Video games aren’t just a way to relax, destress and connect with others. They also train focus and concentration. Playing them is becoming an increasingly acceptable way to make a living. In 2019, the SEA games will showcase esports (electronic sports) for the very first time. Players will compete for medals in seven games on consoles, mobile phones and computers.
Esports players don’t need to run fast, know a sport or be physically strong. Their training focuses on quick thinking, concentration strategy, endurance and teamwork. Adaptive controllers and built-in game settings make it easier for those with visual or physical disabilities to play on an equal level with abled peers. Even those who don’t play, but are interested in the games, have career opportunities open to them as part of media or support teams for players.
While the gaming scene in Malaysia is still developing, here are some things to consider for those thinking of building a career in esports:
Opportunities and how to start
It’s important to find your niche in esports. This would be a specific place or position where you can thrive. For example, you might have a passion or talent for real-time strategy. You should therefore concentrate on games that are focused on RTS instead of games where it is less important. Whatever you enjoy about games, or whatever you’re good at, there is probably a game you can play professionally that includes those features.
Join esports clubs connected with your school or college to get started in the scene. If you’re not in school, or your institution has no gaming clubs, look for private clubs instead.
Even if you don’t play games yourself, you can still pursue a career in esports. You can end up becoming an analyst, a shoutcaster or announcer, a coach, or an event manager.
Formal education related to esports is currently rare. However, those who are interested in getting into esports can gain tips, tricks and knowledge from the gamers, streamers and broadcasts that are currently available online. There is no shortage of good plays, bad plays and video analyses to be found on platforms such as Youtube, Twitch, Mixer and Smashcast.
There is one institute of higher education in Malaysia that offers courses related to esports: the Academy of Esports or AOES (http://www.academyofesports.com.my/). AOES offers an esports athlete programme, streamer development programme, and esports events management programme. More information can be found at the website.
Once a player is confident in their skills, they can attempt to join an existing team – or create their own. They will train, plan and play with their team in local and regional tournaments, gaining experience and qualifying for bigger tournaments and prizes.
Networking will also be key in finding, keeping and developing your niche in your gaming scene. Get to know the other people in your gaming community and expand your circle of friends and contacts. This helps you to understand what’s going on in the gaming scene, who’s doing what, and who you’re keen on working with to build your career.
It’s also important to note behaviour that can be harmful, such as trolling and griefing (taunting and disrupting other players’ enjoyment of the game), and how to avoid both becoming targeted by this behaviour and engaging in it yourself.
Today, games often come with accessibility settings that make it easier for gamers with disabilities to play. This can include custom control settings, subtitles, and colour blindness settings.
If you have trouble with physical controllers, there are custom-made controls out there that you can use in place of keyboards or console controllers. Some examples include:
Entering gaming as a professional field has its own challenges. At the time this article was written, professional gaming in Malaysia was facing the following blocks in development:
- little local sponsorship
- poor existing infrastructure
- few national leagues
Some players choose to leave the country and play in other countries, or join international teams. However, government support for esports is slowly increasing and things may improve in the future.
As gaming becomes more mainstream and acceptable, a career in gaming or esports is also becoming another way to support yourself through personal passion. If you’re entering the developing gaming scene in Malaysia as a PWD, you should be equipped hardware-wise and expectations wise, and ready to engage with and encourage positive community and interactions.
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