Connecting with others through eSports

Gamer Amos Ker, who plays the video game Vainglory, has fans in Indonesia that stop him at the airport for pictures when he travels.
Gamer Amos Ker, who plays the video game Vainglory, has fans in Indonesia that stop him at the airport for pictures when he travels.ST PHOTO: ZHANG XUAN

In Singapore, he walks around mostly unnoticed. But sometimes when Mr Amos Ker, 18, travels the region, he is a mini-celebrity.

As a professional gamer in the eSports world, playing the game Vainglory, he gets stopped at the airport in Indonesia by fans who want to take pictures with him. He also had a meet-and-greet with fans in Cambodia last month.

Online, thousands of fans support his team in competitions and watch his YouTube live streams.

Not unlike other professional athletes, he has a manager and sponsors.

Vainglory is a multiplayer online battle arena game.

He said: "I do gaming not because it's fun, but because I'm competitive. I want to be the best in the region, and this game is purely based on skill, not luck."

Competitions and appearances at e-gaming events have taken him to the United States, Indonesia, the Philippines, China and Cambodia.

He said: "I've learnt a little bit of Cambodian, Malay and Vietnamese from getting into voice communication chats while playing with these people. It's funny to hear people screaming and complaining about their Wi-Fi connection. I've made quite a number of friends through the game."

In an effort to bond through eSports, National Youth Council (NYC) chief David Chua said that the Hyperplay programme was introduced as part of a larger Asean-themed youth celebration, YOUTHx, initiated by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the NYC.

The League of Legends competition, held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, will see national teams from Asean member countries competing for the title of Asean champion over Aug 4 and 5.

Said Mr Chua: "It is crucial for our Singaporean youth to know our Asean backyard better, and be connected to the youth networks and opportunities in the region. Platforms like Hyperplay can strengthen their Asean identity and ties with their Asean peers, allowing them to pursue their passion with purpose."

Singapore's Cybersports and Online Gaming Association chairman Nicholas Khoo estimates that there are at least 500,000 eSports enthusiasts out of a gaming population of more than two million in Singapore.

He said: "Hosting eSports tournaments can gather youth with similar interests from all corners of Asean together, both online and offline. It also promotes sportsmanship, camaraderie and cultural exchange."

On his ambitions going forward, Mr Ker said: "I've been wanting to do eSports since I was 15. The optimal lifespan of a gamer is about five to 10 years, as your reflexes will slow, but after that I can shift to professional coaching, managing, analysing or streaming."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 08, 2018, with the headline 'Connecting with others through eSports'. Print Edition | Subscribe