Are Gamers Pro Athletes?

The debate about whether gamers should be considered to be Pro-Athletes has been going on ever since the rise of major e-sports games such as Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), Counter Strike, and League of Legends. This is an exacerbating conversation to talk about, but it brings up a valid question.

So, let’s start by breaking down each of these identities. Video gamers are people who play virtual games by using certain apparatuses (e.g. mouse, keyboard, controller) to interact with a game. Gamers use mental strength to solve in-game challenges and plan strategy. Physical strength comes into play with the rapid clicking of RTS’s (real-time strategy), fatigue of sustained focus over a long period of time, which, of course, comes with the inevitable hunger pains. An athlete, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary website, is “a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.” Physical exercise is the key point here. Exercise is defined as an “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially sustain or improve health and fitness”. I bring this up because this is the crux of the debate. More specifically, we need to be able to evaluate the physical exercise being done by gamers and compare it to that of pro-athletes,

My mentor recently sent me an email about colleges recruiting gamers as athletes. This topic actually started a rational yet somewhat heated conversation between my suite mates. One was on the side that League of Legends professional gamers are athletes. His reasons were that pro-gamers go through rigorous training, long hours of playing to contemplate strategy as well as sustained focus. The other was asserting that ‘real’ athletes have to actually move the whole body to play their sport. He further exclaimed that an athlete has to go through much more strenuous physical activity than pro-gamers. Long story short, the conversation ended with “Let’s agree to disagree”.

I honestly do not know how this escaped me, but I just found out that professional gamers are considered professional athletes in the U.S. What does this mean? Does this mean the U.S. is taking a step forward into understanding the value of being a gamer? Or is this just another way for the U.S. to make money? I say it’s a little bit of both. The economy benefits because the videogame industry is a billion dollar industry. So, the American economy greatly benefits from the consumption of videogames. Also, being a gamer goes beyond sensationalism and entertainment, but becomes a large part of a person’s identity!

So after all of this, I guess my readers still have questions? Mainly, what side on the debate am I on? Honestly, I do not know. I empathize with pro athletes since I was the captain of my high school tennis team. I understand first hand the time and commitment it takes to be good at your craft. I also appreciate the time and commitment professional gamers put in to be good at competitions. This debate will continue for as long as we try to quantify the amount of exercise between these two groups. No one puts into question that both groups are dedicated to their craft. We must come to a consensus on this issue, for I would not want pro-gamers devaluing basketball players and vice versa. I have a feeling things will never get this heated, but who knows? At the end of the day, gamer, pro-gamer, professional athlete, are all descriptions of people who enjoy a particular activity. I love games and I love tennis – enough said.




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