First, video games are a universally understood intellectual pursuit that relies on a set of culturally understood skills, and as such, they cannot truly be defined as a sport.
Secondly, video games are a competitive pursuit that relies on the outcome of team play, and sports are a competitive pursuit that relies on individual skills.
While competition is an important part of sports, that competition is not generally, if ever, as successful as the sum of the individual performances of each participant in that competition.
Thus, the competing athletic abilities that are generally used to define “sports” – speed, strength, endurance, skill, and agility, among others – are not traits that define video games.
Furthermore, the rigor of video games varies significantly from one individual to another
While very few children can play video games from the simplistic and linear point-and-click genres for hours on end (as they’re designed to be), those same children can spend hours playing video games that involve complex combat systems, or use tools that require strategic thinking and application of statistical knowledge to survive and prosper.
There is no inherent skill or virtuosity to these games, nor is there a set of standards for mastery in the form of physical challenge.
All of these attributes are inherent to the idea of playing the game, and as such, should not be considered part of the definition of a sport.
Finally, competitive sports are an extremely effective and efficient way to encourage certain behaviors or to demand certain behaviors.
For example, if I insist that my children go outside and play outside, I will not have a problem with the whining, but I will have a problem with the shame that I will have to experience when my child refuses to do what I am telling them to do.
Similarly, if my child isn’t interested in going outside and playing sports and I insist that they do, I will not have a problem with the whining and shunning I will have to experience when they decide to make a new video game their new, instead of joining a soccer team.
In the same way, there is no inherent merit in the experience of being forced to compete at something against other people, especially since there is no feasible way to beat or even interact with the other people involved.
Rather, the only interaction that can occur is the interaction between each player, and even that interaction is often imbalanced against the person that is doing the forcing.
I am not arguing that video games should not be as popular as they currently are. I am arguing that they should not be considered a sport.
Reasons why video games should be considered a sport
In recent years, some people have become uneasy with the idea that video games should be considered a sport, and have begun to speak out in support of the idea that games should not be considered a sport, despite the undeniable fact that video games involve a set of non-traditional competitive skills and capabilities.
There are several reasons that people feel compelled to assert that video games should not be considered a sport, and I intend to discuss four of those reasons below.
“Competitive” has become the new buzzword for video games. Whenever a new game release or a new competitive mode appears on an existing game, the topic of “what makes a game a game” inevitably comes up.
But there is no predetermined definition for what is “good” in games, and there is no right way to define the definition of a game.
The only way we can really tell whether or not something is a game is by looking at what people do when they play it.
This is an incredibly important point since the nature of competitive video games relies on the notion that participants behave according to certain expectations.
To be “competitive,” we must assume that players have a set of expectations for how the game should be played, and if we do not allow those expectations to be met, then we can’t consider it a game at all.
The idea of playing video games for fun is embedded in the very concept of video games, and the notion that people should “enjoy” video games “for fun” is intrinsic to why so many people enjoy playing video games.
Playing a video game, according to this way of thinking, is something that should be enjoyed. Therefore, the nature of playing video games for fun cannot be changed or redefined, as this would involve changing the essence of the game.
Ultimately, this would mean changing the nature of the entire video game industry, and thus, the entire society that surrounds the video game industry, and not an acceptable course of action.
The purpose of competitive video games is to maximize fun by limiting or preventing the actions of other players.
Moreover, the idea that video games should be judged purely by the standards of fun is itself a dubious premise, since there are games that have been shown to provide high levels of enjoyment while being very challenging and complex, and this is not acceptable.
If it were fun, it would not be a competitive video game.
The entire premise of competitive video games is a fallacy
Competitive video games, in general, are considered competitive games because it is impossible to look at the competitions between players and not recognize the traits and characteristics of competition.
It is, at its heart, just people competing against each other in a very limited set of skills that are easily transferable to everyday life.
By the same token, video games are widely perceived as competitive video games because of their competitive nature.
If these two things are taken as true, it’s very difficult to conceive of a video game being competitive against someone else for reasons that are unrelated to the game itself, and this is exactly the mentality that is common in the mainstream media, which blames video games for everything from school shootings to inappropriate sexual content.
The idea of video games “being a sport” has been used as an excuse for all manner of ill-treatment towards video game players and game developers.