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HKBU Survey Finds Massive Support for E-sports in Hong Kong

Image Credits: HKBU, Press Release

A survey conducted by Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has found that more than 70% of respondents support the development of electronic sports (Esports) in Hong Kong. However, the general public’s understanding of the development of Esports has yet to be enhanced.

Esports embodies elements of team sports with the results determined by personal skill, teamwork and tactics. It also carries the nature of other spectator sports. These features are similar to traditional sports and make Esports different from video games.

Over 70% of respondents support the development of Esports

A research team led by Professor Chung Pak-kwong, Associate Dean (Development) of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Professor of the Department of Sport, Physical Education and Health at HKBU, conducted a telephone survey with about 1,500 respondents aged 15 or above from April to December 2020 to understand the public’s opinions on the development of Esports in Hong Kong.

A questionnaire survey was also conducted with 2,100 tertiary and secondary school students to understand the nature of their participation in Esports. The study was funded by the Policy Research Funding Schemes of the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office.

Among the 1,500 telephone survey respondents, 72% of them said that they support the development of Esports in Hong Kong, and 69% of them believe that the government should subsidise the development of Esports, showing that a majority of the public support the development of Hong Kong’s Esports industry and the investment of more public resources into it.

Nearly 30% of respondents did not realise that Esports featured in the Asian Games

However, the survey showed that 28% of respondents did not realise that Esports was included as one of the Demonstration Sports in the 2018 Asian Games, and 19% of them had no knowledge of the fact that it will become an official competition event in the Asian Games in 2022, showing that public awareness of Esports has yet to be enhanced.

In addition, the survey results showed that almost half (49%) of the respondents considered Esports to be the same as video games. Meanwhile, about 54% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the view that Esports is a genuine sporting event, and 49% of respondents did not agree with the statement that Esports should be an official competition event in the Asian Games, showing that the general public lacks an understanding of the nature of Esports.

Insufficient infrastructure and support for Esports

Among the approximately 2,100 tertiary and secondary school students who responded to the questionnaire, 104 of them (about 5%) had previously taken part in Esports competitions. The questionnaire listed 19 consideration factors for participation in Esports competitions. Respondents who had participated in Esports think that “a sense of accomplishment”, “demonstrating one’s ability”, “a lack of Esports resources” and “the grim prospects of the Esports industry in Hong Kong” are significant factors that affect their decision on whether they should participate in Esports competitions or not.

Respondents who had not previously participated in Esports think that “a lack of Esports skills, “an absence of policies for developing the Esports industry”, “worries about the impact of Esports on academic results” and “time management” made them reluctant to participate in Esports.

Over 60% of Esports participants supported by parents

It is worth noting that 69% of the secondary and 63% of the tertiary school students who have participated in Esports are supported by their parents. Moreover, 63% of the secondary and 79% of the tertiary school students have informed their parents of their participation in Esports. In contrast to the commonly-held belief that parents have reservations about their children’s involvement in Esports, the survey showed that a majority of the tertiary and secondary school students who have participated in Esports actually have their parents’ support and that they continue to communicate with them.

The survey also found that only 23% of the secondary and 18% of the tertiary school students who had previously taken part in Esports competitions felt upset about being unable to participate in further Esports competitions, showing that addiction to Esports is not common among them.

Esports is a major global development trend in the electronic technology, sports and entertainment industries, and the public, in general, hold a positive attitude towards its development, according to Professor Chung Pak-kwong. He feels that 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 programmes related to the industry to cultivate Esports professionals.

On the nurturing of elite Esports athletes, the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong should review the governance structure and long-term development direction of the Esports Association Hong Kong and consider its statutory roles, including organising the preparation and participation of the Hong Kong Esports team in the Hangzhou Asian Games next year.

The government should also formulate subsidy schemes for training and competitions as well as a retirement protection plan for professional athletes, so that young people will be confident in devoting themselves to the Esports industry, he added.

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