Signifying the growing power of competitive gaming, the best e-sports players will now receive medals as part of the 2022 Asian Games.
Gaming has come a long way from a niche industry that introduced 8-bit classics such as Super Mario Brothers, to one that rivals Hollywood in budgets and technological prowess.
The same could be said for the growth of e-sports, where gamers play against each other in competitive matches to win a trophy and, in some cases, a substantial cash prize.
This list of accolades will soon include a medal at the 2022 Asian Games.
Announcing the news, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) revealed that following a partnership with Chinese tech giant Alibaba, e-sports will be introduced to the games in Indonesia next year as a demonstration sport, before full introduction in 2022.
The alliance with Alibaba (more specifically, its sporting arm Alisports) may come as no surprise to those who have been following the growth of e-sports as last year, the company announced plans to invest up to $150m in this arena, including $5.5m towards the building of e-sport stadiums in China.
Generated nearly $500m in 2016
By gaining access to the Asian Games, e-sports will now join one of the largest sporting events in the world outside of the Olympics – 10,000 athletes took part at the last Asian Games in South Korea.
“We look forward to further collaboration with Alisports in regards to digital sports concepts along with sporting events,” said OCA president Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.
“We are sure that the extensive organising capabilities of Alisports, and their experience in e-sports, will assist the OCA in developing all sports.”
Commercially, e-sports remains a lucrative pursuit for both the industry and player, with estimates predicting that the sector would generate close to $500m from various events.
As it turned out, it almost reached this mark, with Newzoo reporting that this was adjusted later in the year to $493m, with year-on-year growth of 51.7pc.
E-sports competition in Moscow, Russia. Image: Roman Kosolapov/Shutterstock