This week, the 2018 Special Olympics are being held in Seattle, Washington. More than 4,000 athletes are competing in fourteen events, one of which was held for the first time in its 50 year history. On Monday July 2, Microsoft partnered with the Special Olympics to host the first Special Olympics Xbox Tournament, making history as the first ever video game competition at the Games. Microsoft, being a sponsor for this years Games, has donated more than $3 million dollars to the Special Olympics, and has been a labor of love for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who has been pushing for the assistance of people with disabilities who enjoy video games, a prime example is the Adaptive Xbox controller that they have been working on.
Their was only one game that was played during the event, Forza Motorsports 7, a highly competitive racing game that is held in high esteem within the Xbox Community. Prior to the start of the event, players were paired up into eight teams of two and given some time to practice with each other. Each team of two consisted of an athlete with a unified partner volunteer, as the racing times were combined and compared with other athletes, therefore whoever had the best time for each race, scored the most points. After hours of racing, the tournament concluded, with the winning pair being the hometown Washington State racing team, which consisted of athlete Timothy Dempsey, and unified volunteer Nicholas Rasmussen.
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) July 3, 2018
For their efforts, Dempsey and Rasmussen were awarded with two Xbox One X’s which were engraved with the Special Olympics name, logo, and the slogan on the side; “Rise With Us.” Not only did this tournament make a great stride in the push for esports on a major sporting event, it also shows how it could be effective in the Games, allowing more people to participate in events. The International Olympic Committee has also backed other video game related events, such as a competitive Starcraft II tournament that took place before the Winter Olympics.
The Microsoft-Special Olympics partnership could be the catalyst for companies to collaborate with the Olympic Committee and integrate other video games for future tournaments in either the Winter or Summer Olympics. It may be a while before that comes to pass, but it shows how the industry is perceived in the 21st century, with video games at the peak of their popularity, most people now recognize video games competitions as an actual sport.