E-games get the recog­ni­tion they de­serve

China Daily (Canada) - - VIEWS -

Many con­sid­ered elec­tronic games a nui­sance. Most par­ents and teach­ers hated them. They are not good for chil­dren, agreed a ma­jor­ity of com­men­ta­tors. Even last year, a Xin­hua News Agency com­men­tary said they were “in­vok­ing vi­o­lence among chil­dren” and kids’ ac­cess to them should be re­stricted.

But elec­tronic games are now get­ting the recog­ni­tion they de­serve. In De­cem­ber, Nan­guang Col­lege of Com­mu­ni­ca­tionUniver­sity of China an­nounced that it will of­fer a ma­jor in e-sport anal­y­sis from 2017, and its grad­u­ates will re­ceive a bach­e­lor’s de­gree. This is a first in China.

The col­lege has in­vited sev­eral do­mes­tic e-sport stars, such as Li Xiaofeng who won the world cham­pi­onship in the 2005World Cy­ber Games, to be “pro­fes­sion tu­tors” for the new­ma­jor to make the course more prac­ti­cal and at­trac­tive.

This shift would not have been pos­si­ble with­out two ma­jor changes in so­ci­ety.

First, those born in the 1980s have ei­ther en­tered or will soon en­ter their 30s, so they have a big­ger say in pub­lic opin­ions. Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 sur­vey of 1,200 par­ents of kinder­garten stu­dents in North China’s He­bei prov­ince, 74.2 per­cent re­spon­dents said they al­lowed their chil­dren to play com­puter games for a cer­tain time every day. The key point: most of these par­ents were born in the 1980s. And a sur­vey of Grade 5 pupils in Bei­jing in 2012 showed the ma­jor­ity of their par­ents, most of them born in the 1970s, al­lowed them to play e-games only once a week. Call it a gen­er­a­tion gap if you will.

The other change is the pros­per­ing of the e-sport in­dus­try. From Jan­uary to June 2016, the do­mes­tic e-game sales in­creased to 78.8 bil­lion yuan ($11.34 bil­lion), up 30 per­cent year-on-year, and al­most dou­ble that of 2014.

Price­wa­ter­house Coop­ers even pre­dicted China’s e-game in­dus­try will grow on av­er­age 7.4 per­cent a year from 2016 to 2020, much higher than the global av­er­age of 4.8 per­cent and higher than the coun­try’s GDP growth. Given the pros­per­ity of the e-game in­dus­try, the au­thor­i­ties as well as or­di­nary peo­ple can no longer af­ford to ig­nore e-sport.

In Septem­ber 2015, the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sport of­fi­cially listed e-sport as the 78th sport pro­gram of China. In 2016, China had more than 170 mil­lion e-game play­ers, which is a huge mar­ket with large com­mer­cial po­ten­tial.

Re­ports show that stu­dents of the new ma­jor at Nan­guang Col­lege will study core lessons such as e-sport anal­y­sis, op­er­a­tional anal­y­sis and psy­chol­ogy, as well as e-sport pro­gram man­age­ment. And grad­u­ates who ma­jor in the sub­ject will help strengthen the do­mes­tic e-game in­dus­try.

The in­dus­try, how­ever, is far from com­plete, with its main pil­lars be­ing pro­fes­sional play­ers and soft­ware de­vel­op­ers. It lacks such tal­ents as club man­agers, in­vest­ment con­sul­tants and ac­tiv­ity or­ga­niz­ers. Only when such tal­ents work to­gether can the do­mes­tic e-game in­dus­try re­al­ize its full po­ten­tial.

We hope more col­leges will fol­low Nan­guang Col­lege’s ex­am­ple, not only for the ben­e­fit of the e-game in­dus­try but also to open new chan­nels for youths to find suit­able jobs.

The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. zhangzhoux­i­ang@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

MA XUEJING / CHINA DAILY

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