AFTER a rapid rise, e-sports is “at the crossroad”, according to the sport’s new chief in Asia – with Olympic recognition still the ultimate aim.
E-sports has forced its way into the mainstream, with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach admitting the sport could become an Olympic discipline.
Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, the newly-elected president of the Asian e-Sports Federation, said his organisation will pursue Olympic status – which means adopting some of the regulations of traditional sports.
The South China Morning Post quoted Fok, speaking at the 2017 Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan, as saying Olympic inclusion remains the goal for e-sports.
“Our vision for the federation is to have e-sports recognised as an Olympic sport, and that is clear,” said Fok.
“We have to go about seeing e-sports as a traditional sport.”
Fok was elected to his post without opposition after Kazakhstan’s Natalya Sipovich voluntarily stepped down after a decade in the position.
Fok, an Oxford graduate and the son of the president of the Hong Kong Olympic Federation, has won praise for his early comments in his new role.
But he has acknowledged e-sports must “face up” to cynicism over whether gaming can, and should, be considered a sport.
He also said e-sports must adopt regulations on doping and fair play in line with other established Olympic sports.
Much of Fok’s role will be focused on accelerating the development of e-sports before the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, when it will be a medal sport for the first time.
Its inclusion in the Asian Games is considered a significant step toward Olympic recognition.
The Asian Indoor Games launched in 2005, with e-sports joining the schedule at the second running of the event in Macau 2007.
The event, which has developed into the Indoor & Martial Arts Games, is being staged in Ashgabat – with a three-day e-sports tournament beginning next Monday.
The competition will see multiplayer tournaments of Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Dota2 and King Of Fighters XIV.
One of the issues around e-sports becoming recognised as an Olympic sport is the decision over which games will be used.
Not only has Bach said violent games will not be allowed into the Games, but the ever-changing nature of the gaming industry could make for tricky decisions on which games to include.
“We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people,” Bach said earlier this year.
“This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line.”