Prospect of growth for eSports In Pakistan
We recently published a piece on how eSports and gaming is on the rise in India and what Pakistani companies and business sector can learn from it. Staying true to the ultimate objective of a full-fledged eSports industry in Pakistan, this article will highlight a few key people/organisations who are working towards establishing an eSports industry somewhat trying to resemble their counterparts in Western countries.
First lets talk about the many gaming cafes and lounges spread throughout the country. Without trying to emphasize on any specific spot, lounges like Eclectic Vibrations in Lahore and Iron Gaming Café in Islamabad are giving heaps of benefits to the developing industry. They regularly hold quality tournaments and promote events reasonably. Some work is also being done by Pak Gamer Republic organisers. Then we should also mention all the universities and colleges conducting mini tourneys in their Olympiads and other events. These might not contribute that much yet, but in a sense they expose our general public to gaming in general, and hopeful local gamers to the competitive nature of eSports. We have to mention that with most of these events, there is something left to be desired in terms of providing fair and quality events.
Third mention goes out to all the gamers who have established themselves as pros. Most notably, Sumail. This guy is a legit prodigy, earning in excess of $1 million through tournaments won playing with Evil Geniuses. Alas, none of it came while he was in Pakistan. Second guy worthy of a mention is Saqib Mirza, aka MicroNukeX. He’s the CEO of Infinity Arcade, a gaming lounge, along with being the MD of DigiTech, a gadgets shop. Both his ventures are in Pindi. He holds the world record for continuous 207 wins in Super Street Fighter 4 on XBL. Furthermore, the efforts of miscellaneous Call of Duty Clans are really appreciable as well. Some of them conduct these little tournaments online, and although this might not be that big a development, it is one nonetheless. Special shout out goes to the W4R clan and their leader Mustafa Usmani for hosting these tournaments once every few months.
There might be some more contributors as well, apologies to all unmentioned parties and a huge thumbs up as well! All of you are going to be the reason one day our fathers proudly say “Mera beta azeem player hai” *wink*.
With existing parties given credits to, here are a few suggestions as to what we can do to further cement the possibility of having an eSports industry in Pakistan:
To begin with, our government needs to step up. New, knowledgeable and capable people in government should take some charge and drive this industry forward. It sounds optimistic and it will be a challenge, but its not entirely impossible. It’s high time they take the gaming and eSports industry seriously. Most western governments acknowledge gamers as technically athletes now, due to the hours they train and skill they showcase, we need to do the same.
Another important thing worth mentioning is the arrangement of conventions and events. When software freelancers in Pakistan can get conventions, skillful gamers can, and should as well. Although this can be termed as unfair comparison, but considering both industries depend on people in front of the screen, it should be scrutinized. Now I know what most of you might be thinking, “software industry is a full fledged and recognised business industry”, but now so is eSports (outside of Pakistan). According to my observation and after conducting a mini-survey, 6 out of 10 enthusiastic Pakistani gamers play for more than 4 hours on average on their computers each day. Keeping this, relatively reasonable, statistic in mind, the Govt. should try to exploit this interest into a profession for players. Unfortunately, currently they dont seem to care, and this attitude has to change.
Second comes our own mentality. Ask gamers and they themselves do not consider the possibilities of becoming a full time player. Most of people play to spend free time and entertainment, but those who want to go further don’t have any vision or realistic possibility and thus the thought of adopting gaming as a profession never occurs to them. On the other hand, families discourage taking up gaming as a job as well. Again, due to very limited opportunities and also the stigma attached to the word gaming. Unfortunately some people do get to hear , “what will we say when people ask us what does your son/daughter do?”
Third comes financial support. Which is hardly available. In a perfect world, you could form a team of 6 of the best Counter Strike/DOTA 2 players in the country and then look for sponsors to finance your entry into an international tournament. Hopefully, if you get somewhere decent you can get to a point where you can consider living off gaming. Time for a reality check though, this isn’t happening due to lack of sponsors and financial support required for such an endeavour. And for that to change, the mentality of companies and individuals to change.
What are your thoughts about this? Enlighten us with your opinions in the comment section below!