3 – Convincing the ‘Rents
Parents, ugh, such a drag. However, convincing parents that gaming is a healthy lifestyle for their children is very hard to accomplish; and that’s understandable. Tying in to my first point on “idol worship”, gaming representatives are not the image parents will want their children to emulate or aspire to look like. This is understandable from a paternal or maternal perspective. Parents want their children to grow up to be big and strong and as financially successful as they can be. Professional gamers look unhealthy and the prospect of training as a professional gamer by chugging Redbull and pulling all nighters sitting at a computer does not evoke the best image to parents. Furthermore, the lucrative aspect of streaming games and competitions is a foreign concept to the not so computer savvy generations in their 40’s+. If gaming wants to be more accepted, there has to be initiatives to educate past, current, and future generations of people on the positive benefits of gaming and its legitimacy as a competitive sport. Through this, gaming can also build a sense of attachment and affinity with the general population (like a charitable organization or a community center). Parents have to trust that if their child wants to play games that is a better alternative if they are athletically inept or that they can be healthy and safe doing so. But these things take time, money, and an open mind; so yeah…not going to happen. Arguably, as many gamers have grown up to be parents themselves, we could see a shift here in the future.
4 – Players are Anonymous
This has been a point of contention for a while, if you trash talk while playing hockey, football, or any other sport, whether it be a rec league, playing with friends or professionally, you will get a 5 fingered surprise right to the face; in gaming there are no repercussions (unless you count swatting), no head hunts, no cheap shots to the legs, non-punishable. Offenders mostly get off scott-free and are allowed to spread their poison among the gaming community. It is impossible to police gaming effectively due to the anonymity of players and the sheer number of reviewable cases. There is no fear of what other gamers think of you, the repercussions of your actions, nor retribution. It takes the almighty dollar to properly administer stricter rules, which is not going to happen, obviously. Though standards of sportsmanship are raised in the top tier competitive scene, it is ultimately up to the gamer to police him or herself in casual or everyday gaming. This culture of cowardly trash talking in the gaming community ultimately holds it back. Though it can make for several hilarious YouTube videos and Twitch streams, gaming portrays the feeling of exclusivity. Most people will never get to the big leagues, and that’s ok if you’re having fun. What isn’t fun is being put down by your peers and constantly abusing others verbally, and that’s what needs to change for more people to accept gaming as a sport. Until then, according to the 12 year old kid who just headshot you, if you’re not the best, you’re trash.
Despite everything I’ve pointed out, the things that E-sports does as a sin against traditional sports are also its greatest virtues. Whether your short, fat, skinny, or malformed, gaming will not pick you last or stigmatize you based on your appearance gender or age. You have no one to impress but yourself. You don’t have the pressure of a city or fans riding on you; you can play the way you want to play. Parents may not accept your decision to be a gamer, but your pursuit in gaming only shows the world your resolve and maturity in making your own decisions, making you stronger. And at the end of the day, when your pissed and want to rip into a teammate for not doing their job or smack talk an opponent, you will have one less concussion than the guy on the ice rink or playing field. The debate about whether E-sports is a legitimate sport will not be resolved any time soon. E-sports is different from regular sports and I don’t think it should want to be in the same category. With gender segregation, doping controversies, and regulations on freedom of speech and public persona, does gaming want to be under that same banner? Gaming is it’s own thing, be thankful that more people don’t call it a sport.