Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport: a Debate Around Esport

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2475 |

Pages: 5|

13 min read

Published: Jul 3, 2023

Words: 2475|Pages: 5|13 min read

Published: Jul 3, 2023

Table of contents

  1. What is Esport?
  2. Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport?
  3. Can Esports Be a Career?
  4. The Place of Esport in the Olympics
  5. Conclusion
  6. References

In the modern world, the sports, entertainment, show business and computer technology industries are developing at an incredible pace. In the midst of all of these different industries, the esport (electronic sport or video games) industry has begun its rise to rival the current competition. Why is this industry suddenly becoming so exponentially popular, where does the money to fund it come from, does money go to professional players and what does the future of esports look like? Should video games be considered a sport? For clarification, the term 'esport' is used in the paper in the same context as 'video games' or 'electronic sport'.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

What is Esport?

Esport can be defined as a form of sport, where either teams or individual professional players and amateurs compete against each other at a highly competitive level by playing video games. The process behind it is very similar to 'traditional' sport, as there are ladders, different leagues and tournaments for different games and players that belong to teams or sporting organisations.

While recently, the popularity of esports has been rising exponentially, the origin of it can be dated back to October 19th, 1972 at Stanford University, which is when and where the first ever recorded official video competition happened. Players were invited to the event to compete in a game called Spacewar, which is a game where two players compete against each other to destroy the other players space ship. The reward for winning this competition was a one year subscription to the Rolling Stone magazine, which is a monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. The first large scale esport game was held in 1980 by Atari where players played a game called Space Invaders, in which over 10,000 players participated in. This event is what allowed video game competitions to come out into the light of the world. Esports started to grow during the 1990s, where esport tournaments were getting promoted more and more. The 1990s is also when the first esports leagues were founded.

In May 1997, what is considered to be one of the first true esport competitions was held, the Red Annihilation. This was a very large event, where over 2000 players joined and battled it out online against each other until there were only 16 players left. Those 16 players were flown to the United States to compete at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). This event is considered to be one of the competitions where esports was truly born.

The popularity of esports continued to rise throughout the 2000s, where the number of tournaments went from 10 in 2000 to 260 in 2010. The amount of prize money also began to increase as seen in 2006, in a tournament held by FUN technologies where 71 players played 3 'casual games' (casual games because they focus more towards the general public and do not require an intense amount of focus communication and skill to play) in which the prize money for winning was $1 million. In 2019, the prize pool for a recent Dota 2 tournament was over $30 million.

There are currently five main genres of games that are part of the esports industry. Those genres include: first person shooters (FPS), where one team is performing a task, while the other team attempts to stop them from completing the task; real-time strategies (RTS) where players build armies, and attempt to destroy the other players army and base; multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAS) normally a game where five players fight against five other players on the enemy teams where everyone controls one hero where the goal is to destroy the enemy base; simulator games which can be peaceful games where players control military equipment; and sports games such as football, basketball and hockey. The two most common genres of games are MOBAS, RTS and FPS games, while the others are also very popular.

Currently esport is one of the fastest growing digital industries, and is even considered the world’s fastest growing sport, other than football , with the number of players and fans currently exceeding 300 million people, and is expected to reach around 450 million by the end of 2019.5The esport industry is also expected to reach $1 billion in revenue for the United Stated from advertisements, sponsorships and media rights, and by 2022 global revenues are expected to reach almost $2 billion. Esports is growing so large, that some tournaments are now beginning to be held at some of the largest sport events, some of which even include Olympic facilities and stadiums built for the World Cup.

Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport?

A common debate between people is if esports (video games) should be considered a sport or not. Many people say that esport fits under the categories of a sport, while others disagree. They say that esport athletes are not being physical and active, that they are just sitting in their chairs playing casual video games, that the games do not require as much team effort as other sports. People say, that since they can sit down on their couch, or behind their computer screens, video games should not be considered a sport. They say for something to be considered a sport, you have to go outside and play with a ball, or use things such as a racket or hockey stick and use your whole body. A sport that seems similar to esports in terms of there being little physical exertion is chess. The Olympic committee consider chess a sport, and many people say that chess is a sport, while esport is not, because the players are not playing on computers with controllers, mouses and keyboards, but are instead physically touching the board and pieces and are using their mind to win the game, even though, there is no physical movement with a ball or racket outside on a field, as most people say is required for a sport. . However, those claims are not necessarily true.

First of all, not all sports can be part of esports. Only those that are free from random events and have all players in the same conditions are allowed to be part of esports. This is why in esports, where are only games where players play against each other one on one, the same as in sports such as table tennis, or tennis, where players individual skills and quick decisions determine the outcome of the game. The other types of games are team games, where all the players are in equal conditions, and both the individual decisions and decisions as a team influence the outcome of the game, the same as in basketball or football. This is why single player, casual games, that many people play at home are not part of the esports industry.

Furthermore, while people say that esports do not have a high amount of physical exertion, studies have proven this statement to be false. While to the general audience it just looks as if the players are hitting their keyboards and mice randomly, there are many thoughts and processes going on inside their minds. Scientists have observed, that since both hands are used when playing video games, both sides of the brain are being used as both the mouse and keyboard are used at the same time. This is a very high level of strain, that scientists have never observed in any other kind of sport, not even in table tennis, which is a sport which requires a high level of hand eye coordination. Scientists from the German Sports University have conducted tests, checking minds of the players, and were testing for a certain stress hormone, cortisol. The studies concluded that the amount of the hormone cortisol produced by esport athletes is about the same amount as that of a professional race car driver. During tense situations, the players also have a very high pulse, sometimes reaching 160-180 beats per minute, which is the equivalent to the amount that a runner has when they are running a marathon. These studies have shown, that esport athletes go through very similar amounts of physical strain to athletes of ‘traditional’ sports even though the players do not go outside on a field or on a court.

Can Esports Be a Career?

There is an opinion that most esport athletes are just teenagers that spend hours in front of a computer screen and are addicted solely to video games, however, often times, this is not the case. Most esport athletes are in their twenties. The average age for World of Tanks players is 27 years. Professional esport athletes are also generally very fit, and not lanky teenagers that sit in their basement all day long.

Having esports as a career has a large amount of benefits that come with it. For example, professional esport players have increased reaction times, as well as increased cognitive functions such as visual attention and short-term memory. Expert Yauheni Hladki also claims that esport athletes are more skilled than regular athletes at what they do as esport games require more skill than regular sports. There is also a growing field for careers in the esport industry: the players themselves, hosts, coaches, referees casters and others. The salary for those jobs also is a fair amount, depending of which career option is chosen, as hosts/broadcasters might only earn an average of $1000 per broadcast, coaches with an average of $70,000 to $80,000 a year, sales and marketing specialists averaging $90,000 a year and the athletes themselves, which earn very differing amounts. Some players might earn $5000 a month, while others might earn $200,000 from one match. Everything depends on what tournaments they participate in, and how good they are. However, apart from just being paid for participating in tournaments, many of the players also stream their gameplay on streaming sites such as Twitch, where they can earn money outside of tournaments, to earn more than the average person a year.

There are also disadvantages that come from being an esport athlete. One of the disadvantages is the amount of time put into training. Of course, the amount of time an athlete spends on training depends on how long they want to spend, the average most athletes spend playing video games a day is 8 hours, while some of the top players spend times from 12 to 15 hours a day, and not everyone can handle the extensive training that goes into esports. A lot of effort needs to be put in for professional players to be the best players in their league.

The Place of Esport in the Olympics

A question that people have is whether esport will be part of the Olympics or not. Some people support the idea, some people do not. One of the people that does not support esport in the Olympics is the president of the International Olympic Committee, President Thomas Bach. While it has been released that esports will be an even in the 2022 Asian Games, which is the Olympics but for Asian countries, Bach still has some concerns. He says that esports will not be part of the Olympics yet as they are too violent, and that is not the Olympics attempt to promote, and that even though they will be in the Asian Olympics, there are conditions that the games need to meet before being allowed. Even though esports will be in the Asian Games, they will only be shown as a demonstration sport while still being a medal event, but could potentially be a full-medal event in four years in China. Even though Bach still says that esport are still some ways away from being in the Olympics, Paris has said that they are willing to have esports in their 2024 Olympic games, maybe not as an official sport, but at least as a demonstration sport.

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While esport is a rapidly growing industry, and can definitely reach the same popularity as other sport, such as football or basketball, the debate about it being a real sport and its participation in the Olympics is still going. Even though it checks every box necessary to be considered a sport, some people cannot agree with that and refuse to accept it as a sport. As for its place in the Olympics, the President Thomas Bach stated that they are too violent to be shown, and it is highly likely that esport will not be in the Olympics in the near future. However, that does not mean the industry is going to die. Instead the industry is going to continue to grow, and it is going to be more difficult to find reasons to not consider it a sport and include it in the Olympics. Esport is and will continue to infinitely evolve.


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Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport: a Debate Around Esport. (2023, July 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from
“Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport: a Debate Around Esport.” GradesFixer, 03 Jul. 2023,
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