IOC Squashes Hopes for Esports in the Olympics

If you were among those hoping that Olympic esports would be a thing sometime in the near future, then the president of the International Olympics Committee has just dashed those hopes on the rocks. The IOC’s Thomas Bach has stated in no uncertain terms that esports will not be an Olympic-level event, citing “killer games” as the rationale for his position.

olympic esports

Bach’s stance was made plain during the Asian Games this past Saturday when he told the Associated Press that esports use violent games as its primary location for competition, which goes against core messaging of the Olympic Games themselves.

“We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination,” said Bach. “If you have egames where it’s about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values.”

Bach also addressed the commonly raised argument that combat sports such as fencing are Olympic events, claiming that these are a “civilized expression” of a fight between two people.

That said, the Asian Games in question were staging esports as a demonstration event, so perhaps further down the line Bach’s mind could be changed. That said, it would appear that the current crop of popular esports titles focus too much on violence for the IOC’s tastes to be considered for the Games near-term.

Our Thoughts

With respect to Mr. Bach, he’s taking too narrow of a view of what games could work as esports. There are a number of fighting games that are far too cartoon-like to be taken as serious expressions of violence, as well as games like Rocket League that are even more harmless in terms of their violence level.

Source: Associated Press via GamesIndustry

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3 Dead 11 Injured in Madden 19 Esports Shooting

This past Sunday was a dark day for esports and gaming in general when a Madden 19 esports tournament turned deadly. During a leg of the competition, a shooter opened fire upon players and spectators of the event, leaving a total of three people dead including the shooter himself and 11 people injured.

madden 19 esports tournament

The shooting took place at Chicago Pizza restaurant in Jacksonville Landing in Florida as part of the Madden Championship Series. The incident was broadcast on Twitch, with video showing only a gameplay alert screen of a disconnected controller but audio capturing the entire shooting.

By the end, competitors Elijah “Trueboy” Clayton and Taylor “spotmeplzzz” Robertson were killed, while the shooter took his own life. Another nine people were taken to area hospitals by ambulance while two transported themselves to hospitals for treatment according to statements made by Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams. All of the injured are listed in stable condition, but the number of injured may change as details emerge.

The suspected shooter was David Katz, a 24-year-old white male from Baltimore, Maryland who was reportedly competing in the event and lost according to an eyewitness account shared by the LA Times. Baltimore ATF agents are currently working with the FBI to further investigate Katz according to the latest tweet from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

EA released a statement on its official Twitter account condemning the act. “The tragic situation that occurred Sunday in Jacksonville was a senseless act of violence,” reads part of the statement. “Our most heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the victims whose lives were taken today and those who were injured.”

Our Thoughts

There are not a lot of words we can share that will offer any solace to these events and, frankly, words are meaningless against the greater problems this act highlights. What we will say is that we offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by the events.

Sources: IGN, Twitter

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WHO Closer to Classifying Gaming Addiction as a Mental Health Condition

In spite of the arguments of physicians, the World Health Organization has included gaming disorder as a mental health condition in its 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, or ICD for short, which has prompted a strong response to say the least.

gaming disorder

According to Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, gaming disorder has three major diagnostic characteristics: putting gaming behavior ahead of other activities; an inability to stop gaming behavior even if negative consequences are felt; and a degradation or impairment of personal, social or occupational function.

“[The WHO is following] the trends, the developments, which have taken place in populations and in the professional field,” says Dr. Poznyak. “I’m not creating a precedent.”

Of course, there are those within both the gaming industry and medical field who disagree with the inclusion of gaming habits as a mental condition. Anthony Bean, a licensed psychologist and executive director of a non-profit mental health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, called the addition of gaming disorder “premature” and that gaming is often used as a tool to reduce anxiety and depression. “When anxiety and depression is dealt with, the gaming goes down significantly,” said Bean.

The Entertainment Software Association has issued a statement in reaction to the ICD, pointing out that the new edition is still in a draft state and that the WHO should consider more inclusive and deeper study before finalizing the diagnosis.

“The research supporting inclusion is highly contested and inconclusive. There is no objective evidence to define and diagnose overuse and that may result in misdiagnosis,” reads part of the statement. “The WHO should consider the mounting evidence put before them before inclusion next year of ‘gaming disorder’ in the final version of ICD-11.”

Our Thoughts

Yes, there are undoubtedly aspects of video gaming that are addictive. It’s literally the crux of argument against loot boxes. With that said, and as often seems to be the case with many mental health matters, there’s a lot more nuance than whatever blanket diagnosis the ICD-11 is proposing and the risk of misdiagnosis is pretty significant, not to mention the alarmist pieces that suddenly gain new vindication.

Sources: CNN, Gamespot

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