Indulgence in eSports and an exit – Sohrab Hussain
Over the years, the ploy of getting out of mother’s sight has changed in various ways. The youngsters nowadays look for an odd chance to play with the eSports. As if, it was yesterday, the local boys used to excuse themselves naughtily to play on the field or to play outdoor games such as cricket or football, whenever they found their time after school or on the weekends. The whole day is gone with blink of an eye and at dusk, the regret of not being able to finish is oddly visible on their faces.
Now, the urban parents are unable to send their children out to playground which results in their children paying their attention to something that is available at hand, for example, computer or laptop.
These devices either have the application installed or the connection of internet that pave the opportunity to play eSports as smoothly or secretly as possible.
Moreover, if your private tutor informs that he is not coming for today or somehow your coaching is declared off today, no one can remove you from the screen of computer for a while until you finish the game. This phenomenon is rapidly being popular among the youths in Bangladesh. Nowadays, we can simply find a youth who does not only know Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi, but also know the ‘Faker’, a Korean eSports star playing in the League of Legends and Player of SK Telecom Team, a Korean Telecom as well as eSports Company. As much as the time going, the youths are now being amalgamated with eSports. Since last one decade, the eSports has overwhelmingly developed and won the hearts of a good number of youngsters around the world. In this digital era, eSports attract its consumers in different forms i.e. online Live Streaming, World eSports Competition, Video Games in Online and for Smartphone and so on.
If we go back to the emergence, the very first eSports event took place in 1972 at Stamford University on the video game Spacewar and the first video game competition successfully took place in 1980. For rapid expand of the internet in 1990s, the eSports started to gain traction and attentions of some famous companies. Nintendo or Blockbuster began sponsoring to arrange world championship, resulting ‘The Red Annihilation Tournament’ become the first World eSports event ever. Following that Sam Mathews and Anne Mathews formed an eSports organisation named Fnatic (Fanatic) in 2004 and made it one of the largest eSports organisations. It has several eSports teams for different world championships e.g. Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Call of Duty, Overwatch and League of Legends. The Fnatic’s League of Legends team won the ‘League of Legends World Championship’ in 2011. Its Counter-Strike team is also considered as one of the finest teams in the world of eSports. In 2017, ‘Defense of the Ancients 2’ (Dota 2) was the biggest eSports world championship in terms of prize money. The amount of prize pool was $24,687,919.Intel, an American multinational corporation and technology company,sponsors Electronic Sports League (ESL), German based an eSports organiser and production company. At the same time, for its increasing demand among the youthsters as well as economic benefits, the football club like Manchester City started signing contract with the stars of eSports. Like some other ambitious club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has also signed agreement with a whole squad of e-players for different eSports e.g. League of Legends, Counter-Strike and so on.
The staring figure of revenue from eSports is on the rise. According to Newzoo, an eSports data expert, the contribution of eSports to the economy was $ 130min 2012 which hit the figure of $ 465m in 2017. The worldwide market revenue of eSports is now $906m and by 2021, the market is expected to hit $1600m. In global level, its total audiences are approximately 385m in 2018where 191m regular and 194 irregular viewers. Like the football or cricket stars, eSports stars also earn a remarkable amount of money e.g. Faker, a twenty-one-year old eSports young star of South Korea, has already been paid up $2.6m in a year. Simply the young people are taking it as an emerging platform to earn the money, or to become a star, or to enjoy the leisure time immensely. As the days are passing, the number of youths is increasing in eSports competitions. Statistics shows that among the 210.5m eSporters, from adolescent to the young adult, are mostly involved in eSports competitions till August 2017.
The Uses and Gratification Approach illustrates that such demand of eSports rests upon three main pillars i.e. 1) Beliefs and Evaluation, 2) Need Gratifications consumers seek & 3) Need Gratification they obtain. In turn, the search for gratifications leading to media consumption is a result of beliefs. It is often used as the instrument to fulfill the basic need of extrinsic and/or intrinsic gratifications. Some studies examined the gratifications obtained through more general online and competitive offline gaming. Those studies found ten need gratifications: five are competitive i.e. a) competition, b) achievement, c) challenge, d) reputation and e) rewards, which gear towards prosperity through competition, and the rest fives are hedonic i.e. a) social relationship, b) escapism, c) self-fulfillment, d) fun, and e) virtual identity which lead towards immersion and socialisation.
Besides, the online competition and the world championship in international level, eSport is about to reach all classes of its consumers through either forms like online or offline. We can hardly find a young who does not play/like Angry Bird, Temple Run or Subway Surfers and so on. No game is free from political, or cultural, or historical, or of religious elements and its impact and influence on the youngsters are also immense, and they just don’t know it.
Many games and eSports contain the contexts and consequences of history in the form of game. For instance, “Maoriland,” a game about the indigenous people of New Zealand and their experience with European colonisation where a missionary hits Maori people with a Bible. It’s a reflection of real acts of violence, including in the name of religion that occurred during colonisation. The game ‘The New World’ is made focusing on slave trade of Middle Passage as a way to illuminate the experiences of slaves. The designer of this game Brenda Romero points out “game mechanics, the systems that determine the game play, can give players the experience teachings of deep and powerful lessons”. In contrast, the games like “Age of Empires” focus players’ attention on “discovering” or “claiming” land on a map, they are inherently reinforcing colonial views of the world.
To popularise all the elements of indigenous culture, the indigenous game designers and developers have been working to portray indigenous storytelling, teachings and ways of knowing for their own people.“The ‘Mikan’ is a video game adaptation of the Anishinaabe version of a traditional ‘moccasin game’. ‘Mikan players click on moccasins to find birch bark carvings of tools and belongings related to harvesting wild rice. Throughout the game, players hear Anishinaabemowin, the Anishinaabe language spoken across North America and centralised around the Great Lakes region. Indigenous forms of play, like those in ‘Mikan’ can be embedded into wider game worlds, such as competitive hunting seen in ‘Spirit Lake’ and ‘Fish Lake’.”
The way the symbols of religion are portrayed in a game depends on target consumers. Temple is a place of worship in Hinduism and the ‘Temple Run’, a very popular game mostly played in Smartphone, is holding the designs, religious structures and spirit of Hinduism through such video game. Similarly from cultural perspective, there are lots of online and offline games, built on the themes of western cultures i.e. wearing short dresses, sexual provocation or even their dialogue also signifies the cultural values of their beliefs or ideologies.
Since the youths are being deeply involved in eSports, the guardians or teachers should know how to handle such addiction of their beloved offspring towards the eSports. In this regard, the example of Bang Seung-ho would be worth mentioning. Ahyeon polytechnic high school situated in South Korea takes the students who have dropped out from the mainstream. When principal Bang Seung-ho realised that the students are fleeing from the school because they spent their time playing the game over the night, he took immediate action setting up a PC bang in the school. He offered to play in the afternoon and evening only those students who completed their regular studies in the morning. He said, “Once you embraced those kids, recognising what they are good at, their mentality changed. They started studying as well.” Thereafter, seven or eight of Bang’s students have turned professional in eSports.
The author is independent and freelance writer on national and international issues.