Could games be included as early as 2020?

Is there a possibility of video games potentially being added to the list of Olympic events? Sure. Are we being realistic by asking that question? Probably not. The worst part about hope is it disappoints. A recent (optimistic) article in Forbes went into detail about the possibility of the inclusion of eSports in the summer games. Interviewed on the subject was Daniel Grzelak, CEO of Gamer Institute, an educational platform for professional gamers where they can hone their skills thanks to access to coaching staff, pro tips and videos. While a few excellent points were made, there's one thing the entire movement lacks: critical mass. Let me clarify: it's not that there aren't enough players who play games competitively (there are more gamers than curlers, surely), it's the lack of endorsement for the movement itself.

With a negligible few championing its cause, games, for the foreseeable future, will merely fall under the “entertainment” category. The industry itself is very commercialised, with publishers looking to make as much money in as short a period as possible. Most of the real innovation happens behind closed doors, while interesting ideas are often developed by independent game creators whose games primarily appeal to niche audiences, with a couple breaking through to the masses. Multiplayer experiences in commercial games are built to last a few months or a year at best — this needs to change since games geared towards multiplayer are usually favourites of the eSports crowd. And let’s not forget: the Olympics happen only once every four years. If critical mass is to be attained, all gamers and major publishers need to get involved in the process; not just eSports elitists who frown upon anything that's not Starcraft II or Counter-Strike 1.6 (a game that doesn't make Grzelak's cut anyway because of simulated violence).

The global eSports circuit seems to be in a perennial “next big thing” state. While there are isolated events across the world (MLG, Evo 2K, The International), there isn't a single governing body to administer competitive gaming. The lack of an international association is not going to help gaming's cause on the Olympic stage. Korea and America (from a commercialisation standpoint) are success stories, but these success stories will need to be replicated across the world, preferably by national governing bodies (and with standardisation) if gaming is to be taken seriously by the IOC. If one were to look at it realistically, however, do you really think the Olympic committee will include games before it does Chess (or at all)? That's right. Chess isn't an Olympic sport because it doesn't meet a fundamental requirement — it lacks physical activity. While gaming requires a substantial amount of dexterity and adaptiveness, it's simply not strenuous physically — unless you're counting Kinect and Wii games, of course.

Before we can dream of games in the Olympics, we need to start dreaming of a single gaming event on the scale of the Olympics, organised by an international governing body. There isn't a petition that you can sign for that, but there is one you can sign if you think video gaming should be an Olympic event. Head over to torchforgaming.org. It's a start.