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Video Games as a Legitimate Sport Essay

The technological breakthrough that has been taking place over the past few decades has led to massive changes in people’s lives, including the areas such as leisure, sport, and hobbies. Video games have become part and parcel of many people’s pastime; furthermore, modern video games have evolved to the point where they demand to be recognized as a legitimate sport. Since video games include the elements that allow promoting social, emotional, and cognitive development, as well as provide opportunities for sensor development and a better control of one’s sensory experiences, it will be reasonable to claim that video games should become a sport.

Memory Training

The opportunities for memory development and the further enhancement of the relevant skills acquisition must be regarded as the key characteristic that makes video games a legitimate sport. According to the research produced by Basak, Boot, Voss, and Kramer (2008), executive control processes, which are linked directly to memory, deteriorate approximately after 60 years. The use of video games as the means of training the specified ability, in turn, has proven very efficient, which means that the identified activity should be recognized as a legitimate sport. For instance, the outcomes of the research point to the fact that the use of video games allows enhancing participants’ flexibility levels (Basak et al., 2008). As a result, the opportunities for helping them train their analytical skills are created. Indeed, it is essential for a sportsperson to be able to adjust to the ever-changing environment of a competition and be able to perform the tasks of varying difficulty. The application of video games, in turn, will build the foundation for training the habit of using analytical skills in order to assess a sudden change in the environment, define the available opportunities, assess possible risks, and identify the most appropriate solution. The skills listed above align with the criteria set for sportspersons taking part in competitions and other sport-related activities.

Cognitive and Emotional Development

The opportunities for training one’s sensory abilities and engaging in the process of active cognitive development should also be considered as a piece of evidence in favor of making video games a sport. According to a recent study, video games create vast opportunities for extensive training of attention and memory, as well as the ability to control one’s actions. Particularly, the authors of the study announce that video games help improve not only visual and attentional skills but also a broader range of abilities, including the ones associated with carrying out “memory, reasoning, and executive control tasks” (Boot, Kramer, Simons, Fabiani, & Gratton, 2008, p. 388). Therefore, the use of video games allows training the skills that can be used for improving the performance of the members of the air force, as the authors explain (Boot et al., 2008). In other words, video games not only provide participants with exciting pastime but also contribute massively to their further development, including emotional, cognitive, and physical domains. The opportunities for training skills and excelling in the further performance can be regarded as a profound basis for listing video games among other kinds of sport. Furthermore, the study revealed that playing video games with the level of complexity increasing gradually, one will be able to improve steadily (Boot et al., 2008). Furthermore, the results of the study indicate that the active use of video games allows for a seamless transfer from the simulated tasks to actual experiences:

All game groups improved significantly. For MOH, firing accuracy improved significantly (45% and 52% pre- and post-practice, respectively, t(18) = 3.36, p <.01) as did the ratio of hits taken to enemies killed (.72 and 1.01 pre-and post-practice, respectively, t(18) = 2.43, p <.05). (Boot et al., 2008, p. 391)

In other words, video game players do not require additional training to deploy the newly acquired skills to resolve a real-life problem. Instead, they engage in the process of task management directly and use the skills that they have recently developed in a very efficient manner (Boot et al., 2008). The specified observation can be viewed as a direct argument in favor of including video games in the list of official sports. Furthermore, it can be linked to the idea of helping participants experience a wide range of emotions and, thus, enhance their emotional skills successfully. Specifically, the chance to “experiment with social experiences and simulate alternative emotional consequences” (Granic, Lobel, & Engels, 2014, p. 67), which video games give to people playing them, must be recognized as an essential argument in favor of listing video games among the existing kinds of sports. Indeed, with the recent technological breakthrough and the introduction of extensive opportunities for interactions between players, which can be observed in modern video games, the latter are no longer viewed as the activity that isolates one socially and emotionally from the rest of the community. Quite on the contrary, modern video games create premises for a successful interaction between players and, therefore, the basis for their further professional and personal development, which makes video games indistinguishable from other types of sport.


It should be noted, though, that there are several legitimate arguments that do not allow recognizing video games as a sport immediately. While the identified statements do not have enough validity to prove that video games do not belong to the said category, they point to some of the evident problems with defining the subject matter as a sport. The assumption that any video game involves a certain element of luck tops the list of the arguments against defining video games as a kind of sport. Indeed, due to the specifics of programming, the possibility of a random combination of events that will ultimately lead to the success of a particular player exists in the realm of video games. Therefore, the possibility of one player having an unfair advantage over the rest of the participants makes the idea of turning video games into an actual sport rather questionable.


Despite the fact that the element of luck cannot be controlled in video games, the latter still qualify as a sport since other kinds of sports activities also incorporate the factors that cannot be regulated by referees and other members of the sports jury. For example, personal issues such as the well-being of a player, their health status, and other factors linked to the individual characteristics of the participants imply that modern types of sport also incorporate the element of luck as one of the factors that lead to the ultimate victory of a player. Furthermore, there are other extraneous factors that are linked directly to the possibility of victory, ranging from weather conditions to diet to personal issues. Excluding each of them from sports competitions is impossible, which means that traditional kinds of sport may also be deemed as the activities carried out in the environment that does not necessarily provide equal conditions for each participant. Therefore, the phenomenon of randomness that can be observed in modern video games and that may imply that some of the participants may be provided with more chances to win than others must not be viewed as legitimate. The low probability rates of the specified phenomenon occurring should also be regarded as an argument in favor of making video games a legitimate sport.


Providing ample opportunities for socioemotional and cognitive development of a player, offering a chance to enhance one’s sensory skills, and introducing options for several players to participate, video games must be recognized as a form of sport. Although the process of engaging in a video game does not involve establishing a physical contact with an opponent, it requires the ability to concentrate and use one’s analytical, cognitive, and other types of skills to the same extent as any other kind of sport does. Furthermore, video games create opportunities for the further development of a player. They build the foundation for training successfully; furthermore, with the recent technological breakthrough, the simulated experiences that players have when engaging in certain video games is very close to the actual ones. In other words, due to the effort and creativity out in their development, modern video games help blur the line between reality and the virtual world. The range of emotions that both the participants of other types of sports and the players of video games experience runs a full gamut. Consequently, video games must be recognized as a legitimate sport. Video games provide a solid basis for successful training, engage both participants and viewers emotionally, and allow maintaining the consistent communication with the opponent, therefore, qualifying for a sport like any other activity that is currently defined as such.


Basak, C., Boot, W. R., Voss, M. W., & Kramer, A. F. (2008). Can training in a real-time strategy video game attenuate cognitive decline in older adults?. Psychology and Aging, 23(4), 765-777. doi:10.1037/a0013494

Boot, W. R., Kramer, A. F., Simons, D. J., Fabiani, M., & Gratton, G. (2008). The effects of video game playing on attention, memory, and executive control. Acta Psychologica, 129(3), 387-398. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2008.09.005

Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69(1), 66-78. doi:10.1037/a0034857

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Video Games as a Legitimate Sport'. 2 September.

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