If you want to know if esports are popular, all you need to do is look at the hours watched on Twitch – or the tournament prize pools that esports events regularly pay out. Of course, they’re popular… but if you’re wanting to know exactly how popular, you might need to look a little more closely. Given that a number of mainstream news channels still fail to mention anything esports and some even still push the long-debunked ‘video games cause violence’ angle, you may have missed how widespread support for esports really is.
Well, Beijing university did look a little closer. “Esports is a major global development trend in electronic technology, sports, and entertainment industries, and the public, in general, holds a positive attitude towards its development,” said the associate dean of development of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chung Pak-Kwong, that led the research into the subject.
The results of the survey
They just published the results of a survey about how the population of Hong Kong feels about esports. They found that of the 3600+ people they spoke to (all of them age 15 or over), 72% supported the development of more local esports facilities and options.
69% of them went even further and said that they think the local government should help fund such developments, as a form of infrastructure investment that also boosts the resources that are available in esports. “The government should seize the opportunity to formulate a policy for the development of esports in Hong Kong, and deploy more resources to the upgrading of hardware as well as encouraging educational institutions to offer academic programs related to the industry to cultivate esports professionals,” associate dean Chung said, pointing out that a surprisingly high number of people – 69% of secondary ed and 63% of university student esport participants’ parents actually support their children’s interest in and engagement with esports.
To esport or not to esport
In quite a lot of Western regions, including the US, that number is still a fair bit lower – but both in Asia and the West, it increases the younger the people asked get, as younger generations have a far more positive outlook on esports as a hobby and career than many older generations do – they were still raised on the idea of ‘video games = violence’ and often have no personal interest or connection to it either.
In another question on the survey, 28% of the people who answered said they were unaware that esports had debuted at the 2018 Asian Games – an Olympic event. That’s a surprisingly high number given that the Asian Games are hugely popular in the region and, more importantly, that year, a Hong Kong player won a gold medal in the demonstration event there.
Lo Tsz-kin won a gold medal in the Hearthstone competition there. Strangely enough an even smaller percentage – 19% didn’t know that he was set to be an official at the 2022 Asian Games that will be taking place in Hangzhou, China, next year in September.