(This is an editorial. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.)
Many of those who peruse the Complexity Gaming website may have seen a recent influx in posts by a certain character who calls himself “phunk”. Well, I am Brian “phunk” Wetz and I am here at Complexity to brighten your world, so to speak. I have been a professional writer for approximately two and a half years for various organizations, teams, and leagues around the eSports scene. If you have been around that long, you may remember me from Chicago Chimera where I worked alongside Complexity’s very own JetBlk and Eafra. Now, the next page of my saga is here at Complexity and I plan on being the best phunk the world has ever seen.
In my days as a Feature Writer for Chicago Chimera, I started the infamous series “The Phunk Aspect”. This series, colloquially referred to as the Aspect, is my longest lasting series and will be continued here for you all at ComplexityGaming.com. In this version of The Phunk Aspect, I will be outlining, explaining, and reasoning the arguments for and against competitive gaming as a sport and my final opinion on this topic and why my opinion is such. Do you believe gaming is a sport?
According to Dictionary.com and Merriam Webster, a sport is defined as an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature. In a general sense, this is the accepted definition across the world as to what makes a sport. However, through the years, this has changed. To many, today’s “sport” is an activity that arouses feelings of fun and competition between any number of persons. The media has even stooped so low to call Poker a professional sport. While that may be a little ludicrous, it fulfills one of the two requirements of the definition of a sport in that it is of a competitive nature. Today, the term sport is expanding beyond that of football, baseball, basketball, and those of the like to poker and especially gaming. The once sacred ideal of physical prowess in sports has moved onto requiring only a competitive nature.
Major league sports and sports on a professional level have found themselves in that position not only by the good graces of all parties involved, but the trials the sports faced and how these trials improved the sport. The most up-to-date trial in professional sports is the steroid conflict surrounding the MLB. This conflict has started to spread across the whole league and accusations of steroid use are being flung around as if they were nothing. Most accusations were taken seriously and certain players’ reputations and careers were ruined by the use of steriods The MLB is not lacking when it comes to punishing those who do not play fairly in their league. Events like this in professional sports allow the public to understand that not everything is perfect and that Murphy’s Laws applies: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. For a game to become a professional sport, the game had to go through at least one trial to prove its worth in the world.
Competition in video games has become a factor for most video game designers. When designing video games, the designers have to ask themselves if they want to make their game fun for just the average gamer or if they want to take it that one step further to make it a competitive game for league/tournament play. This is exactly what Valve did for the Counter-Strike series and what Activision did for the Call of Duty 1 & 2. With these breakthroughs, video gaming reached to a point beyond just a fun past time; it has become a job and a life activity. Today, and through hard work and many years of development, gaming has become one of the most competitive activities with teenagers and young adults. Just as in professional sports, gaming has not gotten to the point of a respected professional event by sheer ingenious and love.
Problems have always arisen in gaming and they will more than likely never stop. The reoccurring trouble with video games is consistent cheating by players on all levels: professional, veteran, and pubstar. Almost every league, tournament, and franchise has devised its own way to handle cheating and most have worked. The most recent case involving cheating on a high level involves two Optx players during a CEVO-Professional match. Both clowN and devour have been banned from CEVO for a year- a punishment they both deserve. Although this is a very public case of cheating and punishment, this chain of action occurs almost daily with cheaters and has almost become a past time for leagues with their Anti-Cheat programs. Cheating, however, is not and will never be, the only problem that gaming has faced.
Back in 2007, the Championship Gaming Series was founded and many famous players in a variety of games were signed on as the first players to be involved in the first televised professional league for video games. The CGS brought together players from all over the world to compete in a league designed like the major league sports leagues such as the NFL and NBA. Interestingly, The CGS only lasted for two seasons. These two seasons laid down great precedents for the future of professional gaming. For better or for worse, the CGS changed professional gaming and has changed the professional gamer.
I do truly believe that gaming can and should be considered a sport. It fulfills half of the requirement of becoming a sport: it is of a competitive nature. While not physically demanding, competitive gaming of any genre requires much concentration and superior coordination. Gaming just for fun or just to pass time is not a sport, but just a game. Ask any top gamer and they will tell you that they had to practice non-stop and dedicate an unimaginable amount of time to get where they are today. This exact formula is true for success in any other professional sport as well: Practice + Time + Dedication = Success. To that extent, the term eAthlete is perfectly acceptable and should be used when discussing all professional gamers.