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eSports take centre stage

Thursday 27 October 2016

Could eSports take on more traditional sports in popularity? Last year competitive video gaming was worth £500m and it is growing all the time.

The global audience for eSports last year was 226 million, with people tuning in to watch others play games such as Call of Duty, League of Legends, Counter-Strike and Starcraft II among others, with top prizes of up to $9,000,000 for the winning team (Dota 2 International 2016 Final).

Now the University of Salford is to host a conference discussing what the future holds and what the UK could gain from embracing professional gaming.

Professional gaming leagues have sprung up around the world, particularly in Asia, but so far the UK only has about 40 professional gamers. It is an area that experts think could grow in this country. In the last few months both Manchester City and West Ham United football clubs have signed players to represent their clubs in the virtual world of football game FIFA, as the power of eSports begins to be recognised.

Chester King, CEO of eGames Group will be giving the keynote address at the conference. He has spent the last twenty years working in traditional sport with the FA and LTA among other organisations before getting involved in eSports last year.

He said:  “I was concerned that eSports would end up like poker with too much focus on the money. So I made an approach to the UK Government and the IOC to create a new medal only international eSports competition, focusing on national pride - The eGames. The government liked the concept and invited us to host a two-day eSports showcase during the Rio Olympics in British House. It was fantastic and generated a huge amount of interest.

“Some people are critical of eSports but they are not aware of the benefits of playing. For the younger generation (who no longer watch TV) playing eSports is a credible activity, which I am keen to promote. eSports can teach life skills such as dexterity, problem solving, leadership, strategy and working as part of a team. There is still a smokescreen that they are waste of time, when actually they create transferable skills that can be used for career growth, particularly being a cyber professional. There are also benefits for your mental health and positive psychology from gaming.”

Professor Garry Crawford of the University of Salford, who is organising the event said: “This is going to be an in-depth look at the competitive video gaming world.

“esports is a rapidly growing global phenomenon, but in many respects both industry and academics are still only starting to get to grips with the possibilities and opportunities this exciting new area offers.

“This conference is a key opportunity to engage academics and industry experts in discussing and envisaging the future of esports, and also how this intersects with, and relates to, more traditional sports, such as football in the UK.” 

The conference will take place at MediaCity UK, Salford Quays on 2nd Nov.

Find out more

Sam Wood

0161 295 5361