The German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB) recently released a report saying that esports will not be considered sports in their opinion and cited health risks, violence in games, and game developers as the reasons why.
Their report was rife with inaccuracies and a lack of understanding about the esports industry. To start, they created a distinction between “eSports” and “eGaming” with the former being relegated to only sports simulations like Fifa and Madden, and the latter comprising all of the most popular esports titles.
This view is extremely narrow-minded and shows that the committee did little to try to expand their definition of what comprises a sport. It also shows that they have very little knowledge of how games operate in general. The sports simulation games are more rudimentary in strategy and teamwork than games like League of Legends and CS:GO. Just because they take place in a traditional sports atmosphere does not mean they somehow embody traditional sports ideals more than the esports that dominate the scene.
Predictability, the backlash was quick and brutal. The German Esports Federation released a statement where they said, “[the DOSB] failed to understand even the basic concepts of esports as sports,” according to the Esports Observer.
Some of the other concerns brought up the DOSB echo those of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC, which has been considering esports for a while, seems to have deferred on esports inclusion in the games for now. The committee’s two primary concerns were violence in games and dealing with games publishers.
The violence in games issue is a bit ludicrous as the physical sports at the Olympics cause many more injuries every day than esports ever has. However, dealing with games publishers is a valid concern.
No one owns the sports played in the Olympics, but game publishers own the playing fields necessary in esports. That presents a complicated problem that the IOC would have to navigate to include esports in the Olympics, but the Asian games have already introduced esports so the precedent does exist.
Each country is moving at its own speed with esports official standing, with Asia leading the way as always. With this decision, it appears that Germany is intent on being stuck in the old definitions of sport and risks alienating an entire generation who will never call esports “eGaming.”
Berlin-based esports organization Big Clan posted this response to the DOSB:
After the decision of the @DOSB, we want to confront all those who wish to divide our community. Our sport doesn't need the acceptance of obstinate Olympic sports associations, who discredit our sport, that's the reality they need to accept. We are the future. #unitedbyesports pic.twitter.com/S6DIH7ei9j
— BIG (@BIGCLANgg) October 31, 2018