E-sports: are they really?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
The e-sports industry keeps growing and growing. But is it a sport? Is sitting at a computer in a room really sport? The Otago Daily Times looks at the argument over whether e-sport makes the cut as a sport. 

Yes, it is a sport

Reasons. -

Competition: You are up against real people, in real time, to obtain a real result. The only difference is that you do it via a screen, rather than in person.

Team work: You can have teams of multiple people working together to achieve a common goal. In many computer sporting games you have a group of people all controlling one virtual player each, all doing their jobs as they would in a team sport. That is no different from a rugby, football or netball team working together to win a game.

Purpose: If you are playing an e-sport, you better believe the result will affect your mood. Winning or losing a game is no different from how you feel after a game of rugby or cricket.

The physical component: It is the biggest grey area in the whole debate. Reaction speeds can be essential. Does pressing buttons in reaction to what is happening on a screen class as physical enough for a sport? Is that any less skilful than playing darts or pool? Where do interactive games where your movements are translated on to the screen fit into that?

The set up: There are leagues world wide with franchises, and people watch these games just as they watch other sport on television and on the internet. People aspire to become professional and will practise for hours and hours every day to get there, again, just as any other athlete would.

No, it is not a sport

Reasons. -

Lack of action: You sit in a chair and press buttons. There is no running around and pressing buttons is so minimal you cannot class it as having a physical component.

Virtual v reality: Memo, lads and lasses - it's not real. What is happening on the screen is being controlled by people. It is make-believe.

No history and tradition: Most sports are steeped in history and endless tradition. E-sports has none of that. It is supposedly big time in some places and lounges. But there is still a decent leap to get into the broader public consciousness.

The image: Sport is about athleticism, dynamism, and endurance. Think LeBron James, Laura Langman and Beauden Barrett. For many, e-sports conjures the image of a teenage boy who lives off junk food and has not left his bedroom in three days.

Gut feel: So much of sport is based around gut feel. The gut feel of e-sport goes against everything that sport is.

Verdict

E-sport fills many of the requirements of what being a sport entails. It has competition, meaning and a set-up that mimics many of the world's biggest sports. But is there enough of a physical component? Pressing buttons in reaction to what is happening in a virtual world really does not fit into the category of a sport.

 - What do you think? Email: sport@odt.co.nz with your thoughts.

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