate in Sports and Science to help players control their mental state at events. He also coached players on different ways to deal with struggles during the game that related to their mental state, like not getting tripped up by other players “smack talk”.[10]

How are eSports Watched?

Nearly every big eSports tournament is streamed free to twitch.tv; a website providing a social video streaming platform for streamers. Twitch allows people to watch their favorite team or individual player while chatting with other spectators. Some people watch for pure entertainment; others watch to learn from the best and apply that knowledge to their own games.

FACT: As of 2016 Twitch.tv has over 100 million viewers per month. Viewership is increasing, not diminishing as time goes on.[7]

How is the Viewership?

A major role of professional sports is to create an atmosphere in which fans can be avid supporters of their favorite team. eSports have proved that its following is huge. In 2013, League of Legends brought in the 2nd highest amount of views in a single event with (27 million) viewers, beating out every sporting event except for the Super Bowl.[11]

Fans don’t just watch online, popular eSports events have sold out huge arenas such as the Staples Center, Wembley Arena, and even the Sang-am World Cup Stadium.

Do eSports Bring in Money?

When eSports first started the money just wasn’t there. Companies were hosting tournaments inside lobbies of hotels, and the payout was just a couple thousand dollars. As eSports started to grow, so did the money. In August of 2015, the DOTA-2 International tournament was played over 5 days, and the prize pool was $18,429,613, [4] which would make it the 4th highest prize pool in sports history, beating out the Super Bowl and The World Series![5]

Can you Wager on eSports?

Gambling is a huge part of why eSports are becoming so popular, and there are a number of different websites that you can use to bet on the teams. There are two ways to gamble in eSports; the spectator can either gamble with their in-game purchases (weapon skins, champion skins etc.) to make their character look aesthetically pleasing, or they can gamble with real money.

How Famous can an eSports Player be?

Unlike most athletes, who get their fame from being on television constantly, many professional gamers have become very good at marketing themselves as a brand. Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag for example, a retired Call of Duty pro, started by making YouTube videos in 2010, now has 2.3 million subscribers and 1.4 million twitter followers and is considered to be a Red Bull athlete. Not only that but Matt has been in multiple big name articles such as the NY Times, Business Insider and many more.

FACT: In 2015, at 16 years old DOTA-2 player Sumail Hassan Syed became the youngest gamer to win over $1,000,000 in earnings.[9]

Life of an eSports Athlete

The typical stereotype that all gamers live in their parent’s basement is false, at least for most eSports teams. Organizations are investing more and more into “team houses” where the entire team can live and play under one roof. The main goal of these team houses is to increase team chemistry by turning teammates into real life friends, because out of game relationships within the team directly affect how they play in big moments.



Conclusion

It is reasonable to conclude that eSports are sports in the same way poker, chess, or Magic the Gathering are. Thus, eSports can at least be considered “mind sports” from this perspective.

That said, while it is easy to see how eSports meet the definition of mind sports, it’s perhaps too early to tell if eSports will be accepted as a true competitive athletic sport, despite the many parallels. It’s likely that, as eSports become more popular and technology evolves, virtual sports will play a more prominent role in society. As that happens, it’s likely people will come to agree on the proper label.


References

      1. sport“. Oxforddictionaries.com
      2. sport“. Dictionary.reference.com
      3. Sport“. Wikipedia.org
      4. Overview“. Dota2.com
      5. The Ten Richest Sporting Events In The World“. Forbes.com
      6. Is computer gaming really sport?” Bbc.co
      7. About“. Twitch.tv
      8. Mind game: How eSports psychology can help you win“. Redbull.com
      9. Youngest gamer to earn $1 million in eSports winnings“. Guinnessworldrecords.com
      10. The Sports Psychologist in eSports“. Esportsify.com
      11. eSports in numbers: Five mind-blowing stats“. Redbull.com
      12. League Of Legends And StarCraft II Could Become Olympic Sports As Early As 2020 Summer Games“. Forbes.com
      13. Olympic Programme Commission“. Olympic.org
      14. WMSF“. worldmindsportsfederation.com


"eSports are Real Sports" is tagged with: eSports, Gambling, Role Playing Games, Virtual Reality


Vote Fact or Myth: "eSports are Real Sports"

Your Vote: {{ voteModel || 'no vote' | uppercase }}

fsiyan on

absolutely is.

Nate on

Whats your elo rating you loser pleb rawr xd squeaker.

Michael on

Not a real sport and never will be

ethan mao on

not a sport

John on

Esports are a real sport and only stubborn idiots think that it isn’t. Why would you say poker is a sport, but video games aren’t

Leon on

Esports require skill, but it has to develop in another way. Instead of weight rooms, they run scenarios, instead of studying film, they make game plans and strategies. They even love under the same roof for the sake of team chemistry.

Matthew Jackson on

I agree but they study lots of film of themselves to cut out mistakes and of opposites to see strats and what they do a lot and what there weaknesses are

Fan of eSports on

It is an eSport, not a sport. Nothing wrong with that. Doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Doesn’t make it less exciting. I like eSports, but don’t need to call it a Sport.

The definition of Sport includes “physical exertion”. The definition of an athlete is someone who is “proficient at sports”. Arguing that video games require lots of preparation and skill doesn’t make it a sport, and players are not athletes. A graphic designer requires lots of time in preparation to hone their skills, but they are not athletes and they are not playing sports when designing a logo.

Don’t ignore the definition of a word. You can create new words to fit new paradigms. eSports is just fine.

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

Valid argument, we ultimately looked to mindsports for our conclusion (thus the “physical exertion” requisite took a back seat). //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_sport

That said, all viewpoints are welcome, the subject is obviously contentious and somewhat semantic.

Khoa Nguyen on

It is a sport, I can argue on and on but for short, chess and poker used the same skill, same practice and considered sport, why can gaming be one??

Rnernd on
Supports this as a Fact.

The correct definition of physical exertion exists as the use of two or more muscles, and after consulting with a medical professional to confirm this almost every video game requires two or more muscles even if there is not much physical exertion the criteria only requires it to exist.

Thomas DeMichele
Thomas DeMichele on

Interesting. Good find.

Thomas Barton on

If eSports are “real” sports, then let’s compare some of these gamers to some profesional athletes. Let’s see if Zachary Scuderi can beat Josh Donaldson or Patrice Bergeron in any athletic test. And if you’re going to try to make the argument of “oh well let’s see who’s smarter”, nice try but I bet real athletes are smarter in a lot of ways. Being able to press a few buttons doesn’t make you athletic, or smart. I’m sure you do need skill, and I would probably suck if I played video games, but skill alone isn’t enough to call it a sport. I also don’t consider Poker or Chess sports, so don’t try that.

Gamer on
Doesn't beleive this myth.

“Real athletes are smarter.” Do you know how much info about the game do pro players need to remember? A lot. And there’s strategy, teamwork and sense of what the team has to do next. Look at Counter Strike for example, the game requires planning, reflexes, teamwork, map memorizing and controlling a money economy inside the game. And if “pressing some buttons” doesn’t make you smarter, how does kicking or hitting a ball either?

Exalt3dWraith on

Of course an athlete would beat a gamer in an athletic test because it is something the atlete chooses to train and practice for with much of their time. The same way an athlete could beat a gamer in an athletic test a gamer would destroy an athlete in a video game. Both require very different skill sets. While sports like football, baseball, lacrosse etc. require more physical training, professional gaming requires more mental and tactical training, but both heavily depend on teamwork. In the end does it really matter, gaming is something that a lot of people enjoy and is getting more and more popular as time goes by. I don’t watch or play football anymore, but I don’t bash it because I don’t find it as entertaining as I used to. I respect those who play and watch sports such as football or baseball and I would hope that others would extend that same respect to myself and others who play and watch professional gaming. Hell, maybe even give it a try, get some friends get together and play, maybe some of you reading this might enjoy it.

Elijah Spirs-Bridje on

poo

Dylan Baxter on

ESports are real sports

Christian F. Vestergaard on

It is true

Austin on

fact

Gamer on
Supports this as a Fact.

It’s a sport. As long as chess, poker, darts and NASCAR are considered as serious sports, eSports are a sport too. No arguements. You either change the whole opinions or just accept that eSports is here and it will stay.

Mathieu on
Doesn't beleive this myth.

But than: all depends on WHO is asking👍😎
If sport should be healthy one can question whether e-games ( e-sports?) are.
If sport should contribute to international understanding etc, e-sport can as borders , nationality, gender/sex, and similar should not apply to electronic transfers/ games. Or is this the goal : to control and limit transborder games/ competitions by creating new regional or national governing bodies😟

Just few examples of ” who is asking”. I do not belief sporting bodies should be enabled to organise this fantastic and powerfull means of communication. Of course “they ” including NOC’s , IOC and similar have a different opinion.

So: why do we need e-sports to be “regulated” at all? Tax reasons , create more ‘de facto’ monopolies, money more in general?
Just look at the references 5 to 14 above article.

name on

Not sports

carsen Domurat on
Doesn't beleive this myth.

“esports” will never be sports. Just the name “E-sports” implies that they aren’t sports, if you need to change the word itself to make it fix yourself feel like an athlete you don’t belong in any type of real sports. Sports are supposed to be healthy, explain to me how sitting in front of a computer all day is healthy? People play video games that are based off sports while just sitting on their couch or at a computer, what about all the people actually running around playing these sports everyday, its plain insulting to those athletes. The word “Athlete” is a form of athletic and if you’re calling these people just sitting in front of a screen athletic you’re just lying to yourself.

Anonymous on
Supports this as a Fact.

Your entire argument is based of the name, which is no argument at all. Saying these players aren’t athletic just means you didn’t even read the article where it clearly states that professional players are living a healthy lifestyle.

Octopussy on
Supports this as a Fact.

esport gamers dont just sit behind their computers they actually do physical movement exercizes and train every single day the eat healthy to, they are just like any other athlete but instead of using their training physicly they use it with their mind which they trained up by doing momentus moevements

edwardo tedwardo on
Supports this as a Fact.

yeet

tomgie on
Doesn't beleive this myth.

what is a sport

long dong shlong on
Supports this as a Fact.

ayy lmaoo

Nathan on
Supports this as a Fact.

Totally a fact

Arie on

Yep