When I began reading “Computer Games as a Professional Sport,” the concept itself seemed a little funny to me. Video games don’t require intense physical activity or athletic ability so they can’t be considered a sport, right? As I read on and really began to think about it, though, I realized that video games have many elements which place them into this category. The chapter did not provide a precise definition of the word “sport,” so I will use the definition provided by my Sports Marketing professor: “a source of diversion or a physical activity engaged in for pleasure.” Video games are definitely a source of diversion, and T.L. Taylor makes an excellent case for the requirement of physical abilities, such as hand-eye coordination, to excel at gaming.
I also considered the physical activity involved in other activities which are considered to be sports. Personally, I have never considered NASCAR to be a “real sport,” but millions of Americans would disagree with me. Indeed, NASCAR races are broadcast on ESPN, which seems to confirm that it is indeed a legitimate sport. I also am sure that if I asked a NASCAR driver, they would tell me about the physical skills needed to compete.
ESPN also airs Poker, which requires competing against opponents on the basis of strategy and luck, and billiards, a game rooted in fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. These core aspects of these sports are found within many video games. While I have never played Counterstrike, I have a fair amount of experience with first-person shooters, from Goldeneye to Call of Duty. I have played these games long enough and with enough different people to realize that some people seem to be more naturally gifted at FPS games because they can react faster and aim more accurately. This can be partially quantified on console games by the “look sensitivity,” which is essentially analogous to the mouse sensitivity described in the reading. I have friends who are able to play with much higher sensitivities than I am because they have a faster reaction time. As a result, they seem to play the game faster than many other players, moving throughout the levels almost instinctually, and this ability translates into a much higher rate of success within the game.
Just because the application of these physical skills falls outside of the typical, traditional masculine ideal of “sport” does not make them any less sporting. In recent years, there has been evidence that the skills cultivated by playing video games may have other, “real-life” implications such as performing surgery (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/feb/20/health.science). It is not such a big leap, then, that these skills may have merit on their own, and that the presence of these skills qualifies video games as being a real sport.