In a press conference held during the historic opening day Esports event of SEA Games 2019 this Wednesday, representatives of the different international esports organizations stated that in each of their respective countries, they all fight a similar battle for esports’ legitimacy as a sport, as an industry and as a viable career for adults and the youth alike. Each nation also uniformly stated that education is the key to fighting back the all negative connotations surrounding esports.
Razer, the official esports sponsor for the 30th SEA Games, brought together representatives of various esports organizations from the participating countries namely: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines,and Indonesia to answer a few questions from the media. During the press conference, the heads fielded questions about the trials of joining the SEA Games, the preparations they’ve done for the historic tournament, as well as the various interactions between the different esports federations.
Perhaps most interesting of all, however, was the panel’s various responses when asked about how to best deal with the negative stigma that accompanies esports in every country. Education was the common throughline in all their answers but each of the countries weaved it in their answers many in different ways.
First off, Samart Benjamin Assarasakorn, Assistant Secretary to the President of Thailand Esports Federation stated that they conduct workshops with the help of actual experienced teachers and motivational coaches. These workshops help educate the people about what esports is, what are federations and sports parties, and what is a governing body. They’ve also talked to their various Ministries of health, interior, and sports to draft guidelines towards fair practice in the budding industry.
They also coordinate with the various international federations much like how they did with the 2019 SEA Games, determining rules, regulations, what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, Assarasakorn also specified that education in communication, especially in the universal linguistic middle ground of English forms a crucial necessity.
In Singapore, as Kelvin Tan, Secretary General of the Singapore Esports Association divulges, they have what they call an esports academy focused on the youth. They teach their young people not just how to play and get good at their respective games but also some things parallel to the same such how to perform and manage in high pressure situations. They also teach antecedent industries which are endemic to esports such as how to broadcast an esport event and how to manage talents. Tan also stated that the idea is to show the people that one can really foster a career in gaming, not just through playing but through many different ways.
Perlangga Putra, Assistant Manager of the Indonesia Esports Association, piggy-backed off that answer to say that they also aim to show people that esports is not just playing games all day long but it is business too. They’ve coordinated with their Ministry of Youth to try to put esports in curriculums and in the classroom not to teach the game but the business of it instead. A lot of the focus is in convincing the populace that esports is a full ecosystem with many different paths to take which lead to a fruitful career in the industry.
The Philippines’ Alvin Juban chimed in to say that the education route for the country has a foot in the door thanks to our gradual integration of Game Development into our educational system. As the president of the Game Developers Association for all of its 10 years of operation, Juban knows what he’s talking about. He cited that at the moment, six schools teach Game Development in the country and this has helped in bringing acceptance to esports and gaming as a possible career. There’s still a lot more ground to cover but at least the seeds have been sown.
Finally, Firdhaus Hashim from Esports Malaysia added that in their country, it’s their own government that promotes esports and helps educate the people to its potential value. Their government also extended its educational campaign to schools and held tournaments with scholarships to various universities up for grabs. They’ve also sought to promote healthy gaming habits to combat the effects of video game addiction and lessen the worries of skeptical adults. They’ve worked with different game publishers in establishing measures of control in the accounts for minors, sometimes timing them out at a certain time late in the night, among other means.
These countries prove that the pen is still mightier than the sword even in matters of the digital realm. Even if there’s still a lot more to be written before the ink is left to dry on the book of esports, with the proper education, there will be a lot more hands to help write it.
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