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.

Accurate portrayals, in my Smash Bros? Ha, barely.

Far too often you’re faced with a service people who are simply far too headstrong in their own view and opinion, preventing the maximised customer satisfaction. This is a problem with the creative fields that will always be there, mostly because of the human nature. This leads to situations where the ends and means of the provider are set first and the customer and his needs wants are left as a secondary thoughts. You’ll see this happening a lot with people who have a some sort of high status in their field, like James Cameron or Miyamoto.

Sometimes the customer does fight back and often the service provider will argue against them. This is inherently normal and endorsing discussion to open further possibilities the customer had no thought beforehand is something that doesn’t happen too often. However, when the service provider throws a hissy fit, a temper tantrum and proclaims his vision as the only solution and how it cannot be modified, adapted or changed to meet the ends better, the image of the provider will be tarnished and further co-operations may become uncertain. Attacking your customers with your own bias and views is almost suicidal, especially if you work for someone else and are representing your employer.

Incidentally, this is sort of thing gamers have been facing from the gaming press for the three last months. It’s almost universal.

In game design, there are multiple points where the customer wants can be met, like inclusion of certain characters or character archetypes. Forcing the developers’ own decisions over the wanted content is something that should always be carefully thought out, as this means the game has content the consumer may not want at all. For example, there are few RPGs out there that essentially force a level of romance on the player character, despite some of the players not giving a damn about this sort of dating simulator stuff. Sometimes content may be cut for many reasons, but seeing how many games see a complete shift in tone, structure and even in genre, we can blame incoherent origins of the project. Well made plan is half the victory, after all. It saves both money, time and resources. Still, in reality there are variables that may kick in and can bust even the most well thought plan.

Super Smash Bros. For Console X has been in the news with its release, and Sakurai has come out as a selfish man his interviews as of late, calling the customers as children and how they do not understand whatever they are criticising him about. As much as he creates negative promotion for the game and the company he represents, blind fandom has not stopped Smash Bros. selling like hotcakes. Then again, reading the more objective experiences with the software has convinced me enough that the series has become stale on its own rights. It’s also laughable that Sakurai in past criticised other Nintendo employees for reusing resources from past titles in their new productions, but Super Smash Bros. For Console X does just that.

It’s better to disregard what Sakurai says and concentrate what he does or doesn’t do.

Smash Bros. fandom has a set of people who have been wanting to see Ridley from Metroid as a playable character for some time now. Consumers been discussing how he could be implemented into the series to a large extent, even to the point of some making mock-ups. Actually, Ridley has been successfully modded into Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Sakurai’s reasoning for not including Ridley as a boss character are as follows; Ridley is too large in silhouette size and changing that would mean he would not be an accurate portrayal of the character, and Ridley could break the game balance. These are, of course, bullshit reasons to no end. Let’s see how accurately some of the Smash Bros. contestants have been portrayed.

What Sakurai could mean with accurate portrayal is how they are portrayed in their modern iconic look. Almost all the characters in Smash Bros. have seen changes in their looks throughout the years, and the handful of characters that still retain their original design have been amped up and pumped up. If the characters were portrayed accurately, Mario and Luigi would have no denim texture on their overalls. Both would also smile more in the game, like in the original Smash Bros., and the fire they use would look far more cartoony. Their Final Smashes are also completely out of the blue, having no consistency with past portrayals of the characters.

With the Zelda entries, the characters have more or less followed the latest iteration of the series and thus their redesigns have reflected that. That’s all good and dandy, but then you have to remember that Zelda has not been Shiek in any other main game but Ocarina of Time. If the portrayal would be accurate, the design this Zelda would have should reflect the Ocarina version of herself, which it doesn’t.

Then you have Ganondorf, who has been a clone of Captain Falcon since the beginning, thus having an incorrect portrayal how he fights. In the original Zelda, Ganon warps around and has magic shot at Link. In A Link to the Past, he warps around, shoots magical fire with the help of his trident, jumps to collapse parts of the battle field, uses magical firebirds and other tricks. None of these are seen in Smash Bros. In Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf initially just floats around and shoots magic, soon to be transformed into Ganon and wields two swords. Wind Waker’s edition of old man Ganondorf similarly uses two swords, but this time has sort emphasized dual wielding style with them. Twilight Princess Ganondorf has a roaming boar form, which later can be seen as his Final Smash, and yet the final battle is a sword fight. Hell, initial Ganondorf entry in Melee was more modelled after the Space World 2000 demo where we see Ganondorf with his then-iconic sword fighting Link. There is ample of stuff Sakurai and his team could do with Ganondorf to make him far more interesting, unique and accurate portrayal. Ganondorf is one of the most inaccurate portrayal in the whole series.

I’ve spoken before how Mega Man’s portrayal is absolutely inaccurate, so I won’t go into that any further. However, I will add that if Sakurai wanted to make an iconic Mega Man, he would most likely have used how CAPCOM has been portraying him since 1995 with high influence from Hayato Kaji’s Mega Man 8 designs a year later. However, Mega Man 9 and 10 were throwbacks to late NES Mega Man design style, so it would have been more applicable to portray him in that fashion. The best middle ground of these two design would have been Ryuji Higurashi depictions in Rockman Complete Works 1,3 and 6. Incidentally, he was also the illustrator in 9, but as mentioned, due to the throwback nature of the games his own visual flavour is far more toned down. Higurashi clearly has professional blood coursing through his veins. Thus, one can argue that Mega Man has no one iconic portrayal and is recognisable with any redesign as long as it follows the silhouette. However, this would not be accurate and Smash Mega Man is halluva far from being an accurate portrayal of any version of Classic Mega Man. I won’t go into attacks, as that would make this post unnaturally long.

With almost every entry we could rip their portrayals open, less so with characters that are from newer games. Saying Smash Bros. characters have been developed with the aim of character accuracy is on the same level as feverish babble. I have no wishes to start looking any more deeply into these characters, as its not worth spending my time on it.

As we’ve seen, Sakurai’s statement how they want to stay true to the character portrayal is all kinds of craps. It can’t be even sad that they want to portray the characters from the latest games, there are slew of characters that simply don’t do that. It is apparent that Sakurai wants to portray the characters as he sees them in his own mind. The size excuse is weak as we all know sizes in Smash Bros. mean nothing. Comparatively, none of the characters are correct sizes with each other outside few human characters, and even the you have the likes of Mario and Luigi screwing up things. It’s more applicable to say that all these characters have similar height function as Evangelions, where they change their size according to the needs of the scene.

Originally, Ridley was about a head higher than Samus in Metroid. From there on, his size has been varied wildly from game to game. Hell, Ridley and Mecha Ridley in Zero Mission are different sizes and that’s within one game. If the explanation for that size difference is because of his rebuilding, then what keeps Ridley from being smaller? One could even give a proper reasoning for this in-universe by saying how the Space Pirates have managed to miniaturise their power sources while adding more power. Or just follow the NES line; make him slightly larger than Samus and limited flight while keeping his modern design. Voilá, problem solved and Ridley keeps his portrayal intact. You can even stick with the NES and Zero Mission portrayal of his attacks to limit his flight, rather than use Other M or Prime series attacks.

Then again, Sakamoto would most likely pull the plug if they’d begin to handle Ridley in a proper manner.