eSports have witnessed a significant growth in popularity during the last few years.
The number of players playing and competing professionally, the number of viewers watching these games and the overall prize pools awarded have all increased substantially.
A number of countries have taken note of this growth and have started to actively work in promoting this nascent sport. The governments in countries like South Korea, the United Kingdom and Sweden have taken efforts to encourage eSports as they believe the global market for the industry has enormous potential and they would like to establish themselves as leaders in the industry.
Recently the British Government announced a special eSports event will be held and will be similar to the Olympics. This tournament is called eGames and is being touted as the Video games Olympics. A new International eGames Committee (IEGC) has been setup which will run the tournament and the tournament will be backed by the UK government. The International Olympic Committee will help in organizing the event.
The IEGC is a not for profit agency and has been setup to positively shape the future of competitive gaming. The IEGC will setup an International Advisory Board which will assist the IEGC in running the eGames. The International Advisory Board will focus on instilling good governance, responsible gaming and to make the tournament more inclusive and diverse.
The IEGC will also setup an Advisory Board in each country, which will oversee the respective country’s eGames Association and eSports Team. The advisory board members will consist of a mix of individuals coming from eSports, Sports and media industries.
The event will be a biannual event and will played on those years when the Summer and Winter Olympics are held. The eGames will be held in the same country that is hosting the Olympics. This event will start with eSports tournaments. For example, the immensely popular Dota 2 International tournament is being held from 8 to 13 August in Seattle and the Rio games are being held from 5 to 21 August. Therefore some of the organizers believe that these eGames should be held during a time frame where there is no clash of dates. This will be necessary to ensure a good and successful first ever eGames event.
Another concern is on the quality of the teams selected to represent their countries. In general, the top eSports teams around the world comprise of players from different countries. The eGames format will require these teams to disband and then form new teams made up of the same nationalities and will definitely reduce the quality of the teams and ultimately also reduce the quality of the competition.
While concerns remain, the majority in the eSports community welcome the concept of an eSports Olympics and have encouraged the initiative taken by the U.K government. In the past also there have been efforts made to get more recognition for eSports as an Olympics sports. In January 2015 the Korean eSport Association (KeSPA) was able to get an affiliation with the Korean Olympic Committee. This recognition was the first step towards receiving an endorsement from the International Olympics Committee which determines inclusion and exclusion of sports into the Olympics.
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Another effort has been made in the form of the World Cyber Games (WCG), an international eSports event, which is held in line of the Olympics. Nations participate and send teams which compete for national pride. In this tournament the winners receive gold, silver and bronze medals. Similar to the Olympics, the tournament begins with an opening ceremony. But unlike the eGames, the WCG had companies like Samsung as sponsors which invested enough money to ensure that players apart from winning medals, walk away with financial prizes as well.
The U.K continues to push and promote the eSports industry and tournaments like the eGames. The UK is expected to benefit immensely from this decision as it already has a large eGaming population and the Olympic style eGames event will help to increase the size of its market significantly.