eSports, or esports, does it have a place in the Olympic Games? The question found a certain answer with the organization of Olympic Virtual Series on the sidelines of the Olympics, as in Tokyo in 2021. A new kind of competition bearing the mark of the five rings, for which the IOC applies its selection criteria: video games corresponding to sporting practices, and meeting the values and rules of Olympism. Among the elect, Zwift for cycling, Virtual regatta for sailing or eBaseball.
However, the question remains unanswered and the debate open between supporters and detractors of the presence of esports at the Olympics. It immediately raises the question of the definition of the term esports. Esports is a competitive way to play video games, which requires, according to its practitioners, concentration, dexterity, motor skills and training, sometimes intensive. This is not limited to sports games, but also concerns, for example, strategy games. It is the subject of face-to-face or online competitions, between several adversaries or between teams. The confusion therefore seems reductive for esports, as would the representations that describe gamers slumped on their sofa with a controller in their hands and a beer in the other, contrary to the image of the sportsman who builds up his muscles in stages. .
Feedback from readers of lequipe.fr
In a survey he conducted as part of his thesis at the C3S laboratory of the University of Franche-Comté, devoted to media representations of esports, Nicolas Voisin analyzed the reactions of readers of lequipe.fr to articles published on the issue between August 2017 and September 2021. Its findings show that many sports fans oppose the introduction of esports in the Olympic Games, judging that the practice of a video game, even at high level, is not akin to a sport. Above all, this practice would threaten a sporting ideal unconditionally associated with physical exertion. If esports enthusiasts, anxious to demonstrate the sporting dimension of their practice, argue in reaction, most of them do not defend the introduction of esports at the Games. Some even oppose it, believing that virtual competitions have no place at the Olympicsor fearing that their practice will be distorted by an opportunistic sports institution.
And if the ownership of the intellectual property of video games by publishers, the absence of a recognized international esports federation or even the choice of games are obstacles to rapprochement, the fact remains that the relationships established can be the opportunity for esports.accelerate its democratization and legitimization as a sporting practice, and for the IOC to open up to current trends, and thus regain the favor of the young public, whose interest in Olympic sport is tending to decline.
The results of Nicolas Voisin’s survey were presented at the conference Esport: from entertainment to Olympismorganized by the CEROU last June in Besançon, whose discussions could contribute to the current reflection on the issue of esports at the Olympic Games.