State of the Union: Professional Video Gaming *Please don’t yell at me disclaimer: any views expressed are not a criticism on the merits of the professional video gaming landscape, the highly capable competitors or their fans (well maybe some of their fans). The International concludes with a $10 million prize pool. Evo 2014 continues to highlight the most skilled fighting game contestants in the world. MLG suspends a player for poor conduct and a Hearthstone tournament attempts to segregate competitors by gender. Despite the similarities and drama which occur within eSports and professional basketball, soccer, football and baseball there will always be one major difference…eSports aren’t a sport. Mainstream Acceptance The terminology eSports is fundamentally flawed. It modifies the existing word to show that it is different than traditional sports but still wants to be considered a sport. Either it is a sport or isn’t. If fans truly believed that eSports were a sport they would never use the term eSports. The decision to add the letter “e” alters the definition of sports. People don’t call track and field an rSport (because it mostly involves running) or boxing an fSport (the “f” stands for fighting). These are sports, because that is the accepted terminology. This isn’t the case with video games. Nor should it be. By claiming video games are an eSport, fans are attempting to legitimatize the competition but still distancing it from other sports. This is like an outsider who desperately wants to be part of the in-crowd, but still segregating themselves as above it all. Professional video gaming deserves better. Those who demand video games are a sport are saying the competitors are jocks. They are devaluing the prestige of being a professional video game player because the man-on-the-street doesn’t care. But he does care about real sport stars. People who want these players to be called athletes and the tournament a sport are looking for mainstream acceptance. Instead of reveling in the accomplishments and skills of the world’s greatest, they are hoping that time on ESPN will show the world that this is a true sport. Instead of being proud of the accomplishments of the industry, they want the world to be proud of the industry. But acceptance doesn’t come from outside forces. Physical Activity There is a large amount of skill, dedication and training necessary to be a professional player. Many fans dream of being paid to play video games all day (; less people are able to accomplish this goal than play basketball professionally. The industry is difficult to break into and only those on the peak of performance can survive, but this doesn’t make it a sport. It is a competition. Jeopardy is a competition. Knowing the correct answer is only one step necessary to ensure victory. Contestants also must be able to hit the button fastest for the opportunity to answer the question. The same occurs in professional video games. Players know how to win the game, but they must hit the button(s) fastest for the opportunity to gain victory. No one is arguing that Jeopardy is a sport. Humble Beginnings Professional video gaming is in the first stages of development. Football of today is almost unrecognizable to the game played when it was first invented. The terminology eSports is trying to distance itself from these competitions being called a game. The debate regarding the terminology “eSports” won’t exist in the years to come because video games will develop their own language and outgrow the modern vernacular. Instead of educating consumers of the actual difference, organizers of these activities are trying to modify an existing terminology that is accepted to describe the tournament. It’s understandable that they communicate this way. Just think of all the video game reviews that say Destiny is Borderlands + World of Warcraft + Halo. People are able to digest information easiest by comparing it to known concepts. eSports is following this same pattern. It is using the current dialect to define its existence. As time goes on, this won’t be necessary. Future generations will grow up with dreams of playing DOTA 8 professionally just like kids aspire to be professional baseball players. The two will exist in parallel and be accepted. One will be a sport, the other will be….we’ll see in the future. Level Up, Friends!