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Government should stop subsidising e-sports, it’s not real sport

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I love watching American Ninja Warrior, the smash hit television game show featuring near-impossible obstacle courses for contestants. There is also a version of it in Japan where the world’s reputedly most difficult course is located, reported South China Morning Post (Hong Kong).

It’s basically extreme sports porn, watching super-fit people perform at levels I would never achieve in a million years. So when one of its stars, in town as part of the Hong Kong Sevens, speaks, I prick up my ears. Other parents should too. Why are local kids playing little electronic characters on computer screens when they could be physically doing it themselves, asked Noah Kaufman?

“It’s so easy to get a watered-down version of action and adventure on your video console,” he said. “But when you have a real life ninja obstacle in front of you, it’s real and visceral. We want to show kids it’s way more fun if you use your own body.”

Exactly, that’s the difference between real sports and fake ones like e-sports. But our “me-too” government has bought into the hype, so much so that it handed over HK$35 million to organise the city’s first gaming festival in August last year. If the gaming industry wanted to promote its products to young people, why did it deserve a taxpayer subsidy? It’s because the Tourism Board and the government were foolish enough not only to pay for it, but also to help promote the propaganda that e-sports are real sports.

I am not fanatically against children playing computer games. But given a choice, I would prefer my own to go out and play real sports. And the government promoting gaming is at cross purposes with its other, more medically correct messages and campaigns to encourage people to exercise physically.

A survey conducted by Baptist University’s Centre for the Advancement of Social Sciences Research in 2016 found three out of four children under the age of 12 don’t have enough physical exercise. Another survey by the Hong Kong Stroke Fund last year found that more than half of secondary school pupils don’t have a proper diet under World Health Organisation guidelines.

E-sports are not just about playing computer games, but a youthful lifestyle. I think it’s fair to assume it doesn’t promote proper physical exercise and healthy eating for the vast majority of gamers.

If children want to play e-games and their parents let them, that’s fine. But it’s not the government’s business to promote and even subsidise it.

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An American video game that allows players to bomb Tiananmen Square has become the focal point of the latest Chinese crackdown on “harmful” material, according to a news website report, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong).

Although Call of Duty Black Ops II was first released in 2012, officials in the eastern province of Jiangxi singled it out in a recent crackdown that ordered internet cafes to stop their customers playing banned games.

A short sequence in the game’s alternative reality, in which a character recalls a fictional Second World War bombing raid in the heart of the Chinese capital, appears to have particularly angered the censors.

A long list of games were banned for being “harmful and deviating from socialist core values, traditional Chinese culture and moral norms”, provincial news portal jxnews.com.cn reported on Wednesday.

Another game that fell foul of the censors was a locally produced one, Red Alert 2: Glory of the Republic, which allows players to fight against the People’s Liberation Army.

Provincial authorities from the culture ministry visited 39 internet cafes in the province in the last week of March to make sure they were not offering banned games, the report added.

“These kind of games include hostile messages to our country, and must be completely banned,” the officials were quoted saying.

Over 5,000 internet cafes in the province have now installed a government surveillance system on their computers. Officials will be notified if users have been playing banned games in the cafes.

A message that warns users to install the surveillance system will appear on the computer screen from time to time if the internet cafes have not been updating or installing the system, according to the local officials.

“This is so annoying, there is a message that is always popping up,” one video game player in a Jiangxi internet cafe told the website.

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Tags: China, e-sport
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