"Traditional sports are emulating the innovation of e-sports."
Chong Geng analyzes the development and future of Esports and the support they are giving from GEF for their expansion and the social commitment they have assumed. The Federation promotes a universal set of values to build a better #worldconnected for all.
How did you come up with the idea for The Global Esports Federation?
The GEF was founded in December 2019 on the principle of guiding the esports community through "the values of sport and the principle of harnessing technology and innovation forever." We wanted to convene a movement that was not just for esports players and their business aspects, but created a global framework that was inclusive; advocate for diversity, gender, age and even help economies build proper esports infrastructures with our partners and member federations. We call this #worldconnected; our vision of a better world through esports.
The GEF was founded almost 2 years ago in December 2019. What do you think about its progress in the last two years?
The world was hit by the pandemic crisis immediately after the launch of the GEF and unfortunately we were unable to launch our flagship events; the Global Esports Games and GEFest; last year. However, games and esports really took off on a global scale, generating greater awareness of the organization and highlighting the need for better education in esports (such as the need to exercise and take care of mental health). The growing importance and influence of esports and games also meant that there is now an opportunity to use them as an amplifier for social good. All of this helped accelerate the organization's efforts and increase awareness of the organization. We have also had a lot of support from partners and member federations that have joined. In fact, we just hit the 100 member association mark last month in a relatively short period of time.
The Federation is committed to providing and integrating a service platform for its member associations to assist them in their growth and development. Could you tell us what it consists of?
It is difficult for us to prescribe the type of assistance and consultancy we provide to our member associations, as their individual needs and goals may be very different. For some member federations, it could be a question of transitioning or bringing their sport closer to the world of virtual sports or active electronic sports. For others, it could be helping them expand their event or product efforts through our network to increase awareness and participation. At the other end of the scale, we could be consulting and helping federations at the country level to establish an infrastructure to grow and promote esports in their countries.
The Global Esports Federation announced the staging of the #worldconnected 2021 (# wcs21) series, followed by the successful inaugural edition in December 2020. Could you tell us more about it?
The first Global Esports Games will take place in Singapore on December 17th and we are very proud and excited that they are finally taking off. The Games will move to Istanbul in 2022 and Riyadh in 2023. We can expect to see the world's top DOTA 2, Street Fighter 5 and eFootball PES 2021 players fighting in Singapore. The participation of more than 250 athletes from more than 50 countries is expected. What really excites us is that these elite esports athletes will be playing for the pride of the country and not for prize money. It will also be interesting to see how countries support their participating athletes.
The audience is mostly young, do you think it is possible to bring adults closer to eSports?
Definitely. Once again, the pandemic has forced many sports to turn to new ways of engaging with fans, as well as ways to keep their sports season going. Let's take the NBA as an example, the NBA 2K league has been very successful and has had a significant trajectory during the period when the games could not be played live. Viewers are basketball fans of different age groups and demographics. NBA fans now enjoy watching the seasons live and virtual. Double basketball, double joy. This is a model that many other popular sports are seriously looking to emulate.
Sport means a lot to young people around the world, being a very popular option for them to enjoy their free time. Brands already know this and have started sponsoring professional players, tournaments and teams because they go where traditional consumer offerings cannot. It also represents a responsibility for the development of future generations and an opportunity to transmit values, doesn't it? What values and opportunities does the Federation promote for young people?
The Federation promotes a universal set of values to build a better #worldconnected for everyone, not just young people. Equality, fair play, diversity, inclusion and innovation must be fostered and applied to everyone, everyone. We sincerely believe that everyone can enjoy e-sports and games. One of the most successful esports players, Abbe Borg (aka DieHard Birdie) is also one of the oldest in the world at 79 years old. This is in direct contradiction to the common perception that esports is only for young people.
We have youth-ready programs, such as the Global Esports Future Leaders program, which is an internship program designed to give youth a glimpse into the world of esports. One of our board members, Dr. Melita Moore, is incredibly passionate about esports education and promoting optimal mental and physical health among gamers. She is currently working on a series of programs and initiatives that she will promote through the Education, Culture and Welfare Commission of which she is also president.