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Why The Real Future of Esports is In the Hands of Kids Today

I have joined Forest Interactive two months ago to spearhead the company’s journey into esports.

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Don’t get me wrong, Forest Interactive has always been present in the world of esports in Malaysia and in the world by being part of key events like the Kuala Lumpur Major, ESGS, and other events that involve tech and gaming.

However, in order really champion esports in today’s world, we are approaching it in a holistic way.

It is not enough to just be a part of the competitive gaming side of esports; there is a whole habitat that exists to make those happen. The gaming side of things is the result of different units working together to give people that experience. Esports is not just comprised of the gamers and the games; it’s made up of game developers and publishers, tech companies who constantly improve their products, event organizers who bring them all together, etc. A holistic approach to esports is what the industry needs to make it sustainable and beneficial to everyone involved.

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We have to look at esports in the long term; by making it innovative to keep up with the developments in tech, by making it sustainable not just by educating the youth about healthier gaming, and also by equipping the youth with the skills and knowledge needed to keep the different facets of esports alive.

Esports as we know it today won’t be the same in five years, ten years. It will continuously develop. But equipping the youth early with the basic understanding of how things work, and a curious mind will help shape the world of esports better.

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Which is why Forest Interactive is in its third year of working with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) in bringing LEVEL UP @ SCHOOLS in every state of Malaysia. Kids as young as 7 years old are chosen by their school yearly to take part in a two-day session wherein they learn how to make a game from scratch. It is an immersive, hands-on event wherein they get to understand how things work from a practical perspective.

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I have always loved being around kids and sharing them my experiences. The first time I heard of this activity, I didn’t waste any time and immediately signed up for it. I was nervous at first, that my being new to Malaysia will be a challenge. Bear in mind that the kids we are teaching are far from Kuala Lumpur, so there might be a language barrier between the kids and I. In the Philippines, I wasn’t worried of being sent out far from the city as I can converse with them in Tagalog. But this is a different country. I was a stranger in a new land.

But that worry was nothing more than just overthinking. On the first day, we got to introduce ourselves one by one. I started off by asking them, “Who plays Mobile Legends, PUBG?” and immediately hands shot up with smiles on their faces. This relieved me. No matter where you go, esports is alive even if it’s just starting to creep up in the most far-flung of places. We were in Universiti Malaysia Pahang – Perak, a clear 5 hours away from Kuala Lumpur. I got to learn that one of the schools who participated this year didn’t even have a working PC in their school.

 

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Which is why giving these kids an early opportunity to learn and experience is a gift that we must give to the future of esports.

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Each day we started with an introduction of who we were and what we do. On the first day, the kids got to learn about Forest Interactive. On the second day, they got to learn about Rizal Amir, our head of Technology Development and what their team does. It is necessary for them to know how the pieces work together, so that they have a better understanding and a sense of curiosity when they do decide to get into tech and esports. Having someone real to inspire them and tell them that this is a reality that they can achieve is one of the things in life that not many are given. This is an opportunity for us to give back to the community; to give back is to reward ourselves in the future, too.

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For two-days, majority of the time is dedicated to making a game from scratch. A representative from Unity gives an in-depth tutorial about the basics of the tool, and the hows and whys of each command. The kids are each given a PC and notes, and they must make their first game with the help of their imagination. Everyone, even us the volunteers, follow the instructions on the screen. It was interesting to see how a game is made from scratch. How a lot of hard work is put in to even the most basic of games.

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Kids are imaginative and easily influenced by the people around them. As volunteers, we assist them when they don’t understand why something isn’t working. We get to see kids coming from all over Pahang think. “Why is it not working?”, “How can I make it work?”. Curiosity is the best teacher.

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We also got to see how they are amazed by the things that they have done. Seeing your “character” move when you press a key? Adding sound effects when you shoot? Getting to control how many enemies and lives you have? When I saw one kids teaching his fellow students, I was filled with joy. It is only when you truly understand something that you can teach it to another.

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These are all examples of achievements that each and every kid made for Level Up Schools.

Making the kids believe that THEY CAN and THEY WILL is an achievement for us, too.

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Imagine that the esports world we know today is such because of the imagination and innovation of the kids from before. They weren’t exposed to these kinds of things. They had to learn by themselves. Can you imagine how much more efficient and wonderful the world of esports is in a few years if we continuously educate and inspire the youth of today?

 

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If we have indeed sparked the interest of the kids we just taught, then they are lucky to have known much earlier what they want to do in their life. Early exposure to things that one enjoys is a blessing.

The present and future of learning isn’t just by going to the right schools anymore. We are lucky to be alive when everything we want and need to know is available to us, 24/7.All we need now is the guidance from real people and real experiences.

This is what Level Up Schools is for. This is what MDEC, Forest Interactive, and its volunteers are giving back to the community. This is our gift to the present and the future of esports.

 

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Chantal-Denise Ortega

The author Chantal-Denise Ortega

Chantal is the esports girl of Forest Interactive. Her favorite games include: Skyrim, Borderlands, and Just Dance. Originally from the Philippines, she now calls Malaysia her home.

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