The people who pioneered gaming were smart. Super smart. And the people who first put games online were something else. Thanks to them, we’ve all been gamers at some point in our lives, to one extent or other. Chess, Tetris, Super Mario, you name it. Today, especially if you have a smartphone. Say you only play when you’re waiting in line for something. That makes you a casual gamer. You’re an avid gamer if you make time to play. When you’re dedicated to one or two games, have clans that practice together, complete with your own regime and schedule, that’s what you call hard core.
And then there are people who go even further. Enter: the Spartans of the gaming world – or at least, cyber athletes who compete professionally in electronic sports or e-Sports. Never heard of e-Sports? That’s probably because not much of it happens in Brunei. At least not on a large scale – yet. Around the world, there are hundreds and millions of e-Sports enthusiasts, and counting.
E-sports is a form of video game competitions. What you get is multiple players gathered either online or, more typically, in one big space battling it out over a local area network (LAN). Maybe you’ve come across a crowd of mostly young males glued to large monitors, playing the same game at the local cybercafe? Well, that could have been a video game tournament (now you know). And don’t expect to see donut-encrusted-hermit-type males on the top of the leader board, either. Professional gamers have the mindset, skills and attitude of an athlete. It takes some serious skills, planning, and timing to be that good. Plus, even rules of good sportsmanship apply.
It’s not just people taking e-Sports seriously. Some countries actually do have their own national e-Sport boards and teams. At major global competitions like The International, The Extreme Masters and League of Legends World Championships, tons of spectators come to watch. And if you can’t go to the competitions in America, Europe or Asia, you can simply stream online in real time. These competitions have been going on for years and more and more people are getting into them. At that level, winning means getting the kind of prize money that’s got you laughing all the way to the bank. For some cyber athletes, this is actual work, with actual pay (they are professionals, after all).
In Brunei, the winners receive their bounty in the shape of a giant mock cheque – just a smaller one. But what lacks in size, is made up through sponsorship, where they can definitely develop their competitive talent. It takes skills and the money to go overseas and get the exposure at competitions – yup, guts, sweat and tears.
That being said, there are other opportunities like game development or programming. If you’re more of an entrepreneur, how about event management or running a cybercafe? Some hard core gamers can even train or coach others, and become referees or commentators at competitions. The list goes on.
Since there isn’t much going on so far in the e-Sports department at our home turf, it’s hard to tell what we might be missing out on. Hang around. Like everything else, e-Sports and its following are growing fast. But with more of us getting into it, it won’t be long for a home grown pro-gamer or team to come out of the woodwork. Watch this space because there’s bound to be a couple of rough diamond gamers who are a click away from switching on Beast mode.