The athlete of the future is armed with two things: a keyboard and mouse (maybe even a headset if you’re a pro).
While gaming may not be considered a legitimate sport today, the possibility of it being recognized as one is on the rise. With big name gaming events such as the World Cyber Games, Major League Gaming, The International and Evo, where millions of fans tune in to watch professional gamers make gaming magic happen right before their very eyes, gaming could just be the next big thing in the sporting world.
Consider this: in South Korea, Starcraft, a real-time strategy PC game, has become a huge part of their culture that tournaments are being held at coliseums with thousands of people gathered to watch their favourite gaming superstars in action. Professional gamers in Korea get six figure salaries to compete in international Starcraft tournaments. Because of its popularity (and huge benefits) Starcraft has already become a career opportunity. But of course not everyone can be a Starcraft champion. It takes an entirely different level of dedication that even some teams opt to live together and have designated training hours every day. The Starcraft phenomenon in Korea may sound a little extreme for other people but this is suffice to say that somewhere in this world, gaming might actually be a national sport.
Although South Korea may be ahead than the rest of the world, it won’t take long for other countries to follow. With the striking similarities of gaming and actual sports, there is no denying the likelihood of it becoming bigger than it already is.
People often think that gaming is so anti-social when it is actually the opposite. A lot of the games that are included in international gaming competitions involve team games such as Counter Strike or League of Legends where players must know the strengths and weaknesses of each member. In team matchups, communication is king. If you don’t talk to your fellow players or even forgo a plan before proceeding with a game, expect to lose. The same goes for team sports; team sports like soccer or volleyball where players constantly communicate with one another verbally and non-verbally during games to ensure that the play they made runs smoothly. This goes to show that the concept of teamwork lives both in and out of the console.
As the saying goes: practice makes perfect – this is precisely why athletes and professional gamers alike devote their time, energy and effort to be the best at what they do. Dr. Edward Thorndike, one of the pioneer Sport Psychologists, found that with constant practice, certain tasks can be performed effortlessly because the motor skills used in these tasks have already been stored in our brains. This is what we call muscle memory. Muscle memory doesn’t just exist in sports; it can be used in our everyday tasks like texting, driving, writing and even gaming. It might sound silly but it actually takes a whole lot of practice to memorize and know what keys to press in lightning speed fashion. If you have ever played a fighting game like Tekken or Street Fighter, you would know the insane 10 button combos that go along with those games. Memorizing an intricate button sequence and executing it at the right time is a lot harder than you think.
One of the biggest reasons why gaming has never made it out of the e-sport category is because of its lack of physical activity. Although staring at the screen while pressing some buttons might not sound tiring, many gamers can attest to that. Of course we don’t mean that gaming produces the same amount of physical exhaustion that comes with playing the entire nine innings of a baseball game. The kind of activity that gaming stimulates is purely mental; sort of like how chess and billiards are sports because of the amount of precision and strategic thinking that they entail. Similarly, playing games like Starcraft II or Dota 2 require strategy and tactical knowledge, not to mention quick reflexes. These games involve a lot of thinking about what the opponent is doing and using that to your advantage. The common misconception with gaming is that people think it’s all just about having fun and doing mindless tasks when in fact, communication, practice and critical thinking become central points that gaming revolves around.
In a time where technology’s peak has no limits, everything around us has changed even just a little. Movies can now be played on your mobile phone, internet access can be found virtually anywhere in the Metro so why can’t gaming be a sport? It may just be dream for many passionate gamers but in reality, gaming is slowly starting to take over. Yes, you heard it right. The age of gaming is upon us and the gaming revolution has already begun. Thanks to live streaming, fans can catch up on the latest gaming tournaments happening around the world. Whether you are at home or at your local sports bar, live streaming of games has now become possible because of the huge changes that gaming has gone through over the years. International gaming competitions already exist to begin with so it’s only going to be a matter of time before it becomes recognized as a sport. Before we know it, professional gaming teams will have their own jerseys and trading cards. Actually, maybe they already do. With the advances in the industry, gaming itself is definitely going to get bigger than it already is. So without further ado, let the games begin.