Videogames and sport: enemies or partners?
The street and the videogames have often been considered enemies, especially now when it’s not necessary to pay for playing games, or even leave your house, as it happened with the amusement machines. The evolution of the gamer industry started bringing videogames home. This gives everyone, since the first videogame console, the possibility of playing whenever they want. However, some groups started to criticize young people for wasting time in front of the screen instead of doing some sport activities or socializing in the street. At this point, a debate has been fired about the health damages that this fact entails, being the obesity in childhood the main topic of discussion.
Later, the ones who plead for the physical activity could see the balance turned down in their favour with the new “active games” that came videogames that demand the movement on players and subsequently incorporate some level of phisicality, even being at home. With games for the XaviXPort (2004), Domyos (2009), or the iconic Wii Sports (2006) – at this moment, one of the best games of the revolutionary Nintendo’s gadget -, other accessories came such as the motion capture camera for Play Station, the upgraded Eye Toy (2003) or the Xbox 360’s kinnect. All these inventions included games about sport or dance and, with them, the result was the sweating of every kid at the end of the game.
The final step of this evolution has reached a combination of the possibility of «playing actively» allowing for a full immersive experience in the activity mentioned, something that is facilitated by a booming technology in recent years. Obviously, we are talking about the virtual reality, which is not only linked with the gamer world and whose applications go further than this area. It’s because of this fact that in LabHipermedia we have developed VAR3D, a virtual reality app that you can already book on this link and allows you to put yourself in the shoes of a linesman while training real game situations.
From then on, parents changed their opinion to one that was less sceptical about videogames and their incompatibility with sport; then, the focus shifted to the fact that videogames affected children’s education and studies, no matter how much games were used to stimulate the brain, such as the Brain Training or Professor Layton between 2005 and 2008 for Nintendo DS. All these examples had similar benefits to the ones that were offered in books specialized on the stimulation of the intelligence, but in a videogame cartridge.
Nowadays, those children have become adults, and the game machines are no longer exclusively for kids. The eSports were born as well as the possibility of becoming millionaire working full time in this industry when the aforementioned profession of videogame player (and tester) broke into the society. Some global tournaments, such as the League of Legends World Championship, were known, but the real trigger for those kids that leave behind the feeling of going to the park for playing FIFA or Pro was to see how many people could earn lot of money playing videogames, and not little amounts of it; from 6.000 to 9.000 dollars per month. These quantities could suffer an exponential growth when the professional has a higher influence, reaching numbers as big as 200.000 dollars per year, being actively registered in the social security and having medical insurance. Evidently, not everyone could achieve these goals, but others have surpassed that figure. Behind the videogame industry we can find lots of sponsors and many other sources of incoming money.
Now, the children use the “pretext” of wanting to work in the videogame industry in order to earn the money mentioned, just as all their idols, who are increasingly more gamers than athletes. This could wake up their ambition not just for playing professionally, but also for learning to program this kind of games they love. This kid who is making his parents mad when he spends hours and hours playing with the console could become a videogame programmer student in a future.
Taking this into account, we can consider that videogames and sports walk on the same path. Devices like the driving simulators are very important nowadays at the preseasons of car racing (especially at F1), the cycling and moto racing. This technology is similar to videogames, so it involves videogames programmers into their development. Electronic Arts has become the most important enterprise if we talk about sport games with their brand EA Sports. We can keep in mind other companies like 2K, that also produce a high amount of benefits every year with its basketball videogame, but the EA Sports FIFA is the highest selling videogame ever.
We can observe that every year, more and more Spanish football teams have its official own version of the eSports. And not just teams on the First or Second Division, also the 2nd B Division teams (usually teams with a lower budget) have seen a new opportunity for their growth. The health situation due to the pandemic have let this industry to get more and more fame thanks to these gamers who organized online tournaments to make the confinement period more pleasant and collect money for the people affected by the Covid-19.
This was not an unknown area at all before the pandemic. The Professional League of Videogames was something very popular some years ago. Furthermore, some enterprises of the videogame industry are involved at the FIFA, like DUX Gaming who was the first standing out in the crowd of the sport videogame. DUX is a famous team of eSports, and they play FIFA and NBA 2K. One of their most popular team members, DjMaRiiO, has become one of the biggest gamer influencers on streaming platforms nowadays. This kind of projects generate a lot of sway inside the sport world, this is so heavy that professional soccer players like Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid goalkeeper) or Borja Iglesias (Real Betis striker) have joined to the company.
Naming DUX inside the sport world is not relevant just because some of the main proprietaries are football stars – so many others like Sergio Kun Agüero, Antoine Griezmann, Gareth Bale or Sergio Reguilón have also invested to own some eSports clubs –. DUX Gaming become co-owner of the Internacional de Madrid, a club member of the Second B Division of professional soccer in Spain, and even changed the badge of the team when they arrived to it. and they also signed Kolderiu, who also plays FIFA for them, as its goalkeeper. This player was temporarily transferred to Unión Adarve, a Third Division club.
At last, every athlete like to have fun, so it is more and more usual to see some common faces playing on the pitch who are also known on the Internet. Examples of this are Courtois or Kun. They sometimes play famous online games like the Among Us with other famous streamers. Also, Kun Agüero has his own YouTube channel and he creates audio-visual content to disseminate on the net. This is also recognisable in other professionals of other sectors.
No brainer, the conclusion we can get about all this tangle between the sport industry and videogames turns out to be a more complex fusion between these two activities in the future, and this merger is still on its infancy. Sports and videogames were seen as enemies, because society established it that way, and now the public opinion has noticed that the union of two entities as powerful as these could mean a new interpretation of reality.