Here is the summary statement from the recent Olympic Summit on the eSport question:
The Development of “eSports”
The Summit discussed the rapid development of what are called “eSports”, and the current involvement of various Olympic Movement stakeholders. The Summit agreed that:
• “eSports” are showing strong growth, especially within the youth demographic across different countries, and can provide a platform for engagement with the Olympic Movement.
• Competitive “eSports” could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports.
• In order to be recognised by the IOC as a sport, the content of “eSports” must not infringe on the Olympic values.
• A further requirement for recognition by the IOC must be the existence of an organisation guaranteeing compliance with the rules and regulations of the Olympic Movement (anti-doping, betting, manipulation, etc.).
The Summit asked the IOC together with GAISF in a dialogue with the gaming industry and players to explore this area further and to come back to the Olympic Movement stakeholders in due course.
Here is an excerpt from the most thoughtful response to this communique that we have found [from The eSports Observer]:
There is no doubt: the addition of esports to any major sporting event like the Olympics would be a major sign of forward progress by the industry. That said, many experts note that the steps it would take to accommodate “traditional” sporting values would degrade the current esports environment and cut into its standalone potential.
Indeed, if violent video games that included killing things were determined to be against Olympic values, almost every current major esport title would be denied entry—even casual games like Hearthstone are framed as digital battlefields where creatures go to war against each other. Furthermore, as our editor Graham Norton noted over the summer, even if esports deserves to be in the Olympics, neither party is currently anywhere ready to support such a collaboration.
Ultimately, the topic of esports’ inclusion in the Olympics is both complicated and political. That said, with shifting cultural trends about traditional sports and esports training, the question of esports in the Olympics is better asked with “when” than “if.”
We believe that we have a solution which, implemented properly, can address Olympic requirements, be uniquely and powerfully attractive to the young audience that we seek [and many others as well], and satisfy the needs [and therefore garner the investment and support] of the eSports and archery industries.
Virtual Reality Archery completely addressess all of these issues, and easily in time for LA 2028, though we believe that the technology will be in place in plenty of time to initiate and complete application and homologation in time for the Paris 2024 cycle, especially if Paris adopts it as one of their local option additions.
Of course, all of this is made even simpler because our proposal would need only be for a new discipline… not a new sport. Therefore, the organizational and compliance infrastructure necessary to gain approval and inclusion is already largely in place.
Most important, if we focus on accomplishing archery eSports inclusion in the Games, we can galvanize the attention and resources of the whole range of participants that would be necessary to make it happen:
MANUFACTURERS would need to provide test equipment and minimal technical expertise, to design and integrate the installation and mounting of motion controls [which are now available from the VR tech industry] and arrow dampers. For this they gain access to an entirely new revenue stream from new bow development and retro-fits of existing bow inventory.
AR/VR SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS AND PUBLISHERS, AND HARDWARE MANUFACTURERS, including The Magnificent Seven, would need to make motion control technology available for integration into and mounting onto bows. Valve is already doing this. They also presently offer two of the leading games that – modified – would be candidates for inclusion in the Olympic programme: Holopoint and another called Raw Data, neither of which, even in its present version, sheds a drop of blood or kills a virtual person. With the appropriate modifications, games like these can be issued in licensed “Olympic Editions” that would be compliant, stable and marketable, and generate substantial revenues for World Archery and the IOC.
ESPORTS PROMOTERS would need to develop the competition platforms and leagues [in concert with World Archery] to offer and promote a competition system, one that would integrate with existing World Archery events and support them financially. This process would be made easier for the promoters because World Archery’s existing archery country organisations would be natural and [for the promoters] low-cost points of marketing entry around the world. Valve, itself, is already in position to make this happen, as they have one of the most extensive and prominent eSports event infrastructures, culminating each year in The International, one of the most successful events in the eSports world. Alibaba, Microsoft, and others could also play significant roles in bringing cloud services to bear on dynamic global competition, down to the individual player level and on innovative broadcast integration.
PLAYER/ATHLETES would need to be encouraged, recruited, and developed. Existing World Archery Federation country organisations would be natural hotbeds of player growth and development, fueled by our corporate partners’ support and global reach. To give you an idea of how quickly all of this can happen, Overwatch [a non-VR, team-based multiplayer online first-person shooter video game] was unveiled in November 2014 in a fully playable pre-release version and was in a limited beta release from late 2015 through early 2016. An open beta – still not a full release – in May 2016 drew in nearly 10 million players. VR hardware prices have already fallen through the US$200 “floor” and will only go lower, and our new games could be released in “free to play” versions. So, the opportunity is here to proliferate our product around the world not in a couple of years from release, but a couple of weeks, and from the richest Federation countries to the poorest.
PARIS 2024 and LA 2028 ORGANISING COMMITTEES are each in positions to advocate eSports as one of their local inclusions. Paris is motivated, because Co-President Tony Estanguet has already declared their openness, and Paris would be an incredible setting to highlight eSports Archery, as it was for the 2013 World Archery Cup. LA is motivated because this totally resonates with the LA tech and physical cultures. For them it would be The Hunger Games meets The Matrix, and a perfect promotion of the LA scene.
OTHER SPORTS FEDERATIONS [Fencing and Shooting] could also explore applying the lessons of Virtual Reality Archery, creating their own eSports versions. They each have similar relationships as World Archery does with the key players in their industry segments.
THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, including the television and movie industries, as distributors of our content and creators of new content. Lionsgate, for instance, may not be done with The Hunger Games franchise, and we don’t thing that Brave will be the last archery-themed feature that Disney and Pixar will produce.
We propose a separate entity – Virtual Sports International [VSI] – connected to the World Archery Federation, which will engage and manage relationships with the wide array of partners that will want to participate in this effort, some of which are illustrated in the image above [click image to enlarge].