Turning Video Games Into A Professional Sport

from the something-like-that dept

In the past, we’ve noted that videogames are increasingly similar to sports, even to the point of sponsorship deals. It appears that one firm is really trying to build up the concept of video games as a sport, and has been able to raise $10 million to make it so. Basically, it looks like the company just puts on tournaments. While that’s something, that’s a bit short of turning video games into a real professional sport. For it to reach that level, it would seem like there needs to be more of a focus on adding the “spectator” part to “spectator sport.” Are people (outside of other gamers) really going out of their way to follow these players or attend the various events?

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Comments on “Turning Video Games Into A Professional Sport”

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Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Hmmm, i can see that a group of fat geeks sat around for 30 minutes waiting till there turn on a duel in Jedi knight acadamy, or there fight in dead or alive.

But I cant really see the interest in watching CoD matches, unless your trying to get pointers about how to play.

Yet another dumb American idea im afraid

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Trying to get it to the same status as real sports is the dumb american idea. in places like korea how many people have a computer then ask yourself what perentage play videogames.

Also im places like korea and china, they dont have the same way of living as we do, and get completely immersed in the game to the point its real life (look at china and the people who keep dieing from WoW (World of Warcraft) I admit it is a pretty addictive game but it is a boring as hell once youve done anything. I dont like football (not NFL football what you americans would call soccer) ergo i hate watching it. I like martial arts, and you will occassionally see me watching martial arts matches on TV but you will see me training 3 -4 times a week.

My point being if you like computer games you will play them not watch them. The reason i brought up Jedi Knight 2 was that got to quiet a clan and unnoficial tournament level with duel matches.

Being a gamer i would not watch other people play, why not just play for yourself and you will hopefully get tbe occasional moron to watch you.

Hence the dumb american idea is to get it to the same level as “professional sports” like football and baseball god what is the obsession with them?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 not WoW

It was not a he and it was a she in china who died playing wow it was also in the summer and they had no work commitments as such, there was also an online funeral for her.

… look at a view of the average american are they fat or thin. the average european is thin, the average chineese person is thin, the average south american is thin, it seems to be the average Joe american is fat.

And I do believe that most computerliterate people who know how to trouble shoot a task eg my computer does not work do not call u p a ?0.50 a minute tech support line to be told have you tried turning it off and on again, they try numerous things first to decifer is it hardware, software etc. This to most normal people is geeky behavior.

The general consensus has been mostly geeks play computer games. due to their being a higher percentage of technology orientated people dabbleing in the VR world than the none technology orientated people. … Yes, computer games are considered to be virtual reality as they immerse the payer into a different world/PoV.

As for the PoV yes a lot of games have roaming cameras they use a player model with no ‘presence’ for the camera in some cases and in others they do have fixed points of view to watch. and most also have the ability to follow players.

Gerard says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

Not True. The is already a huge following for such things. There already exists the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) and the World Cyber Games (WCG) where people from all over the world join.

Here is south africa we have a small community of gamers. If you play a certain game you will run into the best in the country eventually. So when we send someone over because we either know him or have played him most of us are really rooting for the guy, hoping he does well. Also if you do watch the games, you only end watching the games that you yourself play.

That’s how I found it anyways…

…and no im not a fat geek. A geek, yes, but far from the stereotype.

IT GUY (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

Being a gamer i would not watch other people play, why not just play for yourself and you will hopefully get tbe occasional moron to watch you.

Ok but I go out and play football on weekends, so why should football be a sport? Why not just go out and throw the ball around and you will hopefully get tbe occasional moron to watch you.?

Neomage (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Yup

Well sounds like there are pros and cons to this move….into gamer stardom. But I think for the people who actually enjoy video games, will like this a whole lot. Just look at Xfire or Fileplanet. You know how many people download WoW movies? A whole lot. People actually enjoy watching someone, after 30 minutes to and hour of going through a certain lvl or quest actually complete the objective, not only makes the person playing the game feel good, but the people watching as well.

Road says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Yup

Okay when you look at the definition of sport it all has to do with physical activity and competition. But what is considered a physical activity. Bowling for example is considered a sport yet I would not consider one of those individuals to be an athlete. There even playing poker on ESPN. So what it?s coming down to into modern definition is any activity that requires competition is a ?sport?. Video games are by far not an activity just for the fat geeks. It just so happens that they don?t leave there house as much lol. Infact out of all my friends between the ages of 21 and 30, not one of them doesn?t play a video game of some sort Madden, Halo, world of warcraft. I go to the gym religiously but when I go to a friends house or when my girlfriends at work I?m on the computer or the xbox. It?s a generational thing that?s only going to escalate. Man has always played games.
So with that in mind couldn?t you take an activity such as an electronic game and make a competition out of it. The best gamers aren?t always the fat ones. Go tell some Japanese kid that when he kicks your ass at the arcade. Hand eye coordination and a quick problem solving mind are what make the best gamers. Some times it?s not the most intelligent person in the world that?s the best at a gamer. If I could make a living being a gamer YEAH! Everyone?s freaken dream I could honestly say I would never have a bad day at the office again.
I would pay money to go to a video game competition put it at a big conference setter have game and technology vendors in the front. Have some giant screens showing the highlights have a screen with the best teams. Have some freaken hot girls in outfits supporting the teams ?cheerleaders but without the cheering? . Don?t forget Beer and hot dogs. You have a freaken event there. Have each team bring there own equipment. If it’s done right and organized right hmmmmm did someone say Bank???

Jeff says:

Re: No Subject Given

I am a serious gamer. I have been since I was 4 or 5 years old. I watched video gamers then and I play and watch them now. To see another person be almost undefeated in a shooter game like Halo is awesome. I would get cable to watch tournaments I don’t care about sports games but Racing, some Fighting, and almost all Shooter games are awesome to watch people just massacre each other. If you can say you never watched people duke it out for the title amongst your friends or peers then you aren’t a serious gamer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, this could have been an interesting comment thread until a couple mental midgets defecated all over it.

The idea of professional video games has been around for a while now (CPL, Fatal1ty, etc) and the stack money going into it is getting taller and taller with each event. While it won’t approach the level of football and other pro sports, to write it off as a “dumb american” idea is purely moronic. There’s money there, there’s definately an interest, and there’s interested backers. Given those three elements, the idea of professional gaming is going to continue to flourish and build momentum.

Akman says:

Re: Re: Re: The Teacher

Anwar actually it is American English not American unless you live in Illinois where they declared “American” as their official language in 1923. On the other hand there is no official language in United States of America at federal level but most states specify “English” as their official language. American English, British English are just different branches of English language.
Also you should not get so upset about the ‘their’ ‘there’ comment as its normal for most Americans not to know/speak different varieties of English as there are alot of them (American English, British English, Commonwealth English, Australian English, Canadian English, New Zealand English, Hiberno-English, Scottish English, Caribbean English, South African English, Jamaican English, Liberian English, Hong Kong English, Indian English, Malaysian English, Philippine English, Singapore English).
The harsh reply to your post was probably caused by your insult ‘Another dumb American idea’ not by your spelling. As it is true for most people, you also need to be open minded and be respectful to others.
By the way English is my second language as well. Thank you.
Sorry for posting an off topic message.

IT GUY (user link) says:

Re: No Subject Given

It’s about time. I mean its ok to watch grown men getting paid millions of dollars to play a childs game while scratching their balls and slapping other guys asses, so why not watch gamers play video games (without slapping other guys asses). I’d be more willing to go watch 2 hardcore gamers (or teams) go at it then i would go to a baseball game.

WoW says:

Re: No Subject Given

First of all online video games is one of the biggest means of entertainment right now. Millions of dollars are being made by companys, it is a gamers market. Take DELL for example they make XPS models of cpus and laptops now for both digital imaging and gamers. Online gamers who play in pro leagues like CPL are athletes. They train hard, they play awsome. Calling them fat geeks shows how you seriously aren’t seeing the full potential to this.

Jeff says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Bottom line is the definition of sport is 1 a : a source of diversion : RECREATION b : sexual play c (1) : physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2) : a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in. So what is athletic or better athlete a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina. So being schooled in the definitions it doesn’t say you have to meet all requirements it says OR so any activity engaged in for pleasure with a trained or skilled person requiring strength, agility, OR stamina is therfore and athlete and plays in a sport.Playing 5 hours of Halo can be quite stressful and requires stamina to keep going. So by definition if you make competition it is a sport and if the person as one of the required traits they are an athlete. I mean comeon some countries have paper, rock, scissors as a sport. So a competition of video games would be a sport.

40 yr old gamer says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

Do any of you so called gamers not follow gaming news?

There are already leagues, especially in Asia. There are Gamers in the US and Asia, and across the world who make a living playing video games in competitions. Some make in excess of $100k a year.
Also in Asia, these top gamers have Celebrity Status, and make top News in both the national and local news agencies in their countries.

BrattyB says:

No Subject Given

The way I see it, games until now have been designed only from a “player” perspective : how to display for a single player, for 2 players or more on the same screen, for multiple players on different screens, etc.
Now, if games were to be a sport with spectators, most games should have a “spectator mode” built-in by default : it would display the game without any interface except score, indicate who’s whom, place cameras smartly, alterning wide angles and close shots and so on…
That would mean extra development and conception for every game, so such a concept is more likely to sprout from game companies than just tournament promoters.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

If these guys have the cash they should set up an online spectator facility. Simple enough to click a live video stream and watch the events as they happen.
As most ppl have said though it will have limited interest so i’d expect it wouldnt cost much to provide this given the finite spectatorship.

As for the comment about WoW. Thats 1 guy. And he was probably worked to death via exhaustion rather than the game itself impacting him in any way. Rather dramatic wouldnt you say, to comment ‘he died from WoW’.

Dumb American yes, They are of course the first to jump on any potential cash-cow. But you cant deny games popularity and peoples competative nature.

The concept is arguably inevitable im afraid.

swimmer says:


1500 meter freestyle swimming is an olympic sport. Spectators see 8 guys swimming from one end to another for 15 minutes! If that’s a sport, anything can be a sport. Gamers are peaple who train (in a sense) and has certain skills, just like any athlet. One difference between computer games and swimming or athletics is that every year there would be something new.. but to me it feels more like a plus then a minus…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: swimming

I agree. Variance is a good thing. Its something to look forward to rather than ‘oh, that again. boring..’
The difference of tests could be attention span as well as skill. Many gamers can out-do military personnel with regard to attention stamina (think radar viewer. 20 mins then hes done. next. guarantees alertness).
Of course there is the potential for the classic and latest/greatest games and strategies etc. Team working, Solo play. Large group work too (20-40). Say a scenario is developed. A group must defeat a foe as fast as possible. Fastest group wins.
Games are not limited to just who’s the strongest or fastest as with real life sports.

Akman says:

Re: Re: believe it or not its inevitable

I think everyone is giving good points about the topic but I belive some people are underestimating the technology and how fast its evolving. Maybe some of you have seen the movie “The Island” in which there was a virtual fight scene in xbox2000000 or something. Believe it or not these are going to be real very soon. There is already alot of work done in virtual reality. Even with the current technology, we can see some people making their living by plaing computer games in tournaments in asia. And I mean people making serious money (a very skilled player makes over 100,000 dollars a year). I am sure the orgainizations who set up the tournaments are not giving away millions of dollars for the hell of it either so there is already a spectator group to make money from. I have seen a basketball arena full of spectators watching gamers below!!!
If we look at what makes an athlete special I belive we can say that it is Skill/Talent, Focus, Dedication, Training, and Race Strategy. If you think about it, most and in some cases all of these are necessary in some video games, thats to be extremely good at it. Same as in sports. Lets say swimming. Millions and millions of people in the world knows how to swim but to be a Michael Phelps (5 time world record holder, the youngest world record holder in history at age 15 blah blah…) you need to be pretty darn good with all the things I have described above.
Yes, It sure is different but every sport is different and you have to be an idiot to compare golf and football or cheerleading and boxing. Like it was said before variance is a good thing.
I also agree with the spectator mode comment. Current games dont really have a way to watch everything that is going on in the game. Some do have the ghost mode where you can float around after you are dead but that sure is not a good way to watch everything (impossible to see everthing in big map). With better spectator implementations game watching might become quite entertaining for alot of people.
As a summary I believe virtual sports/games are on their way and inevitable…

Non-Fat/Geeky Gamer says:

Only Fat Geeks?

Just for everyone’s information, fat geeks are not the only people who are loyal to their time spent on videogames. For instance, I am intellegent but im a average joe not a geek, my group of buds are the guys that make the jokes that the victim is totally oblivious to the meaning, resulting in them becoming even more humiliated. So i just want it to be known, that not just fat geeks like the exhiliration you get when your blowing up that last convo truck on SOCOM 3, or getting a killtacular to end a match of Halo 2. Let it be known that we too would take to videogames turning into a spectator sport. I watch my buds for hours on end sometimes. Thanks

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Only Fat Geeks?

or that americans are just grosely over weight i seem to agree with that. It also seemed fitting that the comments came from some one in the american military, they seem to think any one in friendly armies are still enemies.

You would be labelled as a team killer in the video gameing world that that offence. Mind you you probably are.

And as tou your weight training. do you not know that real power comes from the whole body and not from the muscles. You may be able to hurt someone with a punch, but not to the same extent as a Shaolin monk. and in your terms they are puny, all skin and bones

Jeff says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Only Fat Geeks?

Americans are in better health than most countries yes. That is what you mean by overwieght now granted anything about 22% body fat for males is fat and 32% for females. I also do study in the works of martial arts and others the mind is very powerful i agree with you but in america as you refer is alot different than other countries and if you tried using you mind to dodge a bullet then you would fail. This is the Matrix you can’t just be strong minded and survive. I am a marine and still have never been in a fist fight nor killed anyone combat or otherwise. I am not big on the whole issue of killing. However when it comes to the means of surviving it is you or them. I agree with you in many aspects but you are shallow and narrow minded. Also quite predjudice which I think is very rude. I know this is all off the subject but the average male in america is 6′ and weighs about 160-180 average female is about 5’4 and weighs about 125-135. In the end I support any gaming that is competitive as it is only a game, and can be quite invigorating.

Justin (user link) says:


We have a problem as of late. We want to call any type of competition a sport.
The truth is what distances sport from competition is physical exertion. Now with NASCAR, Poker, and many other newly defined ‘sports’ you can make a case that there is physical exertion. I don?t happen to agree.
I just think there are folks out there that really need competition to be a sport so they can feel that it’s comparable to other more traditional sports.
Someone mentioned the 1500 isn’t a sport. Well by actual definition it is.
Anyway, if it makes you feel better, you can abuse the word sport all you want, we do that more often then not (abuse words.) So enjoy, because a videogame is as much of a sport as: Poker, NASCAR (racing), Hunting, Fishing, or masturbation is.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

If auto racing is a sport, then playing video games is a sport. Both require lots of practice, pinpoint control of expensive and high-speed technology, exacting hand/eye co-ordination, unwavering concentration, and the stamina to sit for long periods of time.
If ice dancing and curling are sports, then video games are sports.
If two of the main components of the competition are how attractive the competitor looks and how attractive the costume s/he is wearing looks, then video gaming is a sport.
If ANYTHING where the winner is determined by judges (including boxing) is a sport, then video gaming is a sport.

Jeremy says:

Avid gamer :)

I work 50 hr weeks, go hunting, fishing, take care of my family, and yes I am also an AVID GAMER. There is nothing wrong with it being a spectator sport. I mean come on people (ANONYMOUS COWARD included), pool and bowling is considered sports. Just remember that next time a relative is on the operating table, that the best surgeons in the world are avid gamers. There have been studies proven that if a heart surgeon plays games, his level of his hands are a lot better for running the little camera that goes up your leg to your heart, so he causes little or no damage to the insides.

Unbelievable says:

It isn't a sport....

Video games aren’t a sport, hands down. Sport – athletic games or tests of skill undertaken primarily for the diversion of those who take part or those who observe them. [answers.com] They aren’t athletic games. You don’t need to be athletic to play them. So unless you are saying we should change the definition of atheltic and sport, then video games aren’t one.

Mike says:

Re: It isn't a sport....

Wow… Umm… “… games or tests of skill…” That sounds to me like some Halo 2… As for whether or not there will be videogame tournements… There are tons already… There are already profesional videogamers… And they are awesome at the games they play… Unreal Tournement already has alot of tournements… And how old is that game? Pretty old… Halo already has tons of tournements… and you can win some pretty neat shit… So for all of you un-accepting dicks who think like this fool, grow up and quit acting like some old wrinkly war vet. Definitions change… Life changes… And for the European prick talking about how the average joe american is fat, how wrong you are… I doubt you have ever been to Southern California… or maybe Phoenix Arizona… Or the Florida Coasts… Or maybe ANY coast in the US… Yea… The ladies in those areas are FINE… aint no ugly brit wit fucked up teath…

Unbelievable says:

Re: Re: It isn't a sport....

You need to chill out, because you don’t know what you are talking about. America is the most obese country on Earth, sure parts of it aren’t, but on average it is. Also, did you read the last part of my post about changing the definitions. I said that is what will be needed to include video games. So instead of ranting like some uneducated moron, who thinks its cool to swear, come up with something insightful to say.

IT GUY (user link) says:

Re: It isn't a sport....

Video games aren’t a sport, hands down. Sport – athletic games or tests of skill undertaken primarily for the diversion of those who take part or those who observe them. [answers.com] They aren’t athletic games. You don’t need to be athletic to play them. So unless you are saying we should change the definition of atheltic and sport, then video games aren’t one.

Ummm are you forgetting about such so-called sports as Golf, or bowling? Where is the athletics in that? And if you say its in the wrist or arms, GUESS WHAT, gamers use their wrists and arms as well. Hell some even use their legs (DDR). Video games are just as much a sport as any other game.

And by your definition “tests of skill undertaken primarily for the diversion of those who take part or those who observe them.”

I would say 99% of video games are tests of skill, and I play them as a diversion. So yeah video games CAN be a sport.

Unbelievable says:

Re: Re: It isn't a sport....

And by that definition, then they aren’t sports either, because to be good enough to compete at a professional level it becomes a job. It isn’t a diversion then. Bowling and golf require athleticism, you will be sore after playing those sports for a very brief period of time. I play video games on a regular basis. I enjoy them and probably will never stop, but it is absurd to call them a sport. I play sports as well, and there is a difference you don’t NEED to be athletic to be good video games. You NEED to be athletic to play sports and be good at them.

IT GUY (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: It isn't a sport....

Bowling and golf require athleticism, you will be sore after playing those sports for a very brief period of time.

There are certain games that can make someone sore after playing. Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Light Gun Games, Fishing Rod games… My whole point is if we are willing to pay grown men millions to play children’s games like baseball, its only fair that grown men get paid millions to play video games.

Duane (user link) says:

Not a sport - but similar to chess

I have watched as my 15 year old son has clasped on to this idea and wants to be a “pro” (for lack of a better word). At first I was skeptical however the following seems to be there. They have turnaments every two weeks and know the callsigns of the top players.

No – it is not a sport. By contrast, when he was 7 he was the Canadian Grande national Champion for BMX. I liken it to chess, bridge, poker etc.

It probably will continue to evolve. Not my cup of tea.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

I was lighting my farts on fire last night. It requires a fair amount of flexibility and excellent hand/colon coordination. And it was very entertaining for my guests. Does that make it a sport?

Video games are for losers. Video game competitions are for huge fucking losers. It’s like being the gold medal winner at the special olympics or the coolest guy at a star trek convention. Either way, you are still a retarded, socially challenged geek.

J. says:

Vid games... A sport?

First, this has already happened.

In Korea, and China I believe, computer games are a sport. There are corparate sponsors supporting players as they play Starcraft (Korea’s national pass time, like Baseball is to Americans, or Cricket is to English, or Soccer is to Brizil). Coca-cola sponsored the opening of World of Warcraft.

As for “people die playing these games”. Please tell me that nobody ever died playing football… Or baseball. Nobody commited sucide because their team didn’t get . It happens. People do become obsessed with trivial things. Heck I bet someone, somewhere killed themselves because their DOG didn’t get “best in show” (*sniff* but Muffy is the cutest poodle here!)

As for “it’s a hobby”… One time Baseball was “just a hobby”. As all other sports. You think football/soccer started with sponsors and people who played the game for a living? Nope it started with HOBBY GROUPS.

And sports seems to cover anything that takes skill. That’s why NASSCAR is considered a sport (tho I don’t get it personaly).

Tank says:

They should be a sport

I am writing a term paper on this subject and i feel that video games sould be considered a serious sport. If you really look at the facts video games are more usefull in todays society that any other “sport” playing a video game and doin it well takes just as much skill and dedication as hitting a ball or shooting hoops. Even the military is using video games to train to train their troops and most schools are using them to teach their students. Thats alot more than can be said for baseball or soccer.

Pox says:

I vote yes

Everyone has made very interesting comments. Below is a link MLG website which will give you an idea on where this “pro gaming” thing is headed. If you dont like football then dont watch it, if you dont like halo then dont watch it. With or without you this is only going to grow.

Oh and by the way…Im not fat =)

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