A Welsh Conservative debate today has called on the Welsh Government to be more on the ball over the growing eSports movement happening across the world.
The Shadow Minister with responsibility for Culture, Media, and Sport, David Melding AM, launched a debate in the Welsh Parliament this afternoon, recognising the growing impact of the eSports industry and urging the Welsh Government to harness the possible economic benefits of becoming involved with the movement.
He also called on the Welsh Government to consider helping Wales host its first international eSports competition.
The growing industry of eSports involves competitive video gaming, with people playing against each other online or, if played in a professional setting, usually for a cash prize in front of spectators at an indoor arena. They can be played at both an amateur and professional level, and are played on computers, video game consoles, and mobile technology.
There are a wide range of roles within professional eSports, including players; coaches; marketing and business management and games developers. As such, it is a multi-skilled environment with those involved fulfilling a range of roles as well as playing the game.
English universities are now offering eSports degree courses, as skills associated with gaming, such as rapid decision-making and problem-solving, digital literacy and communication skills, have a wide applicability within the economy and particularly STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and maths) businesses.
Mr Melding today asked the Welsh Government to join the UK Government in investing in the sector, by hosting competitions and supporting universities to boost the possible long-term economic benefits.
The 2017 UK Government-commissioned Balzagette Review states that the UK’s creative industries could be worth £128.4 billion to the economy by 2025, and could help create up to 1 million new jobs by 2030. The review proposes that the UK Government could fund esports tournaments, national teams and media coverage to help raise the status of eSports, and today the Welsh Conservatives asked the Welsh Government to do the same.
Commenting after the debate, David Melding AM said:
“The potential value of this exciting challenge is huge, as indicated in several recent statistics.
“Just last year, it was estimated that the global monthly eSports audience will reach 276million people by 2022, similar to the US’s NFL today.
“So we are calling for the Welsh Government to cooperate with the UK Government, which recently announced funding of £4million to the support the development of computer games in the UK.
“Wales must not be left behind, so we would like to see the Welsh Government build on the UK Government’s investment of extra £23.7 million over five years to extend the highly successful and innovative UK Games Fund and Transfuzer development programme”.