Gold medals for playing video games? It might sound crazy, but it could soon be true.
The esports scene has never been bigger, and it still continues to grow every year. As of February last year, a Newzoo report projected the growth of the "eSports Economy" to reach $696 million and will double to $1.5 billion by 2020. With a reach on top of that of hundreds of millions of avid fans, it's not hard to imagine these competitions one day being an Olympic sport.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Playing video games doesn't involve much. You get to sit on your butt, eat your heart out and click away on your keyboard, which doesn't sound nearly as impressive as the amazing physical feats that Olympians have been conquering. There is a lot more to it than that, though, and it certainly shows through the competitive nature of these massive competitions.
Intel's Extreme Masters is a great example of how big it's become. 18 gamers gather to compete against each other one-by-one in StarCraft II for a share of $150,000. If you don't know what StarCraft II is, it's probably because it mostly has a major following in Asian countries such as South Korea, where Extreme Masters took place this month. It's a complex game, requiring a great amount of focus, multitasking, and skill. In Yahoo's article, it's compared to "playing chess with all the pieces constantly moving, and not having any idea where your opponent’s pieces are."
As of now, the major event took place in parallel to the Olympics, as it was aired until February 4. It may be a long way until esports reaches those heights, as the International Olympic Committee's president Thomas Bach has said that the peaceful message of the Olympics doesn't quite match the "violence, explosions and killing" of video games. Hopefully one day the committee will be able to see that there is much to video games than simply gore, though.
Interested in Intel's Extreme Masters? Check out the exciting trailer for it below, and let us know what you think about esports being an Olympic sport in the comments!