A while back I discussed whether or not esports should get into the Olympics or not. I’ve been touching on the subject few times of during the past few years, throw Olympics to the search bar. Now, the Olympics committee has made a definite statement in negative, but for all the wrong reasons.
The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach won’t allow video games, or esports for the matter, to enter the Olympics before violence is removed. To quote;
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.
This is, of course, rather bullshit reason.
Games don’t promote violence. They may contain and even glorify it to some extent, but it no less play than any of combat sports. If we consider boxing and other harsher contact sports, electronic games are less violent than sports in general due to the lack of any sort of physical damage or contact. Visually, electronic games are more visceral for sure, but on comparison of promoting violence games and sports are not on the same level; sports has caused far more violence through the history than any game, even if we start counting only from the genesis of modern electronic games. This is no real argument of course, but it is an inane as what Bach offers.
As for discrimination, no electronic game promotes discrimination. I am sure this is more or less just showcasing how inclusive the Olympics is, but just as Bach’s own organisation, electronic gaming is all about how good you are. You won’t be getting into any teams or play over a championship if you don’t have the merit for it. Whether or not Bach truly believes that electronic games is dicks-only club, he couldn’t be more wrong. It’s just that men and women tend to like different kinds of games and there’s nothing wrong in that.
Furthermore, Bach says a game, which is rather interesting. If he finds a game that would truly promote violence and discrimination, then why not pick up another that doesn’t? This shouldn’t even be mentioned, but games can’t do either really, only their consumers and developers can. They are inanimate objects after all.
Killer game is rather old-fashioned way to describe any game with excessive killing and violence, essentially any modern R-18 title from God of War and Devil May Cry. Carmageddon and the like fall into this category as well. Anything with excessive killing, really.
Effectively, what Bach wants to get through, is that due to the visual nature of video games’ contest, they can’t be accepted to the Olympics. Well, outside him pandering the same shit everybody who seems to hit certain clique at his age, but that’s essentially what it is. He even boils it down to a point;
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.
This is anthropomorphising games and game characters. While there is an applicable argument between the lines, games are about as much killing someone as any combat sport is. Nobody dies in an electronic game, they’re digital objects after all.
The true argument Bach makes is that the depiction of contest is uncivilised. To him and the committee, they’re a lesser sort of game to play. Make no mistake, this is a haughty high-stance they’re taking, considering the Olympics to be at the peak of cultural ladder near or at the top of the crowning position. The standards Bach sets up for electronic games can’t be met during his lifetime, simply due to the cultural gap between the people who consume sports and people who consume esports. There is overlap, make no exception, yet consider for a moment the stereotypical views about people who do and watch sports against people who play and watch electronic games. There you find what Bach drives after rather than the PR platitudes he puts out.
In the same breath, Kenneth Fok of Asian Electronic Sports Federation mentions American gun control and access to firearms to be part of the problem, which is another pandering platitude, which has no bearing on the subject. This comes just a shooting incident in a Madden tournament in Florida, twisting the two together despite both faulting the aforementioned rather than esports. While this blog shouldn’t take part into the whole gun control debate, it is far larger problem that ties deeper into society than just how guns are controlled. That is extremely easy and lazy way out to avoid the harsher issues that would take far longer time to sort out.
Whether or not esports got into the Olympics doesn’t matter, that’s not the issue here. The issue here is the continuing misconception about electronic games and violence, a discussion that has taken many forms in the culture. It’s not just electronic games either, considering violence and pinball were associated with each other, with the same applying to classic penny arcades and other similar establishments. The difference between high-class sports and everyday Joe’s coin cabinet in the cultural ladder and class difference can be felt in Bach’s argumentation. While some would see this a stretch, do keep in mind that electronic games, video games especially, are cultural continuation and carries the same spot in the general culture landscape as their predecessors. To put it rather harshly, let the peons play their games, the nobility shall play tennis.
It wold be possible for a game designed specifically for the Olympics to be accepted, but that’d be putting the merits of video games into question as legit format on their own. Even more so as an art form. Rather than trying to appeal to the Olympics or other similar events and organisations for legitimacy considering gaming, gaming should keep trucking forwards and find itself properly. Despite what Bach wants to think, gaming is, ultimately, just as civilised activity as sports.