- A new report by Hong Kong Baptist University has found out strong support for the further development of esports
- Despite that, not too many people recognize esports as a legitimate sporting competition
- The further success of esports in Hong Kong may require stronger governmental incentives and support
Esports in Hong Kong is recognized as a form of entertainment, a new report by the Baptist University indicates. The survey suggests that more government efforts should be put into popularizing the industry.
Study Shows a Path Forward for Esports in Hong Kong
When the NBA announced a dedicated Hong Kong qualifier for the NBA2K, nobody was really surprised. Hong Kong’s proximity to mainland China, the world’s arguably largest esports market, has rubbed off on the local esports ecosystem, which is also clamoring for further expansion of the competitive video gaming industry of the special administrative region.
Now, there is the actual science to back this claim as per a new report published on Thursday and conducted by the Hong Kong Baptist University. According to the research, 72% of respondents supported the further development of esports in Hong Kong. Another 69% argued that the government should play a bigger role in advancing the esports ecosystem by offering subsidies and infrastructure.
Big government has had its negative impact on esports in the region, with Japan unable to hold proper esports events because, until a few years ago, the prize money you could win playing video games in the country was very restrictive. Conversely, in places like Malaysia, esports has been embraced on a governmental level.
Clearly, one option is better than the other. The survey delved into some of the still little-known aspects of esports, too. Some 28% of respondents didn’t know, for example, that esports was introduced as a “demonstration sport” at the 2018 Asian Games and now makes an even stronger debut as part of the Olympics movement.
In fact, esports is even set to make a return during this year’s Southeast Asian Games, with eight confirmed titles. Commenting on the study’s results, Baptist University professor Chung Pak-kwong said that esports constituted a global phenomenon, explaining:
“Esports is a major global development trend in electronic technology, sports, and entertainment industries, and the public, in general, holds a positive attitude towards its development.”
Chung agrees that the government should step in and formulate a policy that would allow esports to advance quicker in Hong Kong. More resources should be deployed, too, from hardware to encouraging educational institutions to participate in esports, offer academic training, and more.
He has cited examples from the mainland with Guangzhou and Tianjin now turning into esports powerhouses, hosting numerous significant events, including the League of Legends World Championship and other ambitious projects.
Esports Is Slowly Being Recognized, But Awareness Remains Low
Asian Electronic Sports Federation chairman Kenneth Fok Kai-kong is another prominent figure in the esports community who agrees and argues that esports should be put on a level that is closer to traditional sports. The arguments for doing so are many and reasonable. Just a day ago, WePlay, leading esports events hosting organization, had to arrange private flights for Chinese teams to participate in the Kiev WePlay! Dota 2 major event.
Granting esports players an athletes’ status would facilitate visa complications, for example. Fok did mention that the launch of the virtual series on an Olympic level is a good start towards the future sustainability of professional video gaming.
Hong Kong is also participating in the 2021 Asian Games, which will give more incentive to officials to pursue and nurture esports as a more significant part of society, Fok hopes. To fully realize this potential, there will need to be more efforts put into the public discourse, too.
While support for esports persists, there is also a bit of negativism towards whether competitive video gaming can be put on an equal footing with traditional sports. For example, 54% of respondents strongly disagreed that esports is a legitimate sporting event. Some 49% argued that esports is video games.
Overall, all of this can be improved by nurturing a better public understanding of what esports is. Hong Kong is definitely shaping up as an esports hub. How big it gets will ultimately depend on the combined efforts of industry and government.