Following the grandiose news about esports becoming an accepted profession in China (which we all know has been and is strict towards gaming), more sunshine-infused news has come crashing from the sky.
All evidence points to the Chinese change of stance regarding esports and the people involved with it. You could say that some of this news isn’t huge, but in actuality, it is. Just over half a year ago, some esports game titles were outright banned in China for a variety of reasons: “disharmonious chat,” female nudity or too much skin showing, the incident surrounding Graves’ (a League of Legends champion) cigar being removed from his splash art, and many others.
No one could have thought China would actually start supporting esports, let alone allowing and considering it as a profession. However, life is a circle; so, it seems, is esports in China.
Let’s take a peek into what changed this week and why this news is so big for the gaming industry and communities in China.
Esports Athletes Given Athlete Certificates
There’s still a certain stigma surrounding esports gamers all around the world. Older generations see them as lazy teenagers that should find a real job (if earning thousands and thousands of dollars yearly and sometimes even monthly isn’t good enough to be considered a real job, then we don’t know what is).
There’s also the argument that they’re not really athletes, per se. Sitting around and staring at a computer screen doesn’t really need athleticism and physicality — this is true, yes — but it’s still a competitive sport. Players use their skills, reactions, team play, and communication, and there’s a captain/shot caller, as well as sponsored teams (BMW, for example). All of these traits are present in regular sports as well.
But China has actually taken a massive step forward in this regard by giving some professional esports gamers athlete status. The team (and players) in question is Newbee Esports Club.
This change has been brewing for months now; starting in November 2018, the Shanghai Esports Association began preparations to help develop and regulate the local esports industry. Some requirements had to have been met for teams and their players to be given official athlete certificates, basically allowing them to compete in international and national events under Shanghai.
This has allowed Chinese players to express themselves more freely and be widely regarded as true athletes. The era of real esports in China has begun.
Even those who aren’t yet athlete-certified have something to look forward to — complete the requirements, and their career might just skyrocket further than ever before imagined. And Newbee Esports Club is one of the first athlete-certified esports teams in the world.
But wait, there’s even more news related to esports in China!
Esports Players and Esports Operators
Alongside other new officially recognized professions such as drone pilot, AI technician, Internet of Things (IoT) engineering technician (uhh… what?), esports players and operators are now fully-fledged jobs that China recognizes!
Why is this such a big deal? Well, China has been seeing gaming and esports as activities leading to addiction and worsened eyesight for quite some time now. Couple this with their new social system (getting/losing score depending on how “good” of a citizen you are), and the world feared esports would die out in China.
But money is a very, very powerful thing. The Chinese Esports Industry has been reported to be worth $13.8B in 2018, an impressive 18% increase over 2017. China is also a gargantuan country, being home to more than 1.3 billion people (400 million of whom are gamers).
And, considering their ever-increasing economy, the Chinese government saw an opportunity here. Why not give gamers real jobs and consider them athletes? It’s better than slamming them for a variety of things and watching them ignore all of these warnings.
Hence, the “understanding” of esports in China has changed — for the better, might I add.
But this transition didn’t get finalized without a small hiccup.
Esports Professionals as Account Boosters?
The official document confirming these two new professions used to contain a Chinese term similar in meaning to “account boosting.” Specifically, it stated that esports professionals do just that — boost accounts.
But since this is a major deal in professional esports where account boosting is strictly forbidden and frowned upon (and can cause players to be banned outright if found guilty!), the Chinese esports community reacted with negative responses.
Thus, the CMHRSS (China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security) decided to replace the incorrect term with “acting professional esports training program.”
At least it’s more precise this time.
Wrapping Things Up
Esports has evolved with blistering pace over the years, and almost all of the world has accepted it in one way or another. Esports tournaments with millions of dollars in prize pool money are common nowadays, and players are treated like celebrities (they earn almost as much as celebrities in some games, too).
While China was busy figuring out their opinion of esports and making some questionable decisions, the rest of the world was building new esports arenas, creating new teams, and bringing in rich sponsors.
And so China saw that their idea of esports is drastically different than what it actually is: not an addiction-causing terrifying monster, but a way of life and work for many young adults and teenagers.
This week has been nothing but positive for esports in China, and we can only hope that they continue this trend. After all, it provides so much opportunity and success to those who are brave and bold to risk it for a million-dollar biscuit.