It’s time to embrace and encourage esports

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I still fondly remember how my father gave me money every day so that I could go and play video games, such as Pacman and Space Invaders, at the Park Street video game parlor in Kolkata. . It wasn’t just for fun and entertainment. My dad understood that playing video games would help improve my hand-eye coordination, which would help with my tennis training.


Video games have been around for years, and today they have evolved into esports. The big difference between the 1980s, when I played Pacman to help me with my training, and the present day, is that esports has its dedicated tournaments and a whole ecosystem. Esports are no longer just a supplement to training or recreational activity. It can be practiced professionally, like any other sport.

Besides the fact that the e-sports industry is developing by leaps and bounds in the world and in India, it is also recognized internationally, at the biggest sporting events. Earlier this year, the Olympics first had the Virtual Olympic Series (OVS), where people from all over the world could compete against each other in virtual sports such as cycling, sailing, motorsports, and more. Even the Asian Games are set to introduce esports as a full-fledged medal event in next year’s edition.


It is time for India to embrace esports and seize these opportunities, especially as esports is driven by the growth of mobile esports. Smartphones have now become the norm and the younger generation is intuitively used to them. The pandemic has sped up the online ecosystem, and everything from lessons to meetings is now happening virtually. The number of mobile esports tournaments has also grown, giving people across the country the opportunity to compete with the best, regardless of their location.

In fact, one of the biggest advantages of esports is that it is location independent. With affordable data, young people can train in the comfort of their own homes, learn from top coaches, and compete against other esports athletes. Training is a crucial part of the development of any sport, and with eSports, kids don’t need to be far from home to hone their skills. With the shift from esports to mobile for the masses, even legacy barriers such as the high cost of PCs and gaming consoles have been removed. All you need is a smartphone and a good internet connection to participate in the competitions.


Being location independent, esports is, by default, more inclusive. We are aware of the untapped talent of rural India. So many champions who have won laurels for India in various sports have come from our Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns and villages. With the increase in internet penetration, rural India is on the verge of produce many potential esports champions, as well as the availability of smartphones and data plans become more affordable, bridging the digital divide. More opportunities are the need of the hour. We need to educate people about esports and organize large-scale competitions and tournaments at the national level to find talent and provide them with the right support systems to grow.

With the pandemic forcing children inside, esports can be a good way to help them instill the values ​​of sport. The camaraderie, the teamwork, the spirit of the game, the passion – if properly promoted, they stay the same whether the sport is physical, digital, or a combination of the two. Children can connect virtually with their peers and participate in e-sports competitions to develop sportsmanship. These values ​​are also great things to remember for them in the real world. In a survey conducted this year, 76% of gamers said that by regularly evaluating how to win a game, they could develop their analytical skills.


The adoption of any new technology must be preceded by a change in mentality, and we are gradually seeing our fellow Indians recognize the opportunity presented by esports. Young Tirth Mehta from Gujarat was one of the bronze medalists in the esports demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, at a time when esports were not so widely recognized. However, a lot has changed over the past three years and the large investments pouring into esports in India reflect the general optimism about its growth and recognition.

With India producing several new sports heroes, the latest example being Neeraj Chopra, who got our country excited about a sport like javelin, parents are also encouraging their children to play the sport professionally.


For esports, as for all sports, this trend needs to be further supported and encouraged. We can do this with the right decisions made by stakeholders such as government, esports companies, and esports athletes themselves. It may not be long before esports becomes a medal in one form or another on a big popular stage such as the Olympics, and with proper preparation India could become one. favorites.

Leander Paes is a former Indian tennis player

Opinions expressed are personal


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