Anukul Thakur, Sports Editor

Esports do not get a lot of love and as far as I can remember, video games didn’t either.

Is this because video games don’t make you sweat enough or is it because they are too cool for school? Whatever, because they certainly deserve the love and respect now that we’re quarantined.

“Is this even a sport?” my mother would often retort despite having paid 5,500 Indian rupees (about $100) in the ’90s for a “Made-In-India” 8-bit video game console. The price may seem outrageous but this was at a time where the Sega Mega Drive retailed at 18,000 rupees.

Anukul Thakur

Growing up, I was given one-hour windows to play video games but no time limits for outdoor sports. And since my console couldn’t save progress, I had to start from scratch every single time my parents stepped out for grocery shopping.

Ben Fefermen, the CEO of a Toronto based Esports organization, Amuka Esports, said he agrees with my parents’ philosophy.

“My kids are almost five. I do let them play LEGO games and Minecraft on Xbox but I set boundaries,” he said. “We play a little bit on Friday before the Sabbath, a little bit on Saturday night before bedtime, and they could play on Sunday and that’s it.

“They don’t play during the week,” Fefermen said.

He said he feels kids have to learn how to maintain a balance between video games and physical sports.

“I want them to play with other toys and welcome to go play in the snow and play outside but I want video games to also be a part of their culture and be a part of their playtime,” he said.

I wonder if my current mentality about video games will change when I have kids.

Some people, especially parents, often assume video games are unproductive. This may be an old truth based on some video games that only require the use of a controller, where the only form of movement is in a person’s thumbs, fingers and eyes.

However, there are also video-games that are interactive, such as Dance Dance Revolution and Xbox Kinect, a motion-sensing device that enabled active gaming in 2010.

It’s convenient to overlook all the positives about video games when some presume they have no benefits, and I argue video games are a safe way of keeping children entertained.

We’re currently going through a global pandemic, where the luxuries of playing outside and connecting with friends are challenging, if not impossible. Video games provide people with an outlet to connect with families and friends through multiplayer games as a way of keeping this connection in our current situation.

I’ve been playing games like Ludo, using a mobile app called Ludo King and the Players Unknown Battle Ground (PUBG) Mobile, as well as Fortnite to keep in touch with my peers.

Multiplayer video games are a great way to connect with people we care about while having fun at the same time. Maybe it’s time we look at video games a little more positively. Especially now.

And once we’re home with video games, it would only be a matter of time when Esports get their due love. After all, Esports is playing video games competitively.

But there may be something a little deeper here: if you can’t love something, why hate it?