City Weekend

E-sports can help firms tap into youth market, says man behind Hong Kong’s first all-female professional video gaming team

Man Kin-fung, chief executive of Global eSports, says the sky’s the limit for industry ahead of three-day festival in August

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 April, 2017, 1:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 12:34pm

Few people now question the economic potential of the multibillion-dollar video gaming industry, but the concept of playing games at a professional level, known as electronic sports, or e-sports, remains too far-fetched for many.

But that is surprising, says the man who markets Hong Kong’s first all-female professional e-sports team, considering how fundamental technology has become to people’s daily lives.

Man Kin-fung, chief executive officer at Global eSports, is frank when asked how much he knew about e-sports before signing PandaCute to a contract to become professional gamers.

Gamer girls: Hong Kong’s first all-female professional video gaming team PandaCute defy doubters

“Honestly, I couldn’t communicate with them in the beginning … We were all speaking Cantonese but I thought to myself, how come I couldn’t understand a word they said?” he recalled.

The marketing and creative media specialist soon realised the generational divide in Hong Kong was bigger than he had imagined.

“I studied what they did. It turned out they were using a lot of jargon in their daily communication, even outside of the gaming world,” he said.

“People talk of a generation gap. I would say this is actually a canyon – the young and the old are so far apart they speak different languages.”

Global eSports organises events and issues news updates on social media for the video gaming industry. Man set up the company.

“For our older generation, teenagers looked up to singers, actors or sports stars,” Man said.

“But these days they worship the top e-sports players. The funny thing is, even the biggest names in the video gaming world would not be recognised on the street other than by these teenagers.”

Since its inception half a year ago, the PandaCute team have attracted numerous sponsorships and collaboration opportunities.

“I never imagined it would be such a success,” Man says with a smile. “I think businesses were starting to realise how difficult it was to tap into the youth market, but now I think e-sports could play a pivotal role in this.”

An upcoming event they have high hopes for is an e-sports festival in August, for which Global eSports has submitted a tender to the Tourism Board, which is organising the three-day showpiece event aimed at putting Hong Kong on the global e-sports map.

But Man said the city had a lot of catching up to do.

“The [popularity of e-sports] didn’t just happen overnight – there were large-scale competitions in all parts of the world, with huge audiences and a massive following,” he said.

“The PandaCute team we set up was just a warm-up exercise for Hong Kong, so to speak.”