Is eSports Getting the Recognition It Deserves?

For decades now, people have been debating whether eSports and eSports players can be considered real sports and actual athletes. On one hand, some people are appalled when comparing gamers to football players or basketball players because they do not actually physically play sports. On the other hand, the argument is that there are various aspects of video games that do require teamwork, strategy, and skill, which align with other traditional sports. While the idea of eSports being recognized as real sports has been thrown out the window by many, in the past decade, dozens of countries have made massive strides to do the opposite.

Recognizing the Potential of eSports

Even today, you will see comments that eSports teams or eSports players shouldn’t be in the same category as real sports and athletes. However, the numbers paint a different picture. Many counties have seen the eSports’ market potential and have jumped to the conclusion that eSports is a real sport.

South Korea is one of the first, if not the first, countries that have backed eSports for years. Not only does the country recognize eSports as real sports, but it has been a vocal advocate and continuously encourages other countries to follow its steps. China was right next to South Korea and followed by declaring eSports as real sports back in 2003. They also validated gamers as real professionals and treated them as any other athlete.

The United States of America deemed eSports as an official sport back in 2013. As a matter of fact, the USA was the first country in the world to offer eSports players athlete visas. Before that, companies won’t even bat an eye. However, today, many of the same companies that ignored eSports are investing and funding multi-million projects and events.

Russia is another country that deems eSports real sports, having its own eSports federation. In 2020, there were approvals and documents signed for eSports to be incorporated into the school curriculum. One of the most recent countries to recognize eSports officially is Thailand. In September 2021, eSports was deemed an official sport in the Royal Thai Government Gazette. Some other counties that have officially recognized eSports are Ukraine, Italy, Brazil, Indonesia, North Macedonia, Serbia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, South Africa, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Georgia.

While others aren’t officially on the board, we do want to point out some countries where eSports has been more popular than ever. Those countries include Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Canada, and France. All of these countries have running eSports organizations in various games, including Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Dota 2, Valorant, FIFA, etc.

SEA GAMES

The Southeast Asian Games, or SEA Games as it is known, was one of the first major events or tournaments where eSports was considered a sports category. The nine-day event that was held in May saw southeast Asian countries go head-to-head in 10 different eSports categories. The games that were involved included League of Legends, League of Legends: Wild Rift for both men and women, PUBG Mobile Individual, PUBG Mobile Team, Mobile Legends Bang Bang, Arena of Valoran, Free Fire, FIFA Online, and CrossFire.

There were 11 countries that participated in the event, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. Most of the game categories were won by either Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, or Indonesia representatives.

For 2023, the SEA GAMES will be held in May once more; however, the host next year will be Cambodia. The games that will be played at the event are not yet posted. Nonetheless, it has been said that there could be some additions to the previous edition. We also expect to see new country teams joining the event.

Moving Forward

As time goes by, more and more countries are starting to understand why and how eSports are becoming so popular. There were times when even eSports teams couldn’t get investors on board, but today, companies are fighting to get a spot in a well-known organization. Gamers worldwide are pushing for their countries to accept and recognize eSports for the sport that it is and how beneficial it can be. There have even been talks for eSports to become involved in the Olympics, but for now, the pushback is too strong. Nevertheless, with technology improving daily and video games coming out more realistic and breathtaking, it shouldn’t be long until most countries jump on board.

Huynh Nguyen

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