Commonwealth Esports Championships Announced | Rock Paper Shotgun
“When will esports be part of the Olympics?” is a question often asked by people desperate to gain approval from cultural authorities or their parents. But some sporting events are in turn keen to piggyback on the appeal of young people to esports, which is why the 2022 Commonwealth Games will be accompanied by an esports pilot competition. Organizers today announced the Commonwealth Esports Championships, which will take place in August alongside the main event. And maybe it will lead to more esports?
The Commonwealth Games are a quadrennial international multi-sport competition, much like the Olympics, but on fragments of the former British Empire. This year’s event is taking place in Birmingham, England. And alongside it, allied but quite separate, will be a Commonwealth Esports Championship. Organized with the Global Esports Federation and the British Esports Association with the support of a tourism fund, it will see athletes from across the Commonwealth compete across a variety of genres in as yet unconfirmed games.
“The Commonwealth Esports Championships provide a great opportunity to pilot esports in close proximity to the Commonwealth Games,” Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin said in a statement. today’s announcement.
“It will allow us to review the long-term relationship between the Commonwealth Games and esports as we continue to evolve and explore future editions of our event and what they might look like.”
The daily mail, an English tabloid that broke the news early, said that Valve’s MOBA Dota 2 could be on the table. We don’t know where they got that from. While the Daily Mail’s production is 50% crappy and 40% ‘culture war’ laggard, this could be part of the legit 10%.
I myself am intrigued by the CGF saying that “the event should feature exciting demonstrations showcasing Active Esports and the powerful technologies that support the convergence of sports and esports”. It would be pretty funny if they meant, like, Zwift. Or I can’t think of many more “active” video games than button mashers like Daley Thompson’s Decathlon on the ZX Spectrum (which would also showcase that British excellence in technology that everyone always talks about). I think there would also be poetry in playing Sega’s Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.
When will esports be part of the Commonwealth Games proper? I do not care. I’m perfectly content that the esport will continue as its own thing in its own form.
I love sports and I love esports, but I see them as very different in many ways. One of the key aspects for me is that esports ends up in consumer products. The games played are an ever-changing landscape of sequels, new games, balance fixes, and new maps, and part of their excitement lies in this constant change. While I certainly don’t claim that the sport is neutral and static and unaffected by rule changes or technology, the Olympic 100 meters has been largely the same for a century, and part of its appeal is a benchmark for human progress. Throwing the two together does both a disservice. It’s good if they are separated. Insisting on esports joining “real” sports always seems hopeless, whether for money or for validation. My high school PE teacher was a bully too, but you gotta move on.