I was asked not too long ago whether gaming competitions were a ‘real thing.’ Needless to say, the barely coherent, mostly nonsensical question sent me into a coma, and having now recovered, I am free to not only answer the question, but to ask it properly.
Are eSports a Legitimate Form of Competition? What Separates eSports From Regular Sports?
The answer to the first question is yes; just like every game of handball you ever played in school was legitimate competition. It may not have had advertising, or sports managers, or accusations of rape leveled at the players, but the heart of the activity remained the same. Those participating wanted to test their skills in a rules based environment against other people restricted by those same rules. And what separates eSports from regular sports?
Computers. The same things that run and dictate every other facet of your life.
Many of you have probably seen or heard the bogan media outlets throw their hands up in despair at Australia’s gold medal tally, posing the question as to whether we should be further funding our athletes. The answer is no, no we shouldn’t, because the cost of living in this country is ridiculously high, a portion of our populace lives in third-world conditions and our education system, while good, could take a few cues from Finland’s success. But if our pop-mentality relies so heavily on watching Australian sportsmen (and women, I get it, sportsmen just rolls of the tongue better than sportspeople) triumph, why don’t we look at all avenues? In short:
Screw the Olympics – Support eSports
I was shocked to learn that Australia had born and bred a StarCraft player that topped the Korean ladders. The poker-player turned StarCraft genius, Mafia, beat a nation of people that live StarCraft. Where top players are gods, where there are tv channels dedicated to matches, and where the internet connection allows them to stream fifteen movies while downloading ten gigs of tentacle porn and suffer no lag.
At the moment, I’m probably preaching to the choir. Gamers understand the difficulties involved, and anyone with a vested interest can access YouTube to see matches and hear from players and enthusiasts exactly what it takes to succeed in the gaming environment.
But I’m not here to convince you. I’m here to convince the non-believers to change their hero from ‘those guys that swim in one direction really fast’ to ‘those guys who have to be actively engaged in a battle of wits, tactics, strategies, accuracy and reflexes, all while sitting in a claustrophobia inducing box.’
Australia, for all of its natural beauty, is basically a giant rock with a population far removed from any civilisation that we’ve drawn direct influence from. We don’t get to hop on a train to Germany to compete in football every other day, we don’t have the same obscene advertising resources to draw from like the US does, but what we do have is the internet: the worlds most efficient passport. Everything in current eSports can start at an international level whether it be training, advertising or attending, and by supporting it now, we’d be making an investment for the future.
With every year that passes, with every member of the baby-boomers that passes from this life, video games are viewed and followed in a more serious fashion. EVO has grown exponentially over the past decade, and the recent StarCraft Oceanic competitions in Sydney have proven there is a dedicated fanbase even in this tiny hell-hole of a country. eSports can, and will eventually appeal to the two most important parties in the sporting world:
- The flag-waving, watermelon helmet wearing moron fuelled by a misplaced sense of patriotism; and
- The cynical, calculating, suit-wearing, profit obsessed creature who could figure out the dollar value of humanity;
So That’s Where we Should Start Pushing Those Sporting Tax Dollars
Our government loves to pledge millions upon millions towards sport, so why not throw a spare million towards eSports? It can’t be for health concerns, otherwise we would have banned cigarettes a long time ago. It can’t be fear of violence, otherwise they would have banned alcohol (or attendance) at rugby matches and it can’t be because the populace doesn’t want to support it, because we have zero say in where our tax dollars actually go. I can’t think of a single reason as to why this is a bad idea, and I’m practically a genius.
And really, when you think about it, swimming isn’t really a sport; it’s something you do to stop drowning (thanks Jimmy Carr).