No killer games for Olympics

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.

Video games in Olympics?

Tony Estanguet, the co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, seems to know there is some kind of writing on the wall and has held talks with the eSports representatives and the IOC about them joining the Olympic games in 2024. While he argues that digital prowess should be considered a legit sport if Olympics is to maintain its relevancy. Estanguet should look elsewhere first and begin to work on removing the corruption and the financial strain the games cause to a nation.

The idea of digital games in Olympic games is not too far-fetched. After all, the two do share the core common root in games and competition. However, despite their spirit common ancestry, the two beasts are very much different in the end. Olympics have a history on themselves that fetch respect alone, and in the core still aim to celebrate the physical fitness of the human body. Albeit with the healthy help of helping substances and loads of less than clean money. Nevertheless, sports does include activities like chess, but that never got into Olympics by that merit.

It’s all about money, really. If this news bit is to be believed, an eSport star makes money than your average Olympic athlete. With electronic game industry eclipsing Hollywood and movie industry at large in worldwide revenues and cultural impact to the point of political agendas being driven into the sub-culture through sheer force, it’s no wonder Estanguet would like to give this newfangled thing a careful, close look.

Not that the idea hasn’t been amused before, but that’s exactly why modern eSports scene has come to be. Not because it was regarded as sports worthy the Olympics to begin with, mind you. Money goes where the viewers are, and it would seem the newer generations do not value seeing people doings traditional sports (if you will in this context) on-screen, when they could see professional video game players raking in bucks and points like no other. Perhaps the biggest difference is between Olympics and eSports tournaments is that anyone could become a good player with few months time put into a game and compete in a tournament, whereas an Olympic athlete has to live the life. It’s not an easy life either, and not everybody can become the world champion in 100m dash. However, the chance of becoming a damn good Counterstrike player is much more attainable goal.

If electronic games would enter the Olympics via eSports, there would be further shift to appease the broadcasting companies and such even further than what they already are. Outfit bans would become a common practice within these tournament circles to adhere to the high standard Olympics and their broadcasters would demand, which would still be ridiculous considering the same channels would be airing gymnastics, swimming and hurdles, all sports with people in rather skimpy outfits. If eSports would enter Olympics, you can bet on companies changing their designs to fit these standards from the get go rather than sticking to their guns. After all, if we’re to count games as a form of art, then they should be able to present anything the author/s intend without censorship. What a riot.

Thomas Bach is on a high horse when he questionsed whether or not eSports would stand to Olympic rules and would respect the values of sports. They lost that long time ago themselves, but it’s the front what matters the most. He also mentions that the implementation of Olympic rules should be monitored and secured, which more or less can be shortened into They have to change to fit out agenda. The Olympics committee doesn’t see video games and sports and within this generation they never will. Furthermore, there is no reason to see video games as sports to begin with.

I bet there is behind the doors talk about gaming maturing or needing to mature before it can take its place among the higher cultural phenomena like the Olympics. As I’ve argued before, this is a fallacy and video games do not need, should not, prove themselves to be like other media formats or games to stand on their own. The value of games as themselves can not reach its mature point until its hardcore consumers start masturbating over it as art or sports, literal storytelling or other such forms included, and begin to treat electronic games as they are. It’s not going to happen over night or in a week. There needs to be a paradigm shift with time. Electronic games need to achieve similar status to that of poker (or cards in general), where it is universally accepted as a valid form of entertainment where there are possibilities of serious competition while offering the player/s to have a solitary game against the deck/game itself.

No, video games should not be included into the Olympic games. If anything, eSports should create its own official Olympiad similar to Chess Olympiad. Hell EVO essentially is that for fighting games, and they even offer Special Olympics equivalent with the inclusion of Smash Bros. I know, that’s a terrible joke, but I know at least one you chuckled. This format could be easily expanded and included in a larger event, where you could have all the big names in town within the same Olympics-styled event, with e.g. Starcraft being played all the while you have people competing for the next high score result of Donkey Kong. It is a possibility, it just would take loads of money to be organised. Seeing how much money there is overall within these competitive gaming circles, it wouldn’t be a far fetched idea.

We could throw in an additional question whether or not there is a need for such an event. Video games shouldn’t need to be validated through Olympics, or an Olympics like event. Would it be better, in the end, if eSports would stay in somewhat similar form as it is now and naturally evolve to whatever shape it’ll be in the future? Whatever the direction may be in the future, rest be assured either one will shape how the games will look and play, with distinct lack of that original artistic intent being replaced with intent of making the games more sports-like (e.g. overly balanced, but not fun fighting games) and sticking to rules set by a committee outside electronic games industry.