Racket: Nx (2018), the VR racket sport game from One Hamsa, took a big step towards becoming a potential Olympic sport recently. The team revealed it’s been endorsed by the International Racquetball Federation (IRF)—an important step on its way to becoming a candidate for the Olympic Games.
Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado and recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IRF revealed it’s working with Israel-based developers One Hamsa to enter Racket: Nx into the new Olympic Virtual Sport Series program, but also as an eventual candidate for the Olympic Games. The news was announced via an IRF press release.
The IOC’s Virtual Sports Series was created to reach engage new Olympic audiences; it already includes five games which simulate cycling, rowing, baseball, sailing, and car racing. Granted, the IOC hasn’t said whether those activities will merit actual medals, however a Guardian report maintains it hasn’t been ruled out for “physical” virtual sports such as rowing or cycling.
On its quest to make it to the Olympics, the studio is pitching three ‘disciplines’ within the game itself, which includes both solo and co-op leaderboard competitions, and a mode whereby two competitors fight in a sort of score-driven tug-of-war: the first player to 1,000 points wins.
While Racket: Nx is essentially a sport in its own right thanks to its intense physicality, need for good hand-eye coordination, and block-breaking scoring system, there are a few more hurdles to jump over before we’ll see a VR game make it into the Olympics.
Like bowling and chess, activities can gain official recognition but not become a competing event at the Olympic Games, the IOC says. In addition to getting the endorsement by an International Federation, the activity also has to be practiced “widely across the world and meet various criteria.” After that, the IOC’s Executive Board will need to recommend that its added to Games program. Still, if those “physical” virtual games see some level of legitimacy at this year’s games, Racket: Nx’s chances are good.
According to One Hamsa, Racket:Nx has now sold over 150,000 units across all supported platforms, which includes the ever-popular Oculus Quest 2. The game is also said to host around 15,000 players per month. Studio CEO Assaf “Usul” Ronen says this makes them “more likely to achieve the mass acceptance that the IOC seeks. Racquet sports, it turns out, all together, maybe the largest sports category in the world, eclipsing even world football.”