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?