Another Summer Olympics in the books, another year competitive video-game players are left waiting their turn to shine on the world stage. That’s been the story every four years since the Magnavox Odyssey console’s release in 1972, when video gaming essentially began, but 36-year-old lifelong gamer Ben Kratz is out to change all that.
Kratz, founder and president of the Peoples for Video Games in the Olympics Organization (PVGOO), has been at the forefront of the movement pressing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to recognize competitive gaming as an official Olympic sport. “Badminton made its way onto the Olympic slate in 1992, and Rugby is set to debut at the Rio Games in 2016,” noted Kratz. “Obviously the IOC isn’t exactly being picky with the events they let in.”
Kratz began writing letters to President Reagan in 1983 with hopes of seeing video-game competition added to the ’84 Games in Los Angeles. “I had just gotten ColecoVision for Christmas,” Kratz recalled, “and I thought, ‘this needs to be played competitively at an international level.’ So I started writing letters, thinking the president was going to show up at my front door with a big smile on his face to thank me for the awesome suggestion. Who would’ve known I’d be here 30 years later, still trying to get these idiots to open their [expletive] eyes.”
PVGOO and similar advocacy groups have been largely ignored by every U.S. presidential administration as well as the IOC, which maintains that video games have no place in the Olympics. “The IOC likes to get up on its high horse and look down at us gamers like we’re a bunch of uncivilized cannibals or something,” said 10-year PVGOO member James Dunigan. “Well speaking of things equestrian, have you heard of Dressage? That’s the sport where guys ride around on horses and do basically nothing else. Yeah that’s in the Olympics. Meanwhile I’m out completing every achievement in Halo 4 and got nothing to show for it.
“I also can’t stand these athletes going on and on and on about their super-impressive training regimens,” added Dunigan. “Give me a break. You work out four hours a day, six days a week? Big deal. Why don’t you try a 48-hour WoW marathon on for size, buddy. I burn through those like a flame through the Hindenburg.”
Despite the uphill battle, Kratz remains committed to the PVGOO’s cause. “It’s tough, but it’s worth it. I just hope that one day, when my grand kids are off training for the PlayStation 7 events at the 2044 Olympics, they’ll think back to all the hard work that went into getting them there. I’m basically going to be the Jackie Robinson of video games.”
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