The mainstreaming of esports continues apace with news out of Kuwait today that the "Electronic Sports video game phenomenon" will be added to the 2022 Asian Games schedule as an official medal event. Ahead of that, it will also be seen this September at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and in 2018 at the 18th Asian Games, as a demonstration event.
The partnership between the Olympic Council of Asia and Chinese company Alisports reflects "the rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation among the youth," the OCA said. The only game to be mentioned by name in the announcement was FIFA 17, but MOBA and "Real Time Attack" games will also be played at these events.
"The Olympic Council of Asia has constantly been committed to the heritage, development and improvement of Asian sports, and we are extremely pleased about the strategic partnership with Alisports," OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah said. "We look forward to further collaboration with Alisports in regards to digital sports concepts along with sporting events."
As to what exactly prompted the inclusion of esports at the Asian Games, "heritage" is a lovely idea but Alisports president Zhang Dazhong was a little more on the nose about it. "Together we will work on providing the sponsors of the Asian Games with more opportunities and maximizing the market value, so that the OCA enjoys optimum benefits and advantages," he said.
For all that we like to pretend that athletic games are "amateur" competitions, the reality is that money drives it all, from awarding venues to training and, for the fortunate few, a lucrative post-competitive life—And there's no doubt these days that esports is big-money stuff. So while it might seem a little amusing or oddball at first glance, my advice is to get used to it: These events will almost certainly be a huge hit, and if they are, we're going to see a lot more of it—maybe even at the Olympics—in the future.
Thanks, Kotaku. Also, a friendly reminder that 'meh', or equivalent sentiments, are not considered a valid contribution to the comments below. Plenty of people are interested in competitive gaming, even if you aren't.