Gaming industry prepares for Asian Games, but challenges remain

NEW DELHI : Thirty-year-old professional player Ankur Diwakar has taken time off from his regular training schedule over the past few months to focus on his mental and physical well-being. He says he exercises and meditates more regularly now and focuses on controlling his nerves. Why? Because Diwakar is gearing up for the upcoming Asian Games in 2022, where eSports will be a medal-winning event for the very first time.

Diwakar is one of several esports athletes who have started preparing for September’s event in Hangzhou, China. Players from across Asia will compete for medals in eight popular game titles. “I make sure I only play two days a week and the remaining five days are spent training,” he added.

The admission of esports as a medal event has been a boost for the gaming industry in India. Besides the players, some big companies and industry bodies have also stepped in to speed up preparations. For example, Asus created its Republic of Gamers (ROG) Academy in 2021 and is working with gamers to help them prepare.

Additionally, the Electronic Sports Federation of India (ESFI), which has been tasked with organizing the Asian Games Qualifiers in India, is working to ensure that shortlisted players have access to coaching, mentoring and support infrastructure. first order. ESFI is recognized by the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF), which is recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia.

“Our biggest challenge is managing anxiety. If you look at esports, most players are very young. We are in the process of recruiting mentors who will provide mentorship to the shortlisted players to overcome the psychological challenge of playing at such an important event,” said Lokesh Suji, ESFI Director and AESF Vice President.

Suji said the Federation plans to hold online matches with neighboring countries. Regional qualifiers could also help players overcome the mental barrier of playing such a big event as most Indian players are otherwise used to playing in local tournaments.

The ESFI has also partnered with cinema company INOX to use cinemas across the country to hold qualifying tournaments for the Games, as well as training sessions for the players.

However, despite growing efforts, challenges remain. According to Diwakar, representing the country at the Games is a “different psychological experience” and there is more pressure. He said that although players in India are better off financially now, especially after a gaming boom since the pandemic, good mentorship and quality coaching is often lacking.

Suji also lamented the shortage of trainers in esports as the industry is still in its infancy. Getting international coaches from other markets can be expensive and difficult for players due to language barriers etc.

According to a June 2021 EY Media and Entertainment Industry Report, the Indian esports industry market size was 3 billion in fiscal year 2021 and is expected to reach 11 billion by FY2025. Arnold Su, Head of Business, Consumer PC and Gaming at Asus India, said, “Esports is a rapidly growing industry in India. There is a lot of excitement around this, but the right kind of infrastructure, formal recognition, academics and policies are challenges that remain. »

Another challenge gamers face is the lack of clarity on certain games, such as Arena of Valor (AOV) and PUBG Mobile, which have been banned in India as part of the government’s crackdown on Chinese apps and games. Both games are among the eight titles at the Asian Games.

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