Although there is much discussion about eSports eventually becoming a recognized Olympic event, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach believes this cannot happen until games deal with their more violent elements. His statements come after a rise in the popularity of eSports, including their inclusion in the upcoming Asian Games.
Electronic sports, aka eSports, has seen an uptick in popularity recently. Cities all over the world host competitions for gamers to compete in while playing titles such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, Overwatch, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Madden NFL. It isn't just players interested in eSports, though, the competitions also get a large share of spectators. Analysts believe that more than 427 million people will be actively watching eSports events by 2019. Those same analysts also think that global revenue from eSports will hit $1 billion by 2019.
The increase in awareness of eSports, as well as those willing to watch it, has started a discussion about eSports eventually making its way to the Olympics. According to the AP, though, Bach announced that eSports games would have to meet certain conditions first, citing that the violence in some of these games does not accurately represent the spirit of the Olympics.
"We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination. So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted."
Bach, a former Olympic fencer, also explained the difference in combat-related sports that might be considered violent, as opposed to eSports that include violence:
"Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people. But sport is the civilized expression about this. If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values."
It's no secret that many of the competitive games do include a lot of killing. But it's not just the killing within the games that concerns the Olympic Committee. It's probable that the recent mass shooting at a Madden NFL tournament will weigh into their final decision, although many consider that a problem with America's gun laws more than any problem with the gaming community, in general.
Much of the discussion about eSports in the Olympics comes from a decision by the Asian Games to include eSports as a competitive event for the first time in 2022. Before that, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will include eSports competitions, with FIFA 17 already confirmed as one title there. Meanwhile, the Olympic Council of Asia has teamed up with Alisports to get eSports recognized officially by the International Olympic Committee.
Considering that skateboarding, rifle shooting and climbing have already been added to the 2020 Olympics, it's no far stretch to imagine that eSports could become an Olympic sport as early as 2022. It's already evident that people want to watch eSports competitions and what better way to watch such a competition than with it happening as part of the Olympics?