The debate over whether eSports is an appropriate name for the concept it describes is one that will continue for as long as there are contrarians willing to keep it going. “It’s not a sport. It doesn’t require athleticism,” they tend to cry, while people show them the Wikipedia page for darts in reply. It’s not really a debate worth having anymore, especially when there is a more intricate and intriguing question to ask: If eSports are competitive video games, does this mean any video game can become an eSport?

The truth is that there is no protected definition of eSports. For that matter, there is no protected definition of sports at all. That means that you can take any activity and make a claim for it being a sport. It’s not going to result in any consequences for you other than potentially being laughed at. So in terms of definition, what we’re really looking for is a broadly agreed concept that most people will recognize as defining “sport” or, in this case, “eSport.” Below are some helpful parameters to consider.

As with all sports, the element of competition is key

If a video game is to become an eSport, it needs to have a competitive element. This is seemingly a quite uncontroversial line to take. If a video game is or can be competitive, then it’s not immediately ruled out from being an eSport. After all, the element of competition is what makes eSports betting possible, so people can bet on the highest parlay limits at Cloudbet in major tournaments. However, most – arguably all – video games can be competitive. Technically, Tetris can be competitive. So while it’s a somewhat satisfactory definition of an eSport, it doesn’t get us very far in narrowing the field.

The question of entertainment

For something to be a sport, it is often considered that it should be possible for viewers to watch it as a form of entertainment. Some people might argue that this is barely any more enlightening than the above factor. People can watch some surprisingly pedestrian things for entertainment. But if you look at the games that have become accepted widely as eSports, they all tend to draw crowds by being progressive and varied. That’s to say that the game takes on a narrative shape, where things develop, and settings change over time. It’s why DotA 2 is an eSport, and Farmville isn’t.

There should be an audience

Not only should something be entertaining, but if it is going to be an eSport, a game should already be drawing an audience. At least, to be considered an eSport and talked about in this sense without argument, there should be people who consider themselves fans and take time out to watch competitive games. That means that games can become eSports by dint of the interest that they draw. It’s why Madden and FIFA are considered eSports while something like Gaelic Games: Football isn’t: all three games can be plenty entertaining and are certainly competitive, but only the first two are realistically filling arenas.