Is E-sports a viable career option in India?

By Gourav Dey


Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash


What is E-sports?


As the name suggests, E-sports is the platform where competitors from different parts of the world come along to form a team or play as individuals in the largest event the world has witnessed in the gaming industry. These gamers are watched and followed by millions of fans all over the world. Streaming services allow viewers to watch as their favorite gamers play in real-time, and this is typically where popular gamers build up their fan base.

The once singular gaming event of 1972, Space Invaders Championship. That yielded no more than 10,000 participants. Now, with the inclusion of Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and League of Legends, E-sports has become an alternative career option for many hardcore gamers out there.


Current Scenario of E-sports in India


Unfortunately, when it comes to E-sports in India, the growth is not as exponentially high as in comparison to a country like South Korea. Although the existence of E-sports has been widely unorganized and undocumented, there have been occasions where India has been represented in an E-sports event. The lack of mainstream media coverage has hidden the latent potential of Gaming as a career. The latest edition of such representation was made by Tirth Mehta from Gujarat who won the first-ever E-sports Medal for India at Asian Games 2018. As of now, the soon-to-be billion-dollar industry depicts professional gaming, not as a legitimate profession.


Even though gaming as a career can be challenging for most. To be forthright, being a game developer is fine in an average household, but often, playing is not. It is not surprising for a country, which had little to gaming by way of infrastructure. It was Akshat Rathee, Director and CEO of Nodwin Gaming who brought in the revolution by introducing the Electronic Sports League to the Indian Market. Mr. Rathee and his team have made landmarks for E-sports in India. They have brought the Electronic Sports League (ESL) to India. It is going to have offline challenger events, finally culminating at a large-scale event in various parts of the country.


E-sports are not as casual as most of the population considers, the misconception of gaming being a stroll in the park is gradually eradicating itself as more and more individuals rise as gamers representing India at World Championship Events. However, it took a long time for the country to accept the fact that there is a concept of E-sports along with conventional sporting events. The recent interest of stakeholders in Gaming Events of India has also seen an upsurge in the last decade, Acer and Reliance are heavy investors in E-sports India and the trend shows a significant rise in the stakeholders in the given market.


The Limitations of E-sports in India


For many years, the lack of infrastructure and the correct amount of exposure to the industry was stagnant. It is only in recent times; mainly after the introduction of the mobile variant of PlayerUnknown's Battleground, the masses got exposure to E-sports Culture.

This, in any way, does not indicate the lack of integrity and dedication of the Gaming Culture that was already present in India. However, the mobile gaming faction made a breakthrough in the Indian E-sports Hub mainly due to the availability of Smartphones at an affordable price backed up with Reliance Jio's reintroduction to the usage of the Internet. It was only after the advent of technological development that the humongous population of India got the proper exposure to E-sports.


However, the issue with modern Gaming is that people often get mesmerized by the glamour and forget the fact that expertise comes with practice and hard work. Repeatedly the question of comparison between the income of an overseas player and that of our players are raised. Akshat Rathee answered with the explanation that gamers overseas are substantially better, and the fact that we aren't paid as much as those abroad has nothing to do with the community not being as involved as the international ones. "Mastery, if anything, is a 10,000-hour approach. I don't think there's a single gamer in our country who has spent that much time (playing games)."


Though it is unfair that even though the Country possesses immense talent and there will always be one or two Counter-Strike or DOTA 2 players in almost every school there is, but not a single institution to help them in their growth, most of these talents are lost in their normal phases of life.

There are rarely any E-sports Training Academies in India right now. Games like PUBG PC got little to no limelight even when it was launched way before the mobile version. Considering the fact that India is a developing country, major PC/Console Games are expensive and one needs to have substantial resources to build/buy them.


Conclusion


The idea is to achieve Mastery and not to dream about the captivating outcome. Nothing is unattainable, but "In order to succeed, the desire for success should be greater than the fear of Failure"- Bill Cosby.

Domestic startups such as Nazara, JetSynthesys, and NODWIN Gaming have brought India the opportunity to grow in Esports and help Gamers to realize the potential that can bring them closer to their lifelong dream of becoming the next Shroud or Ninja (Streamer) of India.