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Is playing electronic games a sport?

By Xu Chi (Shanghai Daily)

13:10, March 25, 2013

A top Chinese diver has sparked a debate over whether playing video games should be regarded as a sport after the announcement of an electronic gaming team to represent China at this year's Asian Indoor Games.

"Is playing video games truly a sports event?" said diving champion He Chao, whose brother He Chong won gold at the Beijing Olympics in the 3m springboard.

"So the team can become Olympic champions simply by playing video games? Then our efforts in training are spent in vain," he said. "Why don't we just spend time playing games?"

The online community is divided. Many shared He's view, with one comment asking "why the country invest money and effort forming such a video game team."

But others said electronic gaming deserved its place in the games as it requires team effort, concentration and skill.

Last week, the China's General Administration of Sport said that 17 members will be selected to establish an electronic gaming team to compete in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Incheon, South Korea on June 29.

The team will have 12 game players, three coaches, a team leader and translator to take part in four e-sports events.

The four events, FIFA, League of Legends, Need for Speed and Starcraft, are all popular video games which are listed among five e-sports events at the games, according to the official website of the Olympic Council of Asia.

But in a country where many people think that playing video games is detrimental to health and study, the idea of such games being officially labeled as "sports events" has sparked anger.

An online survey showed that more than 74 percent felt "electronic gaming should not be a sports event." The others supported e-sports or said they didn't care one way or the other, The Yangtze Evening Post said.

"Video games have nothing to do with sports! Those players just sit in front of the computer screens all day long and the games only bring them diseases and unhealthy life," was one microblog comment.

"Sports should help one keep fit. But what about playing video games? It keeps one sick," was another.

Some parents were concerned their children would devote themselves to playing video games with the excuse they were taking part in sports.

One father said: "I don't care much about the national video game team, but I fear one day my son would be encouraged to play video games with the dream that one day he could join the team."

However, supporters say that e-sports deserve to be regarded as sports. "Does it really matter whether it is truly a sport event? Electronic gaming requires agile minds, quick responses and team cooperation. Athletes and gamers should respect each other as they all take efforts winning the medals," was one comment.

"Playing one game repeatedly for more than eight hours is not that easy. The players have to spent days training to win the games just like other athletes do," another microblogger wrote.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:GaoYinan、Chen Lidan)

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