Casual gaming is quickly turning into a profession. What was once an enjoyable pastime, where you could talk to friends and other players from around the world, has now turned into a booming business, drawing in impressive crowds and offering gamers some serious earning potential.

The popularity of eSports is growing at a phenomenal rate, as it competes to become prominent in the world sporting landscape. There are now World Championships for some of the biggest online multiplayer games, there are television channels where you can exclusively watch eSporting competitions and as you can see from this infographic, the top eSporting competitors are earning a living that rivals some of the world’s best athletes.

The eSporting business has grown so much in recent years, that some are even suggesting that eSports have a very good chance of becoming an Olympic event. So should we start looking at gamers as athletes? Or is the Olympic notion just taking things a little too far?

You can’t deny that to be a professional gamer requires an enormous amount of talent and a very high level of specific skills, which take hours and hours of practice to acquire. Professionals also have to be very strong mentally, ensuring they can stay cool under pressure, communicate well in team events and concentrate for very long periods of time. However, there are certain physical connotations that come with being an athlete and I’m not sure all gamers could claim to be in peak physical condition. Whilst your fingers, thumb and forearms must get a decent workout, the only real physical exercise you get from gaming is turning on your console.

Earlier this year, Mashable reported that the International eSport Federation applied to the International Olympic Committee to formally recognise eSports as a sport. The IOC responded, giving the IeSF all the information they needed to follow their dream of becoming an Olympic sport, but it’s very unlikely that will ever come become a reality.

If e-Sports becomes an Olympic event, then why can’t a game like chess be included too? It has much more history and prestige than online gaming, and requires just as much, if not more mental and tactical skill. Similarly, many are opposed to a sport like darts being introduced to the Olympics, even though it is already recognised as an actual sport and it requires a great deal more physical skill to perfect than gaming.

Maybe the best course of action wouldn’t be to try and enter the Olympics, but to create an eSports Olympics of their own. Whilst Rio was hosting the Olympics, they also staged the first ever eGames tournament. Professional gamers from all around the world gathered in Rio, to showcase their ability in a range of different games, including Super Smash Bro’s and Sonic the Hedgehog. The event was widely enjoyed by the gamers and gaming enthusiasts in attendance and that popularity will only grow when the tournament gains more exposure. However, for future reference, maybe running the tournament at the same time as the Olympics isn’t the best idea.

Pursing a future in the Olympics would prove to be a long, painful and eventually fruitless road, but there is no denying that if eSports move forward treading their own virtual path, it’s is sure to have a very bright future.