SA govt to fund e-sports

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The Department of Sports and Recreation has signed an agreement with Mind Sports SA (MSSA) to run in partnership, and introduce a national electronic sport (e-sport) event in the country.

The e-sport event, which is planned to be the country's biggest gaming event of the year, will take place on 20 and 21 August at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town. MSSA plans to make it an annual event.

The e-sports event will cover tournaments covering specific PC games, console games, mobile games, texting and Guitar Hero. It will also see top gamers being awarded Protea and provincial colours, as well as places to enter the national team.

Gaming gets govt nod

Colin Webster, president of MSSA, says that MSSA needed the support from government to grow and develop e-sports on a national scale.

“We've been talking about this initiative since 2009 and we've seen a lot of interest coming from the Cape Town municipality.

“The city wants to be on the cutting edge of technology. This event will be positioned in the same way as athletics and cycling to make it sustainable.”

Webster points out that the event will allow for mass participation of the public interested in gaming. There will also be free coaching and tuition given to the public.

“All the games played at our provincial championships will be played at this event. Funding will come from local government as well as private sponsorship.”

According to Webster, there will be various competitions and test matches to show the public the top international players competing against the Protea e-sports teams.

He adds that the event will combine the Western Cape championship, which will be open to all gamers as a part of an initiative to plough back to the community.

Webster says that MSSA is currently in talks with the Johannesburg council to have a similar initiative in Gauteng.

Coming of age

“The important issue is that this event shows how e-sports have come of age. Local government is buying into it and seeing the benefits gaming has on the community,” notes Webster.

“This is something where even local government realises people have to become more technologically aware in order to keep pace of what is going on with the world today.”

He points out the development of computer gaming is often seen as the building blocks for computer programmes. “Gaming teaches fast level of problem solving, logical thinking as well as computer skills. These are important skills needed for today's world.”

MSSA is an affiliate of the South African Confederation of Sport and Olympic Committee. The MSSA is responsible for the good governance and promotion of e-Sports (whether they are played on cellphones, consoles or personal computers), board games and historical figure games (also known as war games).

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