Electronic games is set to shuck |the negative image of school-going children in cybercafes. The upcoming Zzap! E-Games Asia 2005 is a first step to turning Malaysia into a centre for the global US$28 billion industry, reports RIZAL JOHAN.
A balaclava-clad anti terrorist agent locks and loads his assault rifle and prepares to engage his enemies. A medieval soldier brandishes his sword as he meets the might of the Orcs in battle. A football player and his team-mates run out to the pitch in a make-or-break match.
Imagine all these different situations taking place under one roof. If you’re wondering what is going on, the answer lies with the upcoming Zzap! E-Games Asia 2005, which will be held at Limkokwing University College of Creative Technology (LUCT), Cyberjaya, on Aug 20 and 21.
The movers and shakers behind Zzap – Malaysia’s first foray at hosting a regional |e-games fest – are Malaysian Gamers Online (MyGo), the largest gaming community in Malaysia, in association with LUCT.
It promises to be a power-packed debut, with professional participants from Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and the Philippines. They face off, along with Malaysian pro gamers, in the 6 Nations Championship tournament.
Organisers are bullish that the gathering will raise awareness of the industry, and nudge the country on the path towards the goal of becoming a leading electronic gaming hub in South-East Asia.
“E-games has grown in popularity all over the world and it has become more than just a subculture,’’ said MyGo president Riz Bador.“It is an important subculture sport, just like how the X-Games was in the 1980s, and we cannot ignore it anymore,” said Riz.
The figures speak for themselves. Worldwide, it is a US$28 billion industry. And it is time Malaysia has a slice of that pie.
“I think it (e-games industry) makes more money than the Hollywood film industry,” said LUCT president Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing, who was invited by MyGo to be the patron of the E-Games and also to steer the direction of the local games industry.
There’s more to the industry, though, than just profits for the money men.
Lim points out that developing the homegrown industry will also pave the way for career and educational prospects.
“Job growth in the games industry is very fast,’’ he said. “It all depends on the creative individual who is prepared to make use of this knowledge.”
Lim believes that electronic games “sharpens the mind” of the young people. “Kids tend to think quickly when playing, their reflexes improve and they are more analytical.”
The biggest stumbling block for e-games promoters is the negative perception that parents usually have.
As the games are played in cybercafes, it is often associated as an unhealthy pastime that promotes truancy among school children.Many parents are also concerned that the pursuit has turned into an avenue for gambling and betting for youths.
“The negative perception stems from a lack of understanding among the public and authorities,’’ said Lim.
One way to mend the poor image is to re-classify e-games. Recognise it as a sport, not a past-time.
A re-branding exercise could also help; instead of cybercafes, call them e-game centres.
Whatever the approach, only time will show the impact such suggestions will have on the minds of the public.
MyGo and LUCT, however, have time on their side. They intend the E-Games to be a yearly event and once the tournament becomes more popular and established, they will work towards turning Cyberjaya into a games development hub for the region.
“We want to return Cyberjaya to what it was originally intended for – a hub for multi-media and content like Silicon Valley. We hope, with E-Games and by empowering the games industry, that this will happen,” said Riz.
|ZZAP! GOINGS-ON |
BESIDES the 6 Nations Championship, non-professionals can compete in the Piala E-Sukan 2005. Beat challengers in games such as Counter Strike, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, Winning Eight and Defence of the Ancients.
The festival will also include business forums, workshops and talks, from Aug 15 to 17 at LUCT, on the electronic gaming industry by local and international games and content developers.
For more information on Zzap! E-Games Asia 2005, you can contact MyGo at 03- 6203 3805 or you can visit the website at www.egamesasia.com For those who are interested in taking part in the Piala E-Sukan, you can register online at www.egamesasia.comor at LUCT. The registration fee is RM30.