Photo credit: BLIZZGAMERS
Gaming as a Stigma?
For many young Asians, especially Southeast Asians, growing up, meeting parents’ expectation is already quite a challenge on its own. Parents expect them to have “exceptionally” good grades, get that scholarship and be admitted to that prestigious university of their choosing, study then graduate and finally become that lawyer, doctor, architect, or engineer. Never and please allow me to repeat that: never, in all of these years, any Asian parents will ever let their children become a Professional Gamer or Pro-Gamer, in short.
Even a slight mention of “Game” or “Gaming”, will attract many raised eyebrows from the family and relatives. “Is that even a career option?” they asked.
Not only that, even for those young ones in love, “gaming” is also frowned upon, with girls hating their boyfriends who spent too much time gaming. You can still find on the internet many of those memes and non-memes of girlfriends smashing those game discs to pieces after the breakup.
The only country where gamers are seen as celebrities is South Korea from quite some time ago. Some might argue that is also where modern e-Sports were born. They already have televised eSports in South Korea in the 2000s! Covering games like StarCraft and Warcraft III. They even founded Korean e-Sports Association back in 2000 to promote and regulate e-Sports in the country.
Fast forward a decade, female gamers are no longer a rare sight. We probably should thank Adobe Flash, early facebook games, and zynga for their contribution on growing the number of female gamers, and even introducing casual games to most Asian parents who shunned games before. Now, many parents’ eyes are opened. They start to accept that games are a form of entertainment and exercise for the brain. Yes, those Candy Crush Saga stages are bringing more and more female gamers and older audience into the fold, more so when mobile devices and tablets become mainstream. Children nowadays even glued to mobile screens from an early age and exposed to gaming even earlier than previous generations, thanks to their millenial parents.
As acceptance become more widespread, how about eSports?
Is Professional Gaming a viable career option? Is e-Sports something that worthy to be televised for the masses? Worry not, internet streaming platform came to the rescue. Gaming Streaming platforms, such as: Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and soon Facebook Gaming; give gamers outlet to showcase their skills and entertain their fans at the same time. “Ninja” on Twitch, a Fortnite pro-streamer, reportedly has an income stream of $875,000 a month back on April 2018. Early this month on August 3, 2018, the 26 year old Ninja reportedly broke another twitch record: became the first to hit 10 million followers on twitch.
Oh wait, excuse me, that is the income of a Professional Streamer, not exactly a competitive e-Sports player’s. My bad. But both can be associated closely to one and another, both pro-streamer and competitive pro-gamer.
Show me the Money!
Some of the most notable eSports games that are giving out millions of dollar prize money are DotA 2, League of Legends, CS:GO, HearthStone, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch. Now, in 2018, Epic Games’ latest Battle Royale phenomenon is also throwing $100 million for Fortnite e-Sports, surpassing DotA 2’s last year prize pool money of $38 million. This year’s DotA the International (TI8) will be held on August 20-25, 2018 in Canada.
You might argue that all that are not happening in South East Asia yet.The winner of the 2017 (TI7), is a European team: Liquid, took home $10.8 million. Their opponents, a Chinese team: Newbee, took home $3.9 million as runner-up.
But has this all starting to shift? Can Southeast Asian eSports players grab that piece of sweet million-dollar cake? Probably so, some time in the future, but don’t get your hopes too high at the moment.
Enter: Southeast Asia
Steps taken might still be baby steps but the future is open for Southeast Asian eSports. Major Traditional Sports Event begins to recognize the “e” (electronic) in e-Sports.
On the next Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta & Palembang, Indonesia, there’s eSports as Demonstration Sport Event showcasing these games:
- League of Legends (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena/MOBA)
- Arena of Valor (Mobile MOBA)
- Pro Evolution Soccer (Sports)
- StarCraft II (Real-Time Strategy)
- HearthStone (Collectible Card Game)
- Clash Royale (Mobile Brawler)
Demonstration Sport Event means medals won in this event will not be counted in the official medal tally. eSports will be a medal event in the next 2022 Asian Games. Yes, that means you have 4 years to train, fellow gamers! If you want to represent your country in the next Asian Games, practice hard and play fair.
I have a confession to make: I typed this article while watching MTV Asia’s Hyperplay Livestream. MTV Asia, you asked? Yes, you heard that right. With the tagline: “ASEAN ESPORTS & MUSIC FESTIVAL.” Hyperplay event gathered youths from 10 ASEAN Countries.
As stated on their website:
“Hyperplay, presented by Singapore’s Minisry of Culture, Community and Youth and National Youth Council, brings youths together through two of the biggest cultural cornerstones today – eSports and music”
MTV Asia + League of Legends – ASEAN
Please allow me to repeat that one more time:
Two of the biggest cultural cornerstones today, eSports & Music.
I’ve seen live performances from music artists in Blizzcon and League of Legends Live Concert previously, but this is the very first time competitive gaming and music festival being blended into one. Kudos to MTV Asia, Riot Games, Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and National Youth Council (NYC).
Gaming + e-Sports + Music = Ultra-cool.
The future is bright for gaming and eSports in Southeast Asia. Especially for the youths and the young gamers at heart.