Winter time. Heavy snow should have already been on all of the hills around. Rain was falling all night, tapping on improvised canopy above me. Everything is damp. Rain is drizzling from above and from below, the steam is rising up. Black bark of trees is in contrast to white mist. Every now and then some of the old branches gives in to the time and knocks on to the ground. Starting a new phase of its existence. Dawn is short and inevitable. The world is driven by desire and the same world is a small place. A new day, a new beginning and a new opportunity.
While we in technology do understand the value of gaming and eSports, that largely stayed outside of mainstream acceptance. China, with its 528 million registered gamers and more than half that number compromise of PC gamers just made eSports one of 13 new majors that can be taught at colleges. In the fall of 2017, The Hunan Sports Vocational College will offer eSports class for the first 40 students. Law and English lessons, data analysis, tactics design, sports management and brokering will all be made available to students.
Such development is not a surprise. Back in 2011, eSports was officially approved as China’s 78th official sports discipline, giving video gaming the same status as ping pong or weight lifting. However, path to adoption was not as smooth in the beginning. Just a decade ago, parents were paying about $800 a month so their children would be subjected to electrically induced seizures to provide relief from psychiatric illnesses. That “illness” was called Internet addiction. The official figure is quoted as 3,000 children. Yang Yongxin, clinical psychiatrist who advocated and practiced electroshock therapy claimed that 96% of the patients treated by his electric therapy had shown improvement. His practice was banned by the Chinese Ministry of Health in 2009.
Sadly for eSports, a negative development happened in South Korea, which is embattled with corruption scandals in the office of the President. The very first team-based eSports league and one of the biggest gaming hot spots ever, Starcraft ProLeague was officially abolished after 14 years of existence. Problems with dubious sponsorships and match-fixing became too of a heavy burden. Pro gaming teams that train or play up to 18 hours a day tuck the mouse and tap the keyboard. Question whether the gaming is sport is debatable but meantime, money certainly needs to make wonders.
ESports degree is not the only one, as China is evaluating putting a VR (Virtual Reality), or Mixed Realities degree into schools as well. One thing is certain, the plan is set. China is now again in the pole position.