Ted Owen, the father of eSports, is close to seeing video gaming in the Olympics. Among the trailblazers of this multi-billion dollar industry, Owen has been working toward this moment for two decades, with outlets like Bloomberg.com recognizing him as “a pioneer of the video gaming industry.”
The potential introduction of eSports offers the Olympic Movement potential 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 entrepreneur Owen initially financed several early stage companies in the video game industry such as 3DO and Spectrum Holobyte which gave an understanding of the complexities of the industry. Owen launched several groundbreaking ventures. Game Dealer (which became UGO) and Professional Interactive Entertainment which became Global Gaming League (GGL), the World’s first professional online gaming community.
Among GGL’s achievements was 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 aimed at making e-sports more accessible. As CEO, Owen made a name for himself 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 when he had talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and then the Chinese government to introduce eSports to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Global Gaming League even held an Exhibition event prior to the Games. Although the idea was slow to catch-on, the rapid rise in competitive gaming and popularity of eSports (some 680m streams of video games were watched in the past year alone), led officials on reflection to give credence to what Owen has been suggesting all along.
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.