I’m going to get a klaxon set up in my office. It’s going to have a big red flashy light and some kind of ear-slitting AWOOGA! noise. And it’s going to go off every time somebody says “But it’s just a game!”
“It’s just a game” (Awoo-yes, thank-you, we get the point) is one of my personal pet-hates. “It’s just a game” is a phrase I would like to banish from the face of the earth. “It’s just a game!” they cry, as if games do not matter, and in this specific instance, as if video-games do not matter.
Games do not matter. Certainly not games like Chess, where Grandmasters are revered universally as Very Clever People and seen as standard against which all other Very Clever People should compare themselves.
Or like Football where players are traded around the world in million-pound deals as part of an international phenomenon that transcends boarders and languages.
And we certainly don’t value games like Poker, where enough money to buy a penthouse flat in central London can be won, or lost in the blink of an eye.
Talented professional e-sports players are traded like professional footballers, into and out of multi-lingual teams in countries all around the world. They play in tournaments for prizes as much as or higher than those won by professional poker players, in games of extraordinary skill and complexity that require team-work, strategy and lateral thinking par excellence. Many leverage their skills and image to become successful entrepreneurs, selling their branded speciality equipment to legions of fans and connoisseurs. In 2015, professional e-sports was valued globally at $612-million, with room for growth.
But of course, it’s just a game. And video-games, like Chess, or Football, or Poker, don’t really matter. Right?