Thursday, July 23, 2009

More than Just Mario and Sonic at the Olympics?

That ceremony was equal parts impressive and terrifying. In a recent GameLife blog post for Wired, Tracey John spoke with four Olympic athletes, asking whether or not they felt gaming should be given consideration as an Olympic sport.

Despite two of the athletes identifying themselves as big gamers, none of them were ready to make any form of gaming an Olympic sport.  Canadian snowboarder Matthew Morison pointed out that many real sports get turned down, making it a contentious, slippery slope were gaming added to the calendar of events.  Lindsey Vonn, an American downhill skier, joked that – were gaming included in some form – she’d “definitely try to win an Olympic medal in virtual skiing.” 

Vonn’s comment got me thinking about the simulation aspect of modern gaming, and why it should prevent games from making a serious Olympic bid.  If a game is a representation of a skill already present in the Olympics (say, shooting a gun or sword fighting), there’s no way it should make the cut. 

I then started thinking about how I’ve never seen people play Chess at the Olympics, which would support arguments against something competitive yet uniquely game-y like Starcraft (despite its South Korean popularity).  But then I went to the “Recognised Sports” section of the Olympic website.  These are not Olympic-caliber sports, but are somehow close?  They support the Olympic Movement (whatever the hell that is).  Chess is on there.  As is Life Saving, something called DanceSport, and Orienteering (which is kind of like racing on foot or a bike but there’s an element of boy-I-hope-I’m-not-fucking-lost). 

Maybe specific games will end up on this Recognised Sports list.  Damn it.