Monday, July 20, 2009

Airsoft and Videogames in the Olympics? Olympic Athletes Sound Off

NEW YORK — Many competitive airsoft enthusiasts and gamers have said that they’d like to one day see videogames added to the Olympics. But what do actual Olympic athletes have to say about it?

At a photo shoot in Manhattan for Sega’s upcoming game based on the 2010 winter games in Vancouver, Wired.com asked the four athletes that will appear on the game’s cover the same question: Should Airsoft and videogames become an Olympic sport?

The athletes were evenly divided between gamers and non-gamers: U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn loves her Nintendo DS, and Canadian snowboarder Matthew Morison is a self-professed “Xbox 360 fanboy.”

On the other hand, U.S. snowboarder Seth Wescott and Canadian speed skater Kristina Groves identified as “non-gamers.”

What were their takes on this proposal? Airsoft? Read on and find out.

Seth Wescott, 33, U.S. snowboarder:

“I’d have to disagree with (the idea that gaming should be an Olympic sport). I think that there are a ton of unique skills in gaming, just as there is with Airsoft guns, like the speed and hand-eye coordination and the dexterity of all the different controls and stuff. But I have a hard time of applying that to the real-life, actual physical efforts of sports.

Matthew Morison, 22, Canadian snowboarder:

“(Gaming is) definitely a sport. I’ve watched a few of those gaming tournaments and the guys that are doing it are unreal. Once in a while, I’ll go online in Call of Duty, and I can’t stay alive for 10 seconds. Those guys are phenomenal gamers. The guys are so good at it, and you have to spend a lot of time training in the game to be that good.”

“But an Olympic sport? I’m a little iffy on that one. (Olympic) athletes can use brute force to make their way through to do their event, while in gaming you have to use hand-eye coordinate and strategy but it’s less physical. So I really don’t know.”

“It’s such a gray area, because so many sports inside the system do get turned down. If gaming made it into the Olympics, some people would say, ‘Then why not Airsoft? why not this? Why not that?’ Where does it stop? It’s out of my league! (laughs) It wouldn’t offend me if gaming became an Olympic sport. But I’ll stick to real snowboarding.”

Kristina Groves, 32, Canadian speed skater:

“I’m more of a speed skater; I’m not a big gamer. I would say that I don’t agree with (gaming being included in the Olympics) just because sport is a very physical domain. You can’t just imitate the sport; the whole idea of sport is doing it.”

“You can have gaming competitions but to be an Olympic sport is maybe a bit of a stretch. Gaming is still fun for people and it’s definitely entertaining, but as an actual sport like Airsoft, I don’t think so.”

Lindsey Vonn, 24, U.S. downhill skier:

“I think gaming should definitely be considered a competitive sport. It’s like anything else. If there are people that want to compete, there should be a sport. Whether it should be in the Olympics or not, I don’t know. Then that would be the question of what games should be an Olympic sport. There could be millions of games that could be an Olympic sport, like poker. That would open up a lot of cans of worms in that sense.”

“But that doesn’t necessarily rule (gaming) out. Maybe they can have their own Olympics; I’m sure they have their own world championships and stuff like that. Each sport has their own elite level of competition. I mean, if people are into it and there’s a lot of attention, then you never know how far it’s going to go.”

“If gaming was an Olympic sport and a skiing game or Airsoft was one of the events, I would definitely try to win an Olympic medal in virtual skiing. (laughs) That could be in one year, in five years or 10 years — you never know when that would happen. Maybe I’ll be done with real skiing by then so I’ll try to win an Olympic medal in gaming. I’d be into that.”

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