PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Thursday approved a proposal to launch e-sports initiative to support e-gamers of the province in developing and enhancing their skills.

According to officials, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, who also holds the portfolio of minister for sports and tourism department, has approved a summary moved by the relevant department.

Documents available with Dawn show that under the proposal, directorate general sports and directorate of youth affairs would collaborate to set up e-sports academies or revive at ‘Jawan Markaz’ across the province and sports stadiums.

The proposal says that e-sports have become a major industry globally as some of the top gamers around the world battle each other in a wide range of games and it is a huge spectator sport.

It said that the e-sports generated revenue of $143 billion in 2020 as compared to $104 billion in 2016. E-sports tournaments alone have witnessed exponential increases in revenue growth from $776.4 million in 2018 to $ 1.1 billion in 2020 and are likely to grow to $1.55 billion by 2023.

Academies will be set up to enhance skills of e-gamers

The document said that with imposition of restrictions on movement due to Covid-19, e-sports revenue growth was likely to further increase.

It said that the number of e-sports audience had grown from 395 million in 2018 to 495 million in 2020 with projection of growth to 646 million in year 2023. It added that audiences for just 10 of the games were 283 million

“Both individual and huge events are organised year-round with audience physically present in thousands and online for live streaming,” said the document.

It said that astronomical sums of money amounting to millions of dollars were awarded to contestants of e-sports tournaments while individual winners also earned millions of dollars. It added that a Pakistani identified as Sumail won an amount of $3.6 million in 2020 for his e-sporting activities.

The proposal said that it was amply evident that e-sports were there to stay and people of the province required government’s support to develop and enhance their skills in that sector, bringing laurels not only to them and country but also foreign exchange and income.

“This was one of the reasons that directorate of youth affairs invested in gaming and e-sports at its Jawan Marakaz which over a period of time could not be sustained,” it said. The sports department has undertaken extensive discussion and finalised the proposal with commitment that financial implications would be kept at zero or bare minimum.

The document proposed that e-sports academies would be set up on fee charging basis as fee of Rs1,000 per month was already approved for members while proper internet connectivity would be ensured at the academies.

It said that quite expensive computers / gaming was required these days; however, bare minimum equipment may be procured, but with effort to acquire this equipment through sponsorship from private sector.

The document proposed that besides national and provincial games hosted by sports department in routine, e-sports competitions might also be arranged with the same parameters and prizes.

It said as the government cannot hire teachers or resource persons for training due to absence of accreditation standards for teachers and mostly youngsters are learning from experience and YouTube videos, a dedicated webpage may be launched by department containing YouTube videos, other videos and learning material and give it wide publicity so that interested e-sports players can benefit from it.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2021

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