EditorialsIndia's next Olympian from esports

India’s next Olympian from esports

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India has taken a shine to esports – this was particularly true in the lockdown necessitated by the pandemic. The country’s gaming industry has climbed the number one spot in the world with mobile users being the largest followed by PC users and tablet users.

The low data tariffs, high-speed 4G internet and access to affordable smartphones have helped accelerate the number of mobile users. Industry experts are of the opinion that esports will dominate the Indian gaming scenario in 2021. India’s online gaming space currently stands at $290 million, however, a report by Deloitte suggests that India’s market is poised to grow to $2.8 billion by 2023.

Esports – Then & Now

Today, India’s youth has a growing appetite for content and is looking for diverse content. There is a constantly growing need for virtual entertainment and interaction with peer groups. In a world where the home has become the central place for all activities, consumers are looking to fulfill their virtual social spaces thus paving way for mobile esports.

Furthermore, a report by Statista states that India recorded about 365 million online gamers in the financial year 2020. This number is estimated to reach 510 million by the fiscal year 2022. Another report by KPMG also estimates that the audience for esports will exceed 130 million by 2025.

Winning the Game & the Medal

Recently, the Indian Olympic Association has announced that esports will be officially recognized as a medal event. It is now a medal event at global sporting events: namely the 2022 Asian Games. India will see a rise in many successful esports athletes.

It is also expected that some “Made in India” games will be played at International sports events like the Asian Games. Recently, the government has finally elected to push for esports to be properly recognized as a sport by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). This inclusion gives a fair chance to players and highlights that esports is a serious business and requires skills and hard work.

Esports organizations today are seeking creativity, effort, and innovation in their upcoming talent pool. The key to making a successful career in the gaming industry is a skill, the ability to conduct outreach, and most importantly hard work. In this multilayered esports industry, it is imperative for individuals to choose a niche that best matches their set of skills. One should focus on constantly practicing their skill and improving their set of skills.

In the year 2018, Tirth Mehta, an Indian won a bronze medal at the digital card-based gaming tournament, playing the collectible card game Hearthstone, this victory marked the beginning of a successful time for India’s esports community. In esports the gamers train hard enough as any other physical sport, the esports gamers deserve recognition and a platform for competing against global players. This move will definitely help in plotting India on the world map for esports. 

However, that’s not all. With a large part of the gaming audience coming from India globally, and with the abundance of creative talent here, it’s not a pipe dream to expect Made in India games also getting international recognition at Esports tournaments like the Asian Games. In fact, it’s surprising to note the lack of a strong push from existing Esports bodies in India.

Bringing esports into the limelight

Esports industry has a  bright future in India with a  large fan and audience base. It has a lot to offer to established as well as aspiring gamers. This growing market is expected to create more opportunities in the form of jobs and encourages the youth to opt for a full-time career. Today, recognition by the government is the need of the hour. It will help establish the fact that esports is a serious business and not just for the purpose of entertainment. The players will get the deserved recognition. 

Esports also has a lot of job opportunities to offer, some of the options are that of a coder, influencer, or in-game commentator. Most importantly, esports is a gender-neutral space. A step by the government in this direction will attract a lot of additional talent and position esports as a financially viable career option.

A clear distinction between the game of chance and the game of skill will also help in portraying the sector in a different light. Lastly, the sector also requires initiatives for enhancing the skills of the existing and budding players such as esports academies.

Dibyojyoti Mainak
Senior Vice President, Policy, Communications, and Law at MPL.

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