72% of all teenagers play video games, with 84% of Boys and 59% of girls who each play video games on a cell phone, computer, or game console (Greenwood). In this 2015 study from the Pew Research Center, It is seen that video games are widely played by most teenagers. Just like after-school sports and activities, video games can be a leisurely activity or hobby for many adolescents. But why aren’t video games held at the same regard as sports? Many parents find immense pride when telling their friends about their child’s athletic scholarship with a reputable university, while, on the other hand, a statement such as “My son is a gamer” is said with embarrassment more than with dignity (Savov). This negative connotation with the term “gamer” creates problems for teenagers because video games are not accepted as a sufficient replacement to athletic sports. This image of video games puts gamers at a much lower level than their athletic counterparts who are, in reality, equals to each other. Both video games and sports should be held in the same regard in today’s social sphere for teeneagers. And while video games should be considered as equal to other sports, they should never replace the physical aspect that comes with sports.
Many professional athletes are extremely fit and healthy because of their craft, and spend countless hours physically training. On the other hand, video games require much less physical fitness. For a healthy lifestyle, physical activity is certainly needed.
Because of this, I believe video games should never replace the need for an individual to exercise and to stay physically fit. Being an athlete requires lots of mental and physical proficiency, and professional gamers should also be mentally and physically fit, even if they are not using their physical body to compete. But, in many regards, adolescent gamers and athletes are extremely similar. Gamers who compete at a high or even professional level can even receive scholarships from schools such as the Robert Morris University (McCormick). Video Games are just like sports and should be treated as such in present day America.
To bridge the divide between Physical and E-sport athletes, society must accept video games and the competitive environment that surrounds them as equals for viable extracurricular activities. It is imperative that the definition of a “sport” be changed to include Video Games. Competitive video game teams originate, compete and train just like regular athletic teams. Like popular sports teams, video games also have popular competitive teams with recognizable names and players. In addition to this, teams often hold live broadcasts of competitive matches in a certain game.
These broadcasts attract a sizeable crowd of viewers and operate under the same way that, say, a basketball game would. Often times, these live games are held in arenas so people can attend and watch the games live. These professional gamers also train like professional athletes. They are required to play almost every day during the week. Some teams, like the players on Team Liquid, a competitive League of Legends team, play a minimum of 50 hours per week, while most play many more (Jacobs). These teams often have a coach and training instructor, along with substitute players. They practice in complex routines that are homogeneous to athletic teams’.
Players also earn salaries that are typically over 100,000$ and can go well above that. In addition to this, teams who compete in national tournaments receive prize money for winning or placing higher. While most of the publicized action goes to high-ranking teams, there are thousands of lower-level teams who still compete and train, just not on the same grand scale of professionals. These qualities of video game teams are almost identical to that of professional athletic teams, and should therefore be placed in the same category as them. Video games require a huge amount of skill to play, learn, and master the craft of the game. Most video games present themselves in a fashion that is appealing to new players. Like most other sports, video games are easy to pick up, but extremely difficult to master.
This causes a wide array of skill levels within a game, where it is most difficult at the top of these skill curves. High-level players require a vast amount of knowledge about the game itself along with player specific skills such a reaction time, adaptability, and multi-tasking. While these skills are undoubtedly different from professional athletes, they still require lots of training and practice to maintain and sharpen them. Pros often undergo rigorous and extensive exercises to develop these abilities, as they must stay on top of their game. One might argue that video games should not be considered sports because they are not physical activities. While they aren’t physical, there are plenty of other stagnant activities that are considered sports. Chess, for example, is recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee and is also recognized as a sport by many of the countries in the European Union (Ten).
Video Games are extremely similar to chess in that it takes serious mental concentration and training to excel. Sure, video games may just be “pressing buttons”, but they certainly aren’t easy to master and take hours upon hours to learn. While the competitive scenes of sports and video games are extremely similar, the causal and more leisurely side of these are similar as well. Pick-up games and casual competitions are quite common for most video games, just as some players aren’t geared for that. Some players would rather have fun messing around with their friends than engage in an intense and high-stakes game. The formats for casual games modes are quite popular too, as many games feature a smaller 1v1 or 2v2 gamemode at a much smaller scale than the main competition gamemode. Lots of video games these days are releasing ways to play them in a vast variety of ways, where players have freedom to create any system or mode that they can dream of. For example, Overwatch, a team-based multiplayer online game, has tools where players can create any gamemode of their choice and share it with others.
This is similar to many other sports like soccer, where the imagination of one’s mind is limitless. Many video games cater to the large player base of casual gamers. Changing the definition of sports to include video games will create a space where adolescent gamers are included in today’s society and accepted as equals to those who play sports. Video games are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and are quickly becoming a part of everyday lives. While video games should never replace physical activity, they are tantamount to sports and should be treated as one.