The next Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo in 2020. The host city made quite an entrance during the closing ceremonies Sunday night. In a pre-recorded skit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe transformed into Super Mario and proceeded to travel to Rio via pipe. Like from the Super Mario video games.
Then, in Rio, emerging a pipe in the middle of the stadium, suddenly it's Super Mario live. He changes out of his costume and he's ... Prime Minister Abe.
If you missed this in the early hours it was ruddy brilliant https://t.co/7nNIBkUnK7
— JOE.co.uk (@JOE_co_uk) August 22, 2016
The internet certainly loved that bit. And it showed how big a deal video games and Nintendo are to Japan.
But it got us thinking: Should video games, or eSports, be in the Olympics?
"That's always a big question," says Daniel Lee, a video game analyst with the Super Smash Brothers community. "You know, most Olympic events are physical sports and that's always been a point of contention, whether video game competitions are sports. But I do believe that there's a lot of thought and a lot of decision-making and a lot of smarts that go into it."
Lee believes the competitions are worthy of being in the Olympics. A big point is just how much skill goes into playing the games at a high level.
"For certain games there's a metric called APM, short for actions per minute, and some of the more complicated games actually require people to go to upwards of 300 to 400 actions per minute," Lee says. "So it's quite demanding on your wrists and hands."
Injuries are common. Top players practice 8 to 10 hours a day, if not longer. Millions watch competitions. Crowds fill sports arenas to watch competitions in person. The top players make bank. And yet, people still roll their eyes at the idea. Lee doesn't care. He takes the long view.
"This is our thing," he says. "And we understand that most people may not understand what this current generation likes. And if you want to put this in context, you know, a hundred years ago who would have thought basketball — where you just put a ball in a little basket — would be so big today. So it's only going to be a matter of time before people kind of recognize and understand what we're about."
From PRI's The World ©2016 PRI