eSports has finally made Japan, kicking off with big competitions this past weekend.
While one would think the home base for video game giants such as Nintendo Corp., Sony Corp., and Bandai Namco would be the first to hit eSports, they have only just recently put their backs behind professional video game competitions.
But what prompted them to do so? How about eSports possibly becoming a medal event at the Olympics.
Although buzzing in the background is speculation that eSports could be an official Olympic sport, explaining Japan's interest in catching up on one of the things it does best, video games.
eSports will be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games, signaling that mainstream recognition is gaining. "Global eSports fans are estimated to number 500 million by 2020," according to game-market researcher Newzoo.
The Japan eSports Union, Jesu, is the official pro organization for the growing eSports gaming competitions, making an entrance Feb. 1 into eSports, giving licenses to professional video gamers in Japan, setting the rules and the bars while looking forward to fostering prospective gems.
The union also has Japan’s game software makers as well as technology companies such as video-sharing site niconico backing them, which is an obvious go to.
This past weekend, participants competed in seven different games, with eye-catchers such as “Tekken 7” and “Street Fighter V,” all for the ¥5,000,000 in prize money, a big wad of cash, according to The Japan News.
"Leopold Chung, an official with the International eSports Federation, or IeSF, which promotes eSports," met with JESU officials over the past weekend.
Chung said in so many words it will not tolerate doping, will give legal aid with contracts, and will also provide security for retirees, all of which are necessitated by high levels of standard. Chung also thinks eSports shows great promise for 3rd world nations like Africa since virtual and telecommunications tech can bridge the divide, according to the Miami Herald.
Leopold Chung emphatically stated, "Because of the technology, our communities are connected," according to the Miami Herald.
So with eSports not only being at this point a potential Olympic game but also a way to further a cohesive dialogue between all different demographics to cross borders, it's no wonder why Japan has taken this opportunity to get in the game.
The eSports introduction in Chiba, Japan had a great reception as audiences scrutinized massive screens in the Makuhari Messe hall as tight-lipped, white-knuckled eSports competitors mashed the buttons, focusing on the digital battle at hand, according to The Japan Times.
As eSports becomes more and more recognized throughout the world, with Japan being the latest addition, and with the possibility of breaking into the Olympics, it seems almost logical video gaming is a professional sport. The barrier between eSports and physical sports is the fact that video games are a test of the mind and reaction timing while sports, in general, require this and physical exertion. But while professional and traditional athletes may have qualms about eSports reaching their level the question arises, isn't a furiously intense battle of the mind just as competitive as a battle of the body? Also, when watching say, “Tekken 7” and “Street Fighter V” on a gigantic movie screen with a high stakes jackpot on the line, you know you're going to watch the virtual battle of wits and thumb mashing ensue, manifesting in super digital detail.