From Feb­ru­ary 21 to March 3, the first ever inter­na­tion­al mul­ti-sport tour­na­ment in the phy­gi­tal for­mat “Games of the Future” will be held in Kazan. It’s time to under­stand the intri­ca­cies of this inno­v­a­tive trend in sports and answer the most com­mon ques­tions.

Niki­ta Nagorny, Pres­i­dent of the All-Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion of Phys­i­cal Sports, helped us find out what was what in the inno­v­a­tive sports direc­tion.

Phy­gi­tal is the con­cept of a new sport, a com­bi­na­tion of dynam­ic tra­di­tion­al sports dis­ci­plines, e‑sports and tech­nol­o­gy. In oth­er words, it is an inno­v­a­tive two-event for­mat that cre­ates a syn­er­gy between phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal sports dis­ci­plines — hence the name “phy­gi­tal”, con­sist­ing of the words “phys­i­cal” and “dig­i­tal”. “For exam­ple, in phys­i­cal foot­ball, par­tic­i­pants play a con­sole, after which they go out onto the field and com­pete in real foot­ball. The win­ner is the ath­lete who is stronger than his oppo­nents in both stages.”,” explained Niki­ta Nagorny.

All-Russian Federation of Physical Sports (VFFS)

On Jan­u­ary 31, 2023, phys­i­cal sports received offi­cial recog­ni­tion in Rus­sia — by order of the Min­istry of Sports, it was includ­ed in the All-Russ­ian Reg­is­ter of Sports and Sports Dis­ci­plines. On Feb­ru­ary 22, 2023, the world’s first nation­al fed­er­a­tion, the All-Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion of Fid­getal Sports (VFFS), was cre­at­ed in Rus­sia and the first mul­ti-sport tour­na­ment in the fid­getal con­cept “Games of the Future” was planned, which will be held in Kazan from Feb­ru­ary 21 to March 3, 2024. Olympic cham­pi­on in artis­tic gym­nas­tics Niki­ta Nagorny became the Pres­i­dent of the All-Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion of Phys­i­cal Sports (VFFS).

Today, the VFFS is rep­re­sent­ed in more than 60 regions of Rus­sia from Yaku­tia to Kalin­ingrad. Region­al fed­er­a­tions are being cre­at­ed through­out the coun­try and phy­gi­tal cen­ters are being planned, which are devel­op­ing inno­v­a­tive areas at the local lev­el, allow­ing every­one to start their jour­ney in phy­gi­tal sports.

Nikita Nagorny with game prize winners

The main task of region­al fed­er­a­tions is to pro­mote phys­i­cal sports, tak­ing into account the cul­tur­al and nation­al char­ac­ter­is­tics of the region. Region­al fed­er­a­tions also par­tic­i­pate in test­ing new phys­i­cal dis­ci­plines and assist in orga­niz­ing events and tour­na­ments. In total, since the incep­tion of the fed­er­a­tion, more than 300 phys­i­cal sports com­pe­ti­tions have been held, in which more than 5,000 ath­letes from dif­fer­ent regions of the coun­try took part.

“A flag­ship phys­i­cal cen­ter with a total area of ​​1260 sq. m was opened in Kemero­vo. m, which is a unique sports infra­struc­ture facil­i­ty that com­bines an e‑sports club, sports grounds and vir­tu­al real­i­ty zones for the com­pre­hen­sive devel­op­ment and improve­ment of phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal skills of ath­letes. We plan that in the next three years there will be more than 30 dig­i­tal cen­ters across the coun­try, unit­ed by a sin­gle dig­i­tal plat­form and mobile appli­ca­tion,” — Niki­ta Nagorny added.

In 2023, the first nation­al cham­pi­onship in phys­i­cal sports in the his­to­ry of Rus­sia, “The Path of the Cham­pi­on,” was held in more than 15 regions — a total of 65 dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions were orga­nized, where about 2,000 ath­letes com­pet­ed in 6 phys­i­cal dis­ci­plines.

The region­al stage took place in the Kras­no­yarsk and Perm ter­ri­to­ries, Astrakhan, Grozny, Surgut region and oth­er parts of our coun­try. Inter­re­gion­al stage — in Kemero­vo, Izhevsk, Tagan­rog, Irkut­sk, Moscow, Ros­tov-on-Don, Surgut and Vol­gograd. The final stage of the cham­pi­onship took place in Kazan, as part of the 10th Anniver­sary Phy­gi­tal Games. The win­ners of the Cham­pi­onship got the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rep­re­sent the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion at the inter­na­tion­al mul­ti-sport tour­na­ment “Games of the Future” in Feb­ru­ary-March 2024!

What physical disciplines exist?

Nowa­days, phys­i­cal sports in Rus­sia are devel­op­ing in sev­er­al direc­tions: both mass and leisure and com­pet­i­tive. The Games of the Future pro­gram includ­ed five “chal­lenges”: sports, speed, tac­tics, tech­nol­o­gy and strat­e­gy. They con­sist of 21 phys­i­cal sports dis­ci­plines that com­bine phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal for­mats.

Sport — a direc­tion that most clear­ly demon­strates the con­cept of phy­gi­tal: a com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tion­al types with their dig­i­tal ana­logues. Par­tic­i­pants go through two stages of com­pe­ti­tion: the first is a vir­tu­al com­pe­ti­tion in a video game or sim­u­la­tor, the sec­ond is a phys­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion on the site. The main dis­ci­plines today are phy­gi­tal foot­ball, phy­gi­tal hock­ey, phy­gi­tal rac­ing, phy­gi­tal bas­ket­ball, phy­gi­tal skate­board­ing and phy­gi­tal mar­tial arts.

Speed — a chal­lenge in which phys­i­cal ath­letes com­pete for speed in com­put­er or con­sole games. The phys­i­cal stage is a test of endurance and inge­nu­ity.

Tac­tics — com­pe­ti­tions between phys­i­cal ath­letes in video games of the “3D tac­ti­cal com­bat” genre. After vir­tu­al com­pe­ti­tions, teams of phys­i­cal ath­letes com­pete in the laser tag are­na.

Tech­nolo­gies — com­pe­ti­tions using tech­no­log­i­cal devices. This chal­lenge includes dis­ci­plines such as robot bat­tle, drone rac­ing, sports pro­gram­ming and vir­tu­al real­i­ty bat­tles using AR/VR devices. For exam­ple, in drone rac­ing, pilots from sev­er­al teams cov­er a dis­tance of 50 laps at speed. One ath­lete in the team con­trols the drone, the sec­ond is on duty at the pit stop. The bat­tle of robots takes place in the are­na — tech­no­log­i­cal devices are con­trolled by play­ers who must destroy the oppos­ing robots.

IN Strate­gies phys­i­cal ath­letes com­pete against each oth­er in MOBA (Mul­ti­play­er Online Bat­tle Are­na) games. After com­plet­ing a stage in the video game, ath­letes will face phys­i­cal tests of endurance and inge­nu­ity.

Fid­get sports is active­ly gain­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty, and the VFFS helps with this — it devel­ops the fid­get com­mu­ni­ty, orga­nizes and con­ducts com­pe­ti­tions through­out the coun­try, and also pro­motes the open­ing of fid­get cen­ters in the regions of Rus­sia.

How do physical sports competitions work?

In prepa­ra­tion for the “Games of the Future”, the “Fig­i­tal Games” were held in Kazan. A judg­ing sys­tem has been devel­oped for them, which will be used dur­ing phys­i­cal com­pe­ti­tions. It goes beyond tra­di­tion­al and dig­i­tal sports: hav­ing lost in one of the stages of the com­pe­ti­tion, an ath­lete does not lose his chance for fur­ther suc­cess. The cham­pi­on is the one who accu­mu­lates the most vic­to­ries through­out all stages of the com­pe­ti­tion — both dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal.

The points of the phys­i­cal and vir­tu­al stages are summed up, so the out­come of the com­pe­ti­tion is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict — a team that is behind in the first stage can take revenge in the sec­ond and vice ver­sa.

The advan­tage of dig­i­tal sports is that it does not require spe­cial infra­struc­ture — exist­ing sports facil­i­ties can eas­i­ly be adapt­ed for com­pe­ti­tions, and for the dig­i­tal stage you only need a com­put­er and access to a spe­cial pro­gram.

Who is a physical athlete?

There is no place for dis­crim­i­na­tion in phy­gi­tal com­pe­ti­tions, so the “Games of the Future” are open to peo­ple of any gen­der, age, nation­al­i­ty and field of activ­i­ty. Today, phys­i­cal ath­letes over 16 years old can take part in com­pe­ti­tions, and there is no upper age lim­it.

Phy­gi­tal ath­letes are uni­ver­sal play­ers who are exam­ples of har­mo­nious human devel­op­ment. They have both excel­lent phys­i­cal skills and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. Most dis­ci­plines at the vir­tu­al stage require high con­cen­tra­tion — ath­letes must quick­ly ana­lyze the sit­u­a­tion, react and make deci­sions, cor­rect­ly dis­trib­ute forces and resources, think through game tac­tics and adapt them to the phys­i­cal for­mat. The phys­i­cal phase requires endurance, flex­i­bil­i­ty, agili­ty and team­work.

As a rule, eSports ath­letes or peo­ple from tra­di­tion­al sports par­tic­i­pate in phys­i­cal sports com­pe­ti­tions. For pro­fes­sion­al ath­letes, phy­gi­tal is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tin­ue their sports career. Thus, one of the win­ners of the Phy­gi­tal Games in foot­ball was Roman Shishkin, a for­mer play­er of Spar­tak, Loko­mo­tiv and the Nation­al Foot­ball Team.

Community of fidget enthusiasts

About 50 coun­tries from all con­ti­nents, includ­ing Chi­na and Brazil, have expressed inter­est in the con­cept of the “Future Games”. An agree­ment of intent was con­clud­ed with some coun­tries — among them Chi­na, Ser­bia, Belarus, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Argenti­na, Brazil, Viet­nam, Israel.

One of the main fea­tures of phys­i­cal sports is its cross-bor­der nature. This year, Kazan will host ath­letes from more than 100 coun­tries to par­tic­i­pate in the Future Games.

A com­mu­ni­ty of enthu­si­asts is form­ing around fid­get sports, which is devel­op­ing the move­ment in Rus­sia and in the world. The team of Fid­i­tal ambas­sadors includes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from var­i­ous fields of activ­i­ty: Olympic cham­pi­ons Alexan­der Popov and Yuri Borza­kovsky, For­mu­la 1 rac­ing dri­ver Niki­ta Mazepin, MMA fight­er Petr Yan, foot­ball play­er Alex­ey Smertin, co-founder of the Iron­star sports fes­ti­val Vladimir Voloshin, as well as influ­encers Alex­ey Pchelkin, Dmit­ry Osint­sev (Recrent), Anas­ta­sia SpaceMi­ta Bol­shako­va, Dmit­ry Liks Likhanov, Vlad A4 and oth­ers.

Technologies in physical sports

Tech­nol­o­gy plays a big role in the devel­op­ment of phys­i­cal sports. An inno­v­a­tive tech­no­log­i­cal plat­form has been devel­oped to hold com­pe­ti­tions in phys­i­cal sports. It includes ser­vices for ath­letes and spec­ta­tors. Games Man­age­ment Sys­tem (GMS) allows you to auto­mate the accred­i­ta­tion process, the orga­ni­za­tion of logis­tics, trans­port, ath­lete nutri­tion, and so on. The Times and Scor­ing (T&S) sys­tem records the results of par­tic­i­pants dur­ing com­pe­ti­tions. Anoth­er devel­op­ment is Fid­getal-ID, a sys­tem for mass sports that assigns unique num­bers to ath­letes and pro­vides them with access to a pro­gram with which in the future it will be pos­si­ble to hold their own fid­get tour­na­ment. For the con­ve­nience of users, the sys­tems are avail­able in both mobile and desk­top ver­sions.

Fid­get tech­nolo­gies can also include devices that are direct com­pet­i­tive tools for ath­letes — robots, drones, vir­tu­al and aug­ment­ed real­i­ty tech­nolo­gies. For exam­ple, in the game Beat Saber, which is used dur­ing the dig­i­tal stage of one of the dis­ci­plines of the “Games of the Future,” the ath­lete com­pletes pro­gram tasks in vir­tu­al real­i­ty using VR glass­es and con­trollers.

Fid­get sports com­pe­ti­tions are a unique expe­ri­ence not only for par­tic­i­pat­ing ath­letes, but also for fans. Tech­nolo­gies make it pos­si­ble to turn com­pe­ti­tions into a real phy­gi­tal show. For exam­ple, LED floor­ing shows the pulse of ath­letes and changes col­or in response to the move­ments of bas­ket­ball play­ers dur­ing match­es of phys­i­cal sports com­pe­ti­tions. The vir­tu­al sta­di­um cre­ates an immer­sive expe­ri­ence for fans who con­nect to the online broad­cast from their devices. Live chat allows fans to react to the com­pe­ti­tion using emo­ji and com­mands appear­ing on dig­i­tal avatars. Also, dur­ing phy­gi­tal com­pe­ti­tions in laser tag, it is pos­si­ble to mon­i­tor the play­ers’ pulse dur­ing bat­tles and their move­ment around the are­na, which is dis­played on a spe­cial map.

The future of physical sports

The secret of the pop­u­lar­i­ty of phys­i­cal sports is pri­mar­i­ly relat­ed to its rel­e­vance. The new for­mat, exist­ing at the inter­sec­tion of the phys­i­cal and vir­tu­al worlds, meets the needs of young peo­ple. It opens up new oppor­tu­ni­ties and prospects for devel­op­ment in both pro­fes­sion­al and mass sports.

“Games of the Future” are intend­ed to become a cat­a­lyst for the devel­op­ment of phys­i­cal sports in the world. Phy­gi­tal sports are inter­est­ing for their enter­tain­ment val­ue. And this is what will move him towards pop­u­lar­i­ty. Accord­ing to view­ers’ feed­back, the phys­i­cal for­mat is more spec­tac­u­lar and dynam­ic. The speed of the game and the desire to win in both stages encour­age ath­letes to attack more deci­sive­ly and score faster.

“Fig­i­tal sports is ahead of the curve, because one of the main goals of this area is the desire to show peo­ple the diver­si­ty of sports dis­ci­plines. I do not rule out that new phys­i­cal dis­ci­plines will appear in the future. Region­al phys­i­cal sports fed­er­a­tions hold com­pe­ti­tions in new dis­ci­plines, for exam­ple, phys­i­cal hand­ball, phys­i­cal squash, and phys­i­cal curl­ing. They orga­nize and host events them­selves and invite guests. By the way, all this turns out to be so in demand… I am sure that the big sports fes­ti­val, which will be held in Kazan this year, will be of inter­est not only to Rus­sians, but also to res­i­dents of oth­er coun­tries, and will also encour­age every­one who wants to start engag­ing in phys­i­cal sports,” — Niki­ta Nagorny not­ed.