Grades for Games

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Features, News, Sports | 70 comments

The sound of a keyboard or toggles hitting a controller are not normally athletic sounds, but as we near the end of 2023, those sounds reflect a quickly rising sport. In a seemingly unchanging culture it’s always news when a change is made, let alone a new sport is recognized. Esports, in this case, has been newly introduced into the athletic community.

Electronic Sports are competitions held on video game platforms. Esport athletes range from elementary level students to paid video game athletes. In recent months Esports has been named an official class to be introduced next school year. The class will be counted as a sports credit, expanding the boundaries of who is considered an athlete. While critics think gaming abandons the need of physical prowess, that may not be the case.

“I believe athletes are people who use their physical abilities to get an objective or goal done as well as use their brains,” sophomore Steven Mercedes said; “pro gamers can be considered athletes because they use their strategic thinking to achieve their goal to win, but also they are using their physical skills to use the controller and hit the right buttons.”

Until recently, gaming existed as strictly a hobby, rarely mentioned in the same breath as volleyball or baseball. The key difference is the deviation in skill. While most sports have a large mental aspect, competitions are often won and lost based on who poses the more athletic squad. On the other hand, gaming is proving to be almost mainly mental, eliminating natural athleticism, evening the playing field. According to Old School Gamers, the average IQ of a top ranked league of legends player is between 115 and 120 putting them in the top 15% of the population.

Sophomore Jake Gonzalez said, “[ESports] can bring people together that, aren’t huge athletes that are six foot three, 150 pounds, it really helps bring together a good community.”

 This truth is reflected in the MVPs of the esports world. Unlike the Lebron James’ and Tom Bradys of the world, the greatest gamers in the world often represent the average athletes of America.

“This opens the door for gamers in terms of athletes because, [athletes] are people that are physically athletic and a specimens of human expression, but human expression is beyond the body, and that’s where ESports comes in. Because you get the ability to express competitive nature and strategy and focus and skills and how to hone that as a team. Or if it’s a singular game like solo game, then you hone it as a singular person, but you’re expressing competitiveness without actually needing to be a physical specimen,” future ESports teacher James Elswick said.

It has been nearly 70 years since the first video game has been unveiled to the public. While the rise of Esports has been blatant and loud, it has been coming along for decades. From Pac-Man, to Fortnite, video games have long been apart of  current society. However with the rise of Esports, video games are stepping into a new light, as a member of the sports community.

“Esports are challenging because they have a lot of time and effort they have to put into their game, spending hours practicing for a tournament, or a match,” sophomore Jalen Cruz said.

Students plan to look towards ESports next year to harness their competitive edge, and like all young athletes they will do so with big dreams. 

Like other sports athletes have the opportunity to compete professionally, not as an occupation but as a career,  “I would say if you consider archery or shooting or anything accurate with fine motor skills, a sport then you would have to consider it ESports is sport because the fine motor skills and the endurance level for what they do is very similar to archery and they endurance would also be similar to like Formula 1 long sitting with the extended periods of focus,” Elswick said. 

According to HeadphonesAddict the average professional Esport athlete makes $314,000 per year. Those are eye catching numbers for young video game enthusiasts across the country, thus the introduction of an official course across Orange County high schools.

According to Popular Mechanics the US military has been using gaming controllers for decades. BBC has reported that the design of gaming controllers makes it easier for surgeons to move through a patients virtual anatomy. Using their skills young gaming athletes can open new doors in fields beyond esports.

What will start with the simple introduction of a new sport credit class may lead to the expansion of sports communities. With the rise of ESports comes new opportunities for young gamers. ESports is not only expanding the field of sports but opening up new ways to improve society. Kids that game will have the chance to become pro athletes, surgeons, military officers, and pursue other notable careers.

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