Ted Owen, the father of eSports, is one step closer to seeing video gaming featured as an Olympic sport. Having been one of the trailblazers to galvanize the base behind the now multi-billion- dollar industry of eSports, Owen has been working diligently toward achieving this moment for nearly two decades, with outlets like Bloomberg.com recognizing him as “a pioneer of the video gaming industry.” In fact, Paris intends to include eSports in the 2024 Olympic Games—a development that underscores Owen’s many achievements.
The potential introduction of eSports offers the Olympic Movement a game-changing activity to fulfill its own Charter that “the practice of sport is a human right”. Whilst many Olympic sports favor young athletes who spend a lifetime preparing with a specialist regime in a national athletic organization, eSports offers a potential democratization and broader participation in being short- listed to participate. PlayAPI’s Ted Owen emphasized that, “whilst traditional athletic events may involve at most several hundred athletes being shortlisted for a particular event, eSports could potentially involve millions of individuals competing for a spot on their 2024 eSports national Olympic team”.
Between 1993 and 2017, serial video game entrepreneur Owen launched several innovative companies. An early venture Owen, Diaz & Actshul financed several early stage companies in the video game industry such as 3DO and Spectrum Holobyte which gave Owen an entrée into understanding the complexities of the industry and first-mover insights into how to grow user participation.
Not content with investing and advising Owen also launched several groundbreaking ventures. Game Dealer (which led to UGO) and Professional Interactive Entertainment Inc. which became Global Gaming League (GGL), the World’s first professional online gaming community. Some of GGL’s many achievements were to incorporate an eSports event into The Gravity Games and broadcast play-by-play coverage of the eSports scene and community through GGL’s media division, Epileptic Gaming (a precursor to Twitch), all aiming at making e-sports more accessible to the mainstream. During his time as CEO of Global Gaming League, Owen made a name for himself in the video gaming community leading to his latest endeavor – PlayAPI – which has the capability to create and maintain fair play between global eSports participants.
Owen’s campaign to bring competitive eSports to the Olympics began over a decade ago, in 2006, when he participated in talks initially with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and then the Chinese government to introduce video games as a sport during the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing with a Global Gaming League Exhibition event being held prior to the Games. Although the idea was slow to catch-on, with the rapid rise in competitive gaming and popularity of eSports (some 680m streams of video games were watched in the past year alone), officials on reflection are now giving credence to what Owen has been suggesting all along.
“I don’t want to say ‘no’ from the beginning. I think it’s interesting to interact with the IOC, with them, the e-sports family, to better understand what the process is and why it is such a success,” the co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, Tony Estanguet, told the AP. PlayAPI’s Ted Owen commented,“ eSports offers the Paris Olympics the ability to break new ground in becoming a truly global phenomenon in 2024. Handled correctly, eSports can provide a truly global, fair platform for everyone to compete in – what more could the IOC and Paris hope for in meeting the aspirations of the Olympic Charter”
Owen’s influence on the largest entertainment form in the world both predicted and contributed to what is now the largest sport in the world: e-sports. He has again positioned himself as an entrepreneur to watch now and in the years leading up to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.