Gaming finally comes of age: experts

GEEK’S REVENGE::After Taiwanese gamers scooped a US$1 million prize, observers said video games are shaking off a shady past, but urged parents to set limits for their kids

By Chen Yi-ching and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Tue, Oct 16, 2012 - Page 5

Video games and gaming consoles have managed to shake off their somewhat shadowy and negative past, emerging fresh and re-branded as a form of casual leisure activity, according to National Chiao Tung University professor Tammy Lin (林日璇).

The comments follow the victory by Taipei Assassins (TPA), a Taiwanese professional videogame competition team, which on Saturday won the Grand Final of the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship held in Los Angeles, California.

A gamer herself who has carried out focused research on gaming, Lin said: “The addiction to videogames isn’t simply a phenomenon for children; it is also something that happens to adults.”

“The key to not becoming addicted to gaming is to understand how much will power the individual has,” she said.

Berating and punishing children will not stop them from playing, Lin added, saying that parents should instead develop the concept of “family game time,” during which parents could also play with their children.

A reward system could be set up to allow children learn how to manage their own gaming time as well as reinforcing self-control, she added.

Writer and Internet celebrity Lucifer Chu (朱學恆), who has more than two decades of gaming experience under his belt, also suggested that if parents are worried that their children’s performance at school is being compromised, they can utilize the “carrot and stick” method and make a pact with their children about what is acceptable and what is not.

However, parents should note that once they make a promise — and their children are abiding by the rules — they must not shrink from rewarding them, he said.

Chu also made a clear distinction between gaming for fun and professional gaming, saying that if it was for fun then self-control is a must-have quality, but adding that if it is a profession, the player must train and play for extended periods of time whether they liked it or not.

A National Taiwan University Department of Mechanical Engineering graduate Hung Chen-yu (洪辰瑜) said that videogames were the same as basketball and baseball in that in all three activities involve competing to win.

“It is something of a Taiwanese trait to compete,” Hung said, pointing out that the League of Legends has more than 2.4 million registered users in Taiwan, making up nearly 70 to 80 percent of US server-based users.

Hung expressed hope that the TPA team’s performance would help generate a working environment for the gaming profession in Taiwan, saying: “It doesn’t matter how good you are at gaming, if you can’t afford your next meal.”

Chu also criticized high-tech companies in Taiwan, saying they had invested too little in the competitive gaming industry, adding that such a lack of attention was not conducive to the long-term development of the industry.

Teams in other countries all have industry sponsors, but in Taiwan sponsors are usually gaming companies themselves, Chu said, adding that this meant local teams were forced to change their team’s name, or even master a different game, in line with the needs of the gaming companies and their product lines.

The freedom and continuity of professional players in the industry is affected greatly by this, Chu said.

League of Legends is a spin-off from the popular Defense of the Ancients map for Warcraft 3, a video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment which enjoys a gamer population of more than 70 million users worldwide.