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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

No Olympic Future for eSports Until Violence Is Out

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I don't like Thomas Bach.

The Olympics have a ton of events outside of... THE Olympics, at least, if you trust the International Olympic Committee (IoC) ran by Thomas Bach. We've previously described Thomas Bach as akin to JEB! Bush, someone who doesn't understand what the Olympics is about, and someone that acts like he rules the entire Earth. So when Thomas Bach speaks, we may or may not listen. But he just had some words to say about videogames, so, yeah, I guess I'll bite.

Since Asia doesn't feel represented in the Olympics enough between 2018's PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games and 2020's Tokyo Olympic Summer Games, the continent just concluded its 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, which is one of those events recognised by the International Olympic Committee I alluded to in the opening. Thomas Bach, as president of the International Olympic Games, was there and had an interview with The Associated Press about lots of topics, including eSports at the Olympics.

The Asian Games 2018 were notable for having eSports available “as a demonstration sport,” meaning it was there for a sort of proof of concept. There were six games: Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Pro Evolution Soccer, and StarCraft II. (As you might expect, South Korea won StarCraft II without losing a single game.)

That's a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), a real-time strategy, a card game, another MOBA, a sports game, and then another real-time strategy.

What did Thomas Bach have to say? Well, he is not saying that eSports are not sports, but he has a problem with being “civilized” and about “Olympic values”...

“We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination. So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted. Of course, every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people. But sport is the civilized expression about this. If you have egames where it's about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.” 
StarCraft II Asian Games 2018 Nice Taiwan MeomaikA Vietnam Protoss Zerg violence eSports
Here's a screenshot of StarCraft II between Taiwan's Nice and Vietnam's MeomaikA in the semi-finals.
Note the blood and guts and destruction between the (humanoid) Protoss and the Zerg factions.

Clearly, if it bleeds or portrays combat that isn't a “civilized expression” then it somehow violates the “Olympic values.” That's going to cut out these real-time strategy games, the MOBAs, every shooter, the whole fighting-game community... that's basically every eSport genre besides ones portraying already-existing sports, like the Madden NFL tournament that happened and got cancelled due to an out-of-game shooting. (Note: American football, the game portrayed in the Madden NFL series, isn't an Olympic sport.)

At that point, if the only allowable eSports are those portraying the same sports that are already in the Olympics (and we know that the eSport chosen will just be representing one of the worst sports ever, soccer), the whole thing seems pointless, doesn't it? Guess we'll need to say bah to Bach, and wait for him to change his mind or for him to quit ruling the world so someone else can come in.

The Asian Games also weren't the first time they had videogames at an official International Olympic Committee event. We covered the Special Olympics this year, and the Xbox tournament there. They played Forza Motorsport 7, a game that isn't supposed to be about killing somebody.

Thomas Bach also said he hasn't returned to Brazil since the Rio 2016 games, and referred to the country as in a “crisis”. That's an assessment that I fully agree with, based on my own time in Rio de Janeiro

Ludwig would like to see the sport of four square become an Olympic sport before any eSport does, but he would be a lot more interested in KoopaTV having Olympics coverage outside of the opening and closing ceremonies if there was an eSports component that wasn't a soccer game. Do you think that eliminating violence is an important Olympic value? Does Thomas Bach not understand the gaming community? Or is he overreacting to the Jacksonville shooting that happened? Let KoopaTV know in the comments, and those comments may even make their way to Bach. (...Don't count on it.)

eSports still lacks an Olympic future in 2021, but videogames are used as a tool to enable a virtual Olympic experience instead...

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