Game over? 80 per cent of Hong Kong’s young people have no interest in e-sports as a career

An NGO calls on city officials to recognise video games as a sport after survey shows lack of interest in what is expected to explode into a multibillion-dollar industry 

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 January, 2018, 5:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 January, 2018, 5:02pm

Hong Kong’s largest youth NGO has asked the government to hit the reset button on video games and recognise the pastime as a sport after a survey revealed 80 per cent of young people had no interest in pursuing the potential multibillion-dollar industry as a career.

The respondents, aged between 15 and 29, cited peer and parental pressure, the lack of career prospects and even the stigma associated with video games as reasons for holding them back.

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The organisation behind the study, Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, called on city officials to boost the industry’s image, saying a complex housing an arena, training facilities and lodging for players should also be built to aid e-sports development in the long run.

Formally designated video games as a sport would “raise the status of the industry, and open up funding reserved for elite athletes,” Dennis Huen, a researcher with the federation, said on Tuesday.

An e-sports hub should also be built as a permanent base, the federation said, as the group noted talented players have left Hong Kong for neighbouring regions such as Taiwan and the mainland, which have complete training and tournament facilities.

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A recent drive by the government to diversify the city’s economy has given rise to industries focusing on innovation and technology.

The e-sports industry ticks all the boxes – it puts businesses involving telecommunications, software development, convention and even retail under one roof.

Accounting firm PwC has predicted annual revenues in Hong Kong’s video game industry would grow to US$1 billion (HK$7.8 billion) by 2021, underlining its potential.

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But the survey exposed obstacles hindering those eyeing a slice of the lucrative pie.

A poll of its 1,407 members aged 15 to 29 has found that eight out of 10 were “not interested” in jobs related to e-sports.

Opposition from the family was the main problem, while others felt the career span was too short or that it was difficult to make ends meet because of low salaries.

However, 68 per cent of those surveyed agreed Hong Kong should further develop the industry, as it would diversify the economy and provide alternative job options for teenagers.

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Boiky Chow, who founded Esport Generation, a firm organising video game tournaments, said there was much room to grow among the industry.

“How often do you hear about large-scale tournaments being held in Hong Kong? I think the market is far from reaching saturating point, so these initiatives would definitely help.”