WoW Creator: Games Should Be In The Olympics

WoW Creator: Games Should Be In The Olympics
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Do you think eSports should be in the Olympics? Rob Pardo, co-creator of World of Warcraft, does.

Speaking with the BBC’s Let’s Talk About Tech podcast this week, Pardo said eSports were well positioned to be a spectator sport. Pardo claimed game athletes had to have extremely quick reaction speeds and decision-making skills, and quoted the Actions Per Minute (APM) of the best players, which is often above 300.

The APM of a player is far from a marker of skill, as in games like Starcraft, often a player will click many times in the same place, issuing the same action over and over. But we’ll forgive Pardo as he evangelises for eSports – a worthy cause – and to the layman, 300 APM might get across just how fast these pros are working. If video games ever are in consideration for the Olympics, that might be the factor that equalises the fact that eSports athletes don’t have to undergo the same physical training as a world-class runner.

But Pardo cleverly makes the point that if you define a sport by physical exertion, you could point to certain sports already in the Olympics that don’t fit that definition.

That, plus the lack of desire to spectate some of those sports, make eSports a better option — but hey, I’m biased. Throwing in eSports is probably the only way you’d get me to watch the Winter Olympics. I’m certain our most popular games have more traction than the less interesting Olympic sports.

As the BBC points out, however, adding to the list of Olympic sports is easier said than done, with Chess players trying for years only to be told their game is a “mind sport”:

Having new sports admitted into the Olympic roster is a long-winded process and, since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) capped the number of sports allowed in the Games, has become increasingly difficult.

Even if e-sports were to be recognised as an Olympic sport, that does not mean they would be included in the Games – it merely means a case can be presented to the IOC.

That’s ignoring the next step, which is of course, what game would you add? How would you deal with the fact that a lot of popular games also have lots of random number generation? Which version of a game would you include? Always the latest edition of Call of Duty, or a proven classic for competition like the first Modern Warfare? How much control are you willing to cede to the game creator? The Olympics would need to regulate to a degree, but companies like Valve have full control over Counter-Strike.

How would you handle it?



  • Although the Olympics is a long shot it does deserve more recognition. Debate over calling it a “sport” aside, it can be thrilling to watch.

    • You mean the World Cyber Games? It’s officially no longer running, but that’s the closest we got.

  • E-Sport of any persuasion is unlikely to be embraced as a legitimate sport by society for a good number of years yet. Gaming still has the “Kids Pastime” stigma and it isn’t going away any time soon regardless of the exposure it gets.

    And that’s fine.

    I don’t need to have the world at large converted to my way of thinking, I enjoy watching some competitive league of legends, can appreciate the skills exhibited by a top class fighting game player and recognise the effort that goes in to planning and executing starcraft strategies and in the moment thinking that goes on mid match. Me liking these things doesn’t mean others have to, though I would like to see more tolerance of the existence of e-sport especially by those quick to negative comments due to lack of understanding or acceptance of what goes in to these games.

    I also don’t believe it should make an appearance in an olympic games, that is why we have IEM, WCG, Dreamhack, LCS, Evo and countless other tournaments all aimed at their respective demographics, also consider the career length of the players, often (but not always) less than the 4 years between olympic games. Counterstrike or Starcraft simply don’t belong on the stage next to the 100m freestyle or Javelin. They are different beasts entirely.

    I would be open to something along the lines of an E-Lympics but not yet, not until there is a more general acceptance of e-sport as a whole. Hell, be all inclusive and allow all “games of the mind” and get chess in to join the party along with any other groups vying for an olympic slot but are unlikely to see it.

    • Counterstrike or Starcraft simply don’t belong on the stage next to the 100m freestyle or Javelin. They are different beasts entirely.

      While that’s true, I’d argue that archery, shooting and table tennis don’t really belong there either, yet they are all olympic sports. And the equestrian events are even stupider…let’s train a horse to do stuff while we ride it and call it a sport. Don’t work up too much of a sweat there while the horse does all the work man.

      Hell, be all inclusive and allow all “games of the mind” and get chess in to join the party along with any other groups vying for an olympic slot but are unlikely to see it.

      Esports aren’t just “games of the mind” though. While something like chess is very much a mind game, as is something like poker, esports require that physical ability to go along with the mind. You can be the best tactician in the word but if the other guy can out-multitask you in something like Starcraft you’re not going to win. You never see pro players with low APM.

      • Interestingly enough Chess IS recognised as a sport by the Olympics committee, it’s just not part of the program yet…

  • He’s arguing on the wrong level. What most people miss about the Olympic and Commonwealth Games is that they’re diplomatic events. It’s not a matter of whether an event is skill based or a ‘real’ sport. It’s about whether an event is open to as many of the invited countries as possible and will unite the countries and audiences in the spirit of friendly competition. Obviously there are other factors, you’ll never see hot dog eating in the Olympics no matter how many participating countries have hot dog eating teams, but being relate-able is probably the biggest factor. That’s why we see a lot of simple sports that anyone with shoes and basic equipment can train for.

    I think the biggest hurdle involved with making video games a part of the Olympics is that they don’t have a standard, non-branded, relatively consistent over 10 years version. There is no ‘just 8v8 FPS’ or ‘just RTS’. There’s a few games like Starcraft that manage to stick around for long periods but for the most part it’s an ever changing roster. It would be like if every year Addidas and Nike released competing variations on basic track and field events (while retiring the previous events).
    On that note one very specific no-no when it comes to event selection is that it’s not about promoting your sport. Many events do enjoy the benefits of being part of the games but not quite on the same level as pro gaming. I think pro gaming’s close relationship with game promotion will ensure that we never see pro gaming make the leap over to the Olympics.

    Most importantly though whether your chosen sport is included as an Olympic event says absolutely nothing of it’s legitimacy. To be rejected from the Olympics does not invalidate your chosen sport. Likewise it doesn’t make some of the lesser Olympic sports more valid than your chosen sport.

  • I think maybe not the olympics, because esports changes so much and there is so many different games and balance patches change things so much, it wouldn’t really make sense. Not saying that I wouldn’t watch the everliving poop out of it if it did become a thing, because I would.

  • It will take a long of time, lots of years to see something like this to happen. Key people that influence the Olympic Council should be gamers or have an interest (even cultural, economical or political) in the e-sport scene in general. Also the video game scene is brand new. The majority of the oldish players are no over 45 years old and that says a lot. Chess is being played for centuries, so it’s impact is far greater in the minds of the general public.

    If there would be something to happen in the next few years is to create a collaborate game by the top industry’s developers and would champion the diversity in different genres. it should be easy to understand and maybe have impressive characteristics, like fast-tactical pace with high end graphics. Is anyone else thinking of VR ?

    • this simply comes down to viewers. LoL final attracts 32million viewers on arguably non mainstream media. Someone presents this argument to the OC and sponsors to get esports in the Olympics they will listen quickly if utilizing the media force of the Olympics will drive many more millions of young viewers to engage

  • games as a sport yes, games as an Olympic sport hmm don’t know, it also brings up the question of what games to play. counter strike vs CoD, LoL vs DotA, starcraft vs… is there any other good competitive rts games, then there’s hearthstone and if hearthstone why not magic the gathering

    it might be something that would actually get me to watch the Olympics though

  • God no, I’m not a huge aficionado of sports, but video games don’t display human physical achievements in the way a 100m sprint or 1500m freestyle does. Video games are more along the lines of chess or something, feats of the mind. Even that is pushing it. Hm.

  • Using computers, they should never be regarded as a sport – happy for console games to be considered such, but when I can get a faster computer and connection and more ergonomic mouse, and blah, blah, blah, then you have to realise that it’s not down to individual ability, but other factors outside of this. The only legit sporting games should be those that can be played at the same time on the same screen. Done.

    • E-Sports are generally played in the same room using standardised equipment, though. If you’re referring to the difference in training equipment and facilities, it’s not much different from countless other sports.

  • The only games that I could see making it is games that have held a consistent competitive scene for more than 10 years.

    The best examples are Street Fighter, Starcraft and Counter-Strike. All 3 games have had a competitive scene for over 10 years through their different versions.

    Also I see people arguing that games don’t have a physical aspect, these people have obviously never played or seen Street Fighter played at the highest level (EVO etc). It requires Reflexes, precision and execution under high pressure, instant decision making, and when it comes to 3 day tournys like EVO with upto 2 thousand competitors stamina also becomes a huge factor. This is alot more than Chess which is a recognized sport by the IOC (Olympic committee)

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