Blizzard and Riot attended the International Olympic Committee’s e-sports summit this past weekend

    
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Over the last year, we’ve seen a ramp-up of high-level chatter about bringing e-sports to the Olympics. Last summer the co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee told the AP that it was considering video gaming for the 2024 program in France. The International Olympic Committee then said “competitive e-sports could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports.” Most recently, the IOC held a forum on e-sports to gather “gaming executives, players, sponsors and event organizers with a goal of building relationships between Olympic leaders and the esports industry” in Lausanne, Switzerland.

That event was Saturday, and thanks to the Esports Observer, we have a good idea how the movement is coming along and how seriously some of the big online gaming companies are taking it. For example, during the World of Esports panel, Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime said that thanks to streaming, we’ve seen “exponential growth for the industry,” leading to a “real inflection point for esports.”

“[Folks who] hadn’t really been paying attention to the esports phenomenon are now interested. So what we have, is that for the first time ESPN will be broadcasting the Overwatch League on prime-time, which we’ve not really seen before. We have sponsors paying attention. It’s a very attractive demographic. It’s 20 to 40 years younger than most traditional sports. It’s early, and I think it is just going to keep growing from here.”

Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent’s position was more global, as he envisions “getting governments involved” and helping e-sports become more “legitimised” by “recognising esports as its own discipline, creating the right regulations and the right systems to enable us to really grow” – specifically dealing with the politics of e-sport athlete travel. “There are certain territories that are less sophisticated in that regard, and that makes it hard for us to grow the sport in certain areas of the world.”

Further reading on e-sports in international sporting events:

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Slaasher

I guess the question for me in all of this is…. which game(s) do they decide to go with in something like the Olympics and how do they make that decision?
Whichever company puts forward the most money? (said only half “tongue in-cheek”)

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BDJ

I for one hope that eSports “grows up” a little bit.

Having teams like Unicorns of Love and Supa Hot Crew. Its really hard to take it seriously. It has always reeked of the first go around of the XFL with “he hate me” as one of the players names.

I guess in the olympics it wouldn’t matter as you represent your country, but I hope it brings change to the eSports scene as a whole.

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Danny Smith

“M-mr Morheim? please stop salivating. The puddle is warping the desk”

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Zora

I suppose the small detail where sports are not owned by anyone whereas “e-sports” companies publishing whatever game gets admitted actually own it and everything involving it and surrounding it (which by default is against the olympics’ spirit) is easily glossed over when the only sound they can hear is that of hard currency pouring from the heavens…

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Loopy

That’s an interesting perspective that i haven’t really thought about before. Although i would argue that even sports are not as “pure” as they used to be. There is no way one could become a pro just by picking up a ball any more. They would have to be part of a tiered system of teams and clubs, all of which are for-profit organizations. And even though they don’t technically “own” a sport, they have a great deal of influence.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Just remember folks, sports is spelled M O N E Y.

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Hirku

M-O-O-N, that spells money, laws yes!