Today is a great day for SA gaming. First, we had the news that Battlefield players are finally getting those local servers they campaigned for so long, and we're happy to share that the Overwatch Festival (hosted by ACGL) made SABC news. Not only did SABC Network talk about eSports, but they also shared valuable information about the importance of playing video games - something the general public should know more about.
Kudos to SABC Network presenter, Siphumelele Zondi, who managed to touch on a lot of current gaming topics in his three-minute talk.
- Virtual Reality gaming can be used for educational purposes.
- Gaming can be used to create product awareness.
- Gaming is a massive spectator sport.
Zondi's most important point, though, and something I've had to answer more times than I care to remember - Why do people play video games? The issue here is, of course, that the general public view gaming as something for teenagers, or nerds, or people that don't have anything better to do with their time.
Gaming & Education
As his first three points indicated, gaming is a much broader subject than something reserved for teenagers. For example, VR has opened a new world (literally) for education. If you've not yet experienced VR (not the cell phone kind, the real thing like the PSVR), then you won't be able to grasp the significance of my statement. Using gaming as a tool in education is something I'm very passionate about, and a topic we've discussed on GameZone before. In January last year, Pippa Tshabalala touched on VR and education in her piece "Can gaming rewire the way kids see the world?"
"Already there are people who are recreating historical sites digitally and using VR to engage and explore them. Is it really such a stretch to think that this is the future of education? More immersive tools to help engage students on multiple levels - to help them not just read about history, but engage and explore their subject matter in a way that not only interests them but is relevant to the way this generation thinks."
Earlier this week, I read a fascinating and troubling story by a remedial therapist about how the current education curriculum is harming children. I am not saying that gaming is the answer - but it can most definitely be a great tool because it taps into that desire for "play" while educating.
If you want to experience what the fuss is about, then visit the VR Arcade in Johannesburg. Perhaps the "rewiring" needs to start with teachers and parents.
Gaming & Advertising
Zondi also talked about how gaming can be used as a tool to create product awareness - we call it gamification - when gaming principles are used in a non-gaming product. It's a controversial subject, which we'll not discuss here - but I will say agree that it has benefits, just take the example SABC Network used.
According to Digitata Insights CEO, Richard Walton, "Games is a less intrusive way" for brands to advertise their products. "If people don't think that they're being marketed to, and they think that they're having fun while learning about a brand's products, they're more likely to engage." One of the controversies right there mate. Be that as it may, Walton reports that they recently ran a campaign for Mastercard using gamification - the gaming app had over 300 000 downloads.
Case in point.
Gaming & eSports
I am so proud that SABC Network used the Overwatch Festival as an example of why people play games because Overwatch! Besides the fact that's it's fun to hook up with friends, and the social benefits - it also rewards players with things like cash prizes and hardware products. As SABC Network reports, MTN held a tournament which, of course, promoted their product while also handing out R350 000 to the winner.
Last year, Telkom sponsored SA's first R1 million tournament, and this year they're raising the stakes to R1.5 million! If you take a look at our monthly gaming calendar, you'll see that a month doesn't go by where there are several social events, tournaments and most with prizes for participants. SA eSports still has a long way to go to draw the millions in cash prizes and spectators international events boast, but we're slowly but surely getting there.
Making national television is one of those steps and our sincere thanks to SABC Network for talking about SA gaming. Hopefully, it was the first of many! Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
You can check out the gaming segment on SABC Network in the video below. Please take note that the quality of the video isn't so good, but the content is worth watching none the less.
The Overwatch Festival is still going strongly with the second event (1v1 Mystery Duel) kicking off this Sunday. You can still enter for the 3rd event, see here for more details.
Cover image credits: ACGL / SABC Network Twitter
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