THE PERSISTING global health crisis has forced people to alter their daily routines, stay at home, and use gadgets for hours on end, putting physical sports on hiatus and in turn making video-based gaming communities thrive.
In the University of Santo Tomas, a collegiate eSports organization called Teletigers joined big leagues for video gaming competitions since the onset of the pandemic.
With big athletic leagues opening their doors to video gaming events, some sports and gaming enthusiasts think it’s about time that eSports be included in the future seasons of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
Reil Espino, chairman of the sports science department of the College of Rehabilitation Science, noted that the Southeast Asian Games and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have already started their own eSporting events.
“Actually it (including eGames) is a good consideration for the UAAP if (it wants) to keep up with the current trends in terms of the changes in sporting events,” Espino said.
Including eSports in UAAP events, he added, could boost advertising revenues and cultivate a good reputation for the university.
“If you are performing well (in eGames) just like in other sports played in the UAAP, it gives a good reputation not only to the sports program but also to how the culture of sports is being nourished in an institution,” Espino said, adding that winning an eGames championship would give a school a good publicity.
Espino believes student-athletes who are part of the eSports team should be compensated and should receive the benefits given to players of other sporting events.
Scholarships, however, should only be given to eGamers if the event becomes an official UAAP sport
Hannah Carpio, chief creative director of the Thomasian Gaming Society, said the university should have a dedicated and high-end gaming facility to support those who want to become professional eGamers.
Teletigers eSports Club Vice President Trisha Kyle Viñas ehoed this view, saying a gaming facility can help teams monitor their members.
“People can play and work better if they know who they are working with. We can easily adjust our statements and approach if we can see the person’s body language,” Viñas said.
Just a recreational activity?
Journalism freshman and gamer Miguel Angelo Sumalinog said some people undermine eSports because of the notion that a sport involves physical effort.
“They usually undermine this since they do not see the value of eSports as something that can be done competitively on the levels of a high tier sport league even though there are multiple tournaments from different games proving otherwise,” he added.
Carpio said eSports is a sport since its players undergo trainings. But she acknowledged that the changes in the games are among the reasons why some do not recognize it as a sport.
“Every update of the game, the meta changes. If there is a new champion, the meta changes. If there is a new map, the meta changes, and there is like so much change,” Carpio said, referring to the overall guide on how multiplayer e-games are played.
Thomasians Gaming Society Vice President Nhel Gonzales said eGaming is a sport since it involves the crafting of plays and strategies.
“In eSports, we also condition something and that is muscle memory, we also warm up and think of strategies, it is not just simply playing,” Gonzales said.
Carpio argued that eSports is similar to other sports since it also involves technical and mechanical skills.
“You can’t be playing the same game you played for the past season. When you are battling with another team, it’s like basketball [where] you do replays of their game and we also do the same thing. We watch their buds, we study their strategies and make counter strategies, so it is very similar to real sports,” she added.
While pandemic restrictions have prevented Thomasian eGamers from carrying out their plans for the team, efforts are underway to improve their skills and strategies.
“The communication between staff members was fine but I know we still lacked interaction that prompted others to quit. The players also find it hard to develop team chemistry since they always opt to play with players who are also their friends,” Viñas said.
Carpio said university administration should realize that eSports is not just about insults and taunting.
“Once the University administration realized that esports is not always about violence and (negative aspects) they would get to see the community that we have in esports, the camaraderie, the fun, and the improvement of the teams as the tournament progresses,” Carpio said
For Espino, there has to be an acceptance from the institution before the university’s Esports team can improve.
“They have to be open minded as well with regard to the proposal of these gamers,” he said. – Hannah Beatrisse Oledan and Marco Luis Beech