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Future of electronic-sports seem electric

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-24 07:04

Future of electronic-sports seem electric

MA XUEJING/CHINA DAILY

The Olympic Council of Asia said last week that e-sports will be part of the competitive events at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province.

That news evoked immediate response from domestic e-sport players. Li Xiaofeng, who won the Warcraft III title at the 2005 and 2006 World Cyber Games and is now coaching new players, wrote in his micro blog: "The dream of a whole generation has finally come true." Many other players also welcomed the OCA decision.

The news, however, has intensified the worries of many parents. On the micro blog of Xinhua News Agency that released the news, a comment that won 108 "likes" reads: "Will that be a new excuse for children to play online games?"

Such concerns of parents are based on their misunderstanding of e-sports. For long, a majority of parents have equated e-sports with online games, and think it is a waste of precious time and money.

Online games involve hundreds of thousands of players and build a virtual society online, in which people accomplish missions assigned by the system. Almost all online games are run by commercial companies seeking profits, which they make by selling virtual equipment to players. And the virtual equipment help the players become strong and powerful in the virtual world.

Sometimes the expensive virtual equipment are so strong that players using them can win against anybody, luring the players to pay big amounts to buy them.

That's why we often read or hear about students' spending huge amounts of money on online games. In February, a student in Changsha, Central China's Hunan province, reportedly paid more than 100,000 yuan ($14,518) in seven months using his father's bankcard to buy virtual equipment to play an online game.

Such online games are harmful for children, because they are a waste of time and money, and could make them believe that money can buy anything.

E-sports are different. They are played on computers, not a field, court, table or board. The five main e-sport games-Warcraft, League of the Legend, DOTA, Counter-Strike and Starcraft-have a similar playing mode: players control one or more characters on a platform to fight each other according to set rules. Money cannot buy anything here, and a person has to be smart and practice hard to win a game.

In essence, e-sports can be described as a kind of chess, made more complicated with the help of computers. Characters based on delicately designed electronic models replace the chess pieces and combat each other more like in real battles. Although more than two players can play together, it is still about winning a mental battle based on equality and fairness.

With computers entering more households, the attitude of more parents toward e-sports is changing. In the 2016 Jiangxi Provincial Red E-sports Competition, held in Nanchang in December, the parents of the majority of players were present at the venue to support them.

The history of world sports shows the trend is to lay greater emphasis on mental competitions. For example, at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, chess was made a display event, and at the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games, chess, Chinese chess and go were listed as competitive sports.

Now it is the turn of e-sports. Maybe in five years from now, we will see Chinese e-sports teams competing to win greater honors.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

zhangzhouxiang@chinadaily.com.cn

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