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There’s been some talk recently about e-sports and its existence.  This was brought up a couple of times on Massively in the past couple of weeks, and in both cases the comments were almost immediately beset by people discouraging and disparaging the fact that this was a thing.  Or how it’s not an actual sport.  Or any number of just general bitchery, like a pool of foot-nibbling fish.

“These aren’t even MMOs! Rawrr!!”

The semantics of the whole argument are the first focus–how apparently a sport requires physical contact.  Evidently this sort of thing will be silenced if there’s a more palatable term offered to the whole affair.  It’s only one of the myriad stupid arguments about e-sports, and they’re becoming tiring to read every time digital competitions come up.

The numbers are not lying here–viewership for competitions surrounding League of Legends has been growing year over year.  Other gaming competitions like the Evolution Championship Series (Evo) and Capcom Cup continue to grow.  This is an emerging form of competition and digital entertainment that is, once again, possible only through the magic of the internet.

Despite the very obvious, actual hard data…there’s still myriad people who just can’t stand this happens.

“Gasp! A thing I don’t like! KIIIIIILL!!”

The first squawking that generally arises about this topic is how digital competition is not an actual sport because people are sitting down at a computer.  This is usually countered with someone mentioning that chess is a sport or that driving a racecar is a sport despite both requiring one to sit down.  Sport and competition don’t have to be the exclusive realm of physical activity and prowess.  Strategy and mental fortitude are just as important to exercise and just as compelling to watch in a competitive environment as any “normal” sport.

The other whining is how this sort of thing is eating away at the heart of what gaming is.  I’m not sure exactly how “the purity of gaming” is devalued by there being competitions amongst the best gamers for money.  Perhaps because there’s money involved.  I dunno, anything that brings validation and positive eyes to our hobby is a wonderful thing.  I’ve lived through the assumptions post-Columbine.  I’ve lived enough years to see how Child’s Play does wonderful things but is never really picked up by mainstream media’s radar.  Good news is good news.

“Pissed off white dude” should not be our face anymore.

I feel it fair to mention here that I was never really a big supporter of this stuff before.  I held much the same opinions of others, though mine were even more vitriolic.  I equated “pro gamers” to the same level of importance as a “pro poker player”: a person who had all of the attitude of an athlete, but none of the physical prowess.

Why am I such an ardent supporter of this stuff? I actually blame one person.  A YouTube guy by the name of MaximilianDood.  He’s pretty much opened my eyes up to how these sort of things can be genuine competitions and how empassioned and genuine these things are.  Fighting games have always been an enigma to me…but this channel brought me to a whole new universe of entertainment.

And that’s what this ultimately is boiling down to.  Entertainment.  That’s what this is.  It’s just as compelling and engaging as any other sporting competition I’ve watched.  It’s seeing people who are leagues better at a thing than I am duking it out to find who is top amongst themselves.

That is pretty much the definition of sport to me.

Now, some things about digital competition still annoy me.  More specifically, when developers attempt to adjust their games to fit themselves in to a competition mold at the expense of the rest of the game and its playerbase being chief among them.  Frankly, if you’re going to create a game intended for competitive circuits, it should be designed as such from the ground up.  Beyond that? This stuff is awesome.  It’s fun.  It’s a positive thing for our hobby.

That’s really REALLY hard to put a negative spin on for me.