While eSports has been growing at a staggering rate, the acceptance of it from parents is still an issue faced by many young and aspiring gamers. The reasons for this are many - the most common is the fact that all gaming-related activities are traditionally looked down upon and considered to be either children's pastime or the hobbies of a lazy man.
The increase in prize money in recent years has surely changed opinions, but as far as gaming is considered in India, I feel the situation is still the same as 10 years ago. The common opinion is that playing video games negatively impacts academic performance and hence hurts the prospects of children who indulge in the activity.
The question that comes up is, are there no benefits of gaming? Does it help with college prospects like other sports?
In recent years, gaming has been linked with several benefits. Studies show that gamers who played action games at least four times a week for a minimum of one hour were better at processing complex information compared to non-gamers. Similarly, action game players are also found to be better at identifying distractions and are hence quicker at returning to their main task.
Gamers in tests displayed faster reaction times. Studies also show that gamers who play video games that involve teamwork are more likely to help others in real life, indicating that gaming may also help children develop empathy. One can also look at the example of chess as far as the benefits of gaming are considered.
Future prospects?In countries such as USA that have a better-developed eSports industry, there are many scholarships related to gaming and esports. As a matter of fact, there are many colleges that offer scholarships for gamers. This even includes the Ivy League schools such as Cornell University. The reason behind such a situation could probably be attributed to the fact that there is a prominent eSports competition circuit at the college level. As of 2016, there were as many as 63 colleges that had an eSports team. While the situation in the UK is not as developed as it is in the USA, there is the University of Roehampton in London that offers eSports scholarships to aspiring students.
In India, HP has taken the lead and created the first eSports scholarship. HP eSports Gold Quest Scholarship was announced towards the end of last year. The scholarship is available for three aspiring gamers between the ages of 16-20. The benefits include a host of HP gaming equipment as well as a salary of Rs 50,000 per month. The selection of the winners is currently underway.
This brings up the point of whether we could see Indian colleges going down the same route and offer students an eSports scholarship or maybe take in students based on their performance at eSports events.
Esports is set to become a medal event at the Asian Games 2022 and this is beginning to bring a certain amount of legitimacy to the industry. There is also the fact that IIT Guwahati is all set to hold their first eSports festival. The gaming festival, 'Funniche', will be a part of the institute's yearly techno-management festival 'Techniche'. If the event is successful, it may motivate more colleges to host eSports and gaming events which would, in turn, hasten the development of college-level eSports in India.
As it has been witnessed with traditional sports such as cricket (IPL) and football (ISL), the development of a league is crucial for turning eSports into a viable career. Scholarships, while they are beginning to emerge in India, are too few as of now. I am of the opinion that this is a very real possibility that in the future and eSports will emerge as a viable career for all Indian gamers. But as of today, there is a need for investments from more companies like HP and colleges like IIT, Guwahati.