My Take

E-sports promoters are taking us for a ride

Organisers of Hong Kong’s first gaming and music festival have already taken millions from the government for an activity that is more addiction than sports

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 1:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 2:48pm

So-called e-sports is not just a contradiction in terms, it’s an insult to real sports. If children and young adults who think they are Peter Pan want to play electronic games non-stop for days until they vomit or faint from exhaustion, it’s none of my business.

But I hardly think taxpayers should fund them – or rather the game organisers and sellers who make serious money from their addiction. That’s what it is: addiction, not sports.

The government is contributing HK$35 million to a three-day e-sports and music festival this week, which is billed as the city’s first and is organised by the Tourism Board. Some of the money goes towards paying the players’ travel and accommodation expenses and handing out hundreds of free tickets to the event by the Home Affairs Bureau.

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It’s part of the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China. The subsidy has obviously whetted the appetite of such companies for free money, as e-sports industry representatives have been reported to have urged the government “to dedicate more resources to nurturing professional gamers and positioning the city as a regional gaming hub”.

I grant you the industry is big money. Hell, I used to play Call of Duty, too. Revenue from the global e-sports market is expected to jump 41 per cent to US$696 million this year, with the number of viewers growing by 19.6 per cent to 385.5 million, according to Amsterdam-based gaming industry research service Newzoo. But if it’s so popular already worldwide and in Hong Kong, why do we need the government to promote it? Believe me, our kids are already in over their heads, and plenty of companies are happy to invest in promotion on their own.

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Parents and public officials don’t need to promote addiction. If anything, they might want to do the opposite.

Gamers and their promoters are always telling people gaming is a career and how much money they can make from sponsors and winning tournaments. Well, tell me again in a few years when you have developed repetitive strain injuries while younger and younger players beat you at your own game.

They say retired gamers can become game analysts, coaches, commentators, and product developers. Seriously, you must be joking.

Traditional parenting has a lot of flaws, but its frowning on excessive computer playing is surely right.