The question is simple: Is it a sport or isn’t it? This month’s Mixology Night at the Science Center of Iowa will play host to 21st Century Gaming on Friday, March 6.
“Mixology events are the first Friday of the month and are focused on engaging ‘lifelong learnings’ and bringing in the 21-plus crowd to show them that the Science Center of Iowa (SCI) isn’t just for kids,” said Emilee Richardson, marketing and communications manager at SCI. “This Mixology talks about the technology of gaming and how, without STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education], we wouldn’t have these experiences.”
Believe it or not, there are gamers out there who play video games for a living, and they’re making some serious green. Top gamers are making hundreds of thousands of dollars competing in tournaments, and even more when you add in sponsorship deals and streaming services. That’s right, people actually will pay to simply watch a top gamer compete.
But a sport requires some physical activity, right?
Correct. Have you already forgotten that the Nintendo Wii has now been on the market for nearly 10 years. “Dance Dance Revolution”has been around even longer. What’s more, Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Camera offer the option of using your body to control the game, even producing games specific for workout routines. Even if you prefer the handheld controller, any casual gamer will admit his or her heart rate starts to rise within minutes of playing.
“I think that gaming is always trying to become more interactive. So far, technology has offered us a lot of opportunities to be more ‘in’ the game,” Richardson said. “Oculus Rifts and technology, along those lines, will make you able to have a realistic gaming experience. I think that blurring the game/reality line is going to continue to be the ultimate gaming experience.”
The SCI will be as informative as it is entertaining. You’ll be tricked into learning something new, even with a gaming-themed cocktail in hand. Old-school Nintendo games will remind fans of the 8-bit technology that came as fast as it went, and folks can make their own controller with a kit and everyday items. The Microsoft store will supply the newest Xbox system and games.
“Everything is hands-on, so you can challenge your friends to a game of Mario Kart or a dance-off,” said Richardson. “ISU also will be bringing down two Oculus Rifts headsets, so attendees will be able to experience 3D gaming.”
Let’s review: Physical activity? Check. Individual or team competition? Check. Only the best can make a career out of it? Check. Will spectators pay to watch? Check. Well, if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck…
Still, there will always be those who remain skeptical.
“With all of the technology involved that shows how your body moves, you can certainly get a good workout using these gaming systems. I’m not sure that I’d qualify it as a sport, but it’s certainly physical activity,” Richardson said. CV
Mixology Night: 21st Century Gaming
Friday, March 6; 5:30–9 p.m.
MAIDS will be providing live music during the event.
David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.