Grassroots esports support: Lessons to learn from Sweden & other countries
News - 6 Dec 2016
Competitive gaming at an amateur level obviously doesn't have the same level of support as professional scene, but things are improving. We take a look at what organisations are doing around the world to promote grassroots esports and what we can learn from them.
Sweden has done a lot of impressive work in esports so far.
The leaflet also includes advice on how organisations and individuals can take action to create and strengthen attitudes and behaviour that promotes inclusion, and an open and welcoming environment.
Alexander Hallberg from Sverok explains the methods behind the code of conduct, and how conducting interviews, focus groups and a survey was key.
"The code was part of a bigger project where we created spaces for esports training and eight youth camps, which were like football training camps," he said.
"First we selected important people, groups and organisations to be a part of the development of the code. Since it's supposed to be used by the whole community we felt that we needed to include the 'movers and shakers' of Swedish esports. This included Fnatic, NIP, Dreamhack, Fragbite and lots more. I think we ended up with around 50.
"We then performed deep interviews with them, what they identified as problematic and what could be done, what kind of language they could get behind and such. That formed the basis for code of conduct v0.1.
"CoCv0.1 was then sent to three focus groups with around five to nine people in each, with primarily people from the grassroots (our own associations). It is important for the process that you meet eye to eye and really make people invest their thought and emotions in the code.
"That feedback led to the creation of version 0.5 which was then sent out in a shorter survey to all of the people in the project. That last input resulted in the final code of conduct."
Also, last year, a Swedish school added esports to its curriculum. Several students are able to study Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at Arlandagymnasiet in Sigtuna, Sweden .
There are also boot camps for youngsters, run by Area08, which let kids play esports against some professional gamers including those from Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Sweden has also produced some of the top Counter-Strike players in the world, and has also been a strong advocate for diversity, with several female pro gamers emerging from the country.
It's no secret that South Korea has produced some of the world's best esports players over the years, playing the likes of StarCraft II to League of Legends, Dota 2 and other games.
The government-backed Korean E-Sports Association was formed back in 2000 to promote and manage esports.
Esports games have been broadcast on TV in South Korea for a while now, much longer than the West. There are fast internet speeds and internet/gaming cafes are the norm in the region. This means many pro players start at a very young age.
This rise in esports popularity soon attracted more corporate sponsors and higher revenues, and paved the way for a greater number of professional players and teams.
It could be argued that the culture also has a part to play in Korea's esports dominance. Esports pros are household names - and they take their jobs seriously. The focus on practicing, improving - and winning - has meant Korea has become one of the leading regions for esports.
Esports has enjoyed enormous growth in the US in recent years, with the standard of players improving, many non-endemic brands signing up as sponsors, and investors buying up teams.
Traditional sports teams, bosses and entrepreneurs like former basketball pro Shaquille O'Neal and basketball team The Philadelphia 76ers have moved into esports over the past few years.
At a more grassroots level, the collegiate esports scene in the US is also popular - and growing. Check out more information in this interview with Tyler Schrodt, founder of the Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF), a collegiate esports incubator in the US.
For example, there are collegiate League of Legends tournaments. And the University of California, Irvine, has opened a 3,500sq ft esports arena, as well as offering students competitive gaming scholarships.
The universities are big, the events are big and the sponsors are getting behind esports in a bigger way.
Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA)is the national controlling body formind sportsin the region, including the likes of draughts, backgammon and speed stacking.
It has branched out to include esports in recent years, and has a thorough code of conduct for players and organisers to adhere to.
The body organises several esports tournaments, and by having awarded National Colours, the MSSA says it's taken a positive step in 'enabling the human potential of South Africans'.
Through the MSSA's policy of starting clubs at schools and universities, the MSSA has also been able to assist financially disadvantaged players to study further, and to promote a culture of learning among its players.
The University of British Columbia opened an esports space in 2016, featuring $100,000 of gaming equipment.
The university invested in its UBC Esports Association gaming club, which boasts some 800 members.
Almost 50 of the club's members compete at a high level, including winning the League of Legends Campus series and first place at the Hearthstone and Dota 2 Collegiate Starleague.
UBC students have won more than $500,000 from esports tournaments so far.
Are you from another region and have an esports initiative we should be aware of? Please email us at email@example.com and we can look to add you to this article.