This Year’s Rio Olympics Will Showcase Esports Too

The possibility of getting video games into the Olympics has been bandied around for a while, but it’s not until this year that something concrete has finally begun to emerge. It’s not officially affiliated with Rio itself, but during this year’s Olympic Games there will be a two-day pop-up event for esports — and it’s backed by the United Kingdom.

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The initiative is called eGames and it’s pitching itself as an “international gaming tournament where national pride is the prize”. They mean that quite literally too — there’s no prize money for winning the eGames, only the chance to officially represent your country and a gold, silver or bronze medal for the best.

The idea of a digital Olympics worked really well for the World Cyber Games, but Samsung — which used WCG as a marketing tool — at least invested enough money into the event to ensure that players walked away with something more tangible than a medal. Medals don’t pay the bills. And with tournaments around the world offering millions of dollars of prizes it’s hard to imagine a sense of nationalist pride surpassing players’ looking after their financial interests.

Those uniforms look pretty sweet, mind you.

But it’ll be interesting to see how this year’s pop-up event goes. The International eGames Committee (IEGC) is the not-for-profit body responsible, and it’s already overseen the establishment of advisory boards in Canada, the United States, and Brazil. “Each country will have a squad (eTeam) of gamers (male and female — over 18) playing in team and individual games,” the landing page says.

The first full eGames event will be a bi-annual affair and will begin in South Korea in 2018, with a second event scheduled two years later in Tokyo. “They will be taking place when there are no other major sporting events,” the site advises, adding that domestic and national qualifiers will take place to determine representatives in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

Games for the pop-up event in Rio this year haven’t been announced, although more details will be released in the coming months.


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