The seventh edition of the Singapore Media Festival (SMF) returned in a hybrid format this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a damper on large gatherings and events, putting part of the festival on a virtual platform just made sense.
The year’s SMF sees the addition of the inaugural SuperGamerFest (SGF), which will be held over two weekends on 5-6 December and 11-13 December. The joint venture between Singtel and Globe in the Philippines is a fully digital event that highlights esports as a growing industry in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
The event, which you can still catch this weekend, includes exclusive esports watch parties, interviews with popular esports personalities, workshops, and masterclasses. The first-ever SuperGamerFest Awards will also take part this weekend and will award key players in the esports industry, such as Esports Coach of the Year, Esports Performance of the Year, and Esports Pro Player of the Year.
Growing an esports hub in Singapore
The focus on esports at this year’s SMF is a strategic one for the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). In an interview with TheHomeGround Asia, Joachim Ng, Director, Media Ecosystem Development at IMDA shared that “the esports and gaming sector is a booming and vibrant sector in Southeast Asia. Its significance was also demonstrated during the debut as a medal sport at the 2019 SEA Games, where Singapore also notched several milestones by bringing home two medals.”
Mr Ng sees the games development and esports industry in Singapore as one that is growing in tandem with its rise globally, especially in the Asian region. In Singapore alone, Mr Ng shared that there are about 190 games development and publishing companies.
“Singapore’s thriving gaming ecosystem, state of the art facilities, robust communications networks and its position as a commercial hub put Singapore as a prime location for hosting important entertainment and esports events,” he said.
Esports and gaming companies have set up regional hubs in Singapore, which has helped to provide opportunities and initiatives for the development of local players. “Just over the past year, we’ve seen our local players make their mark in the international stage, such as Thomas Kopanikiewicz who clinched a silver medal for Singapore in last year’s SEA Games,” Mr Ng said.
Paving the way for industry talents
It is not just local players that Singapore hopes to develop. Some top names in the gaming industry that have become well-known globally include Ian Ang, founder of gaming chair company Secretlab, Marcus Wee, founder of gaming PC company Aftershock, and of course, Min Liang Tan, CEO of Razer, which produces gaming hardware and more.
IMDA is hoping to use SuperGamerFest as a way to identify and recognise esports and gaming talents in the region. In the next two years, more will also be done to help provide support to the growing industry. Mr Ng explained that the industry will require about 2,700 info-communication and media professionals to support the games sector, and so the government established DigiPen (Singapore) in 2017 as a specialised game school to teach students about digital animation and video game design.
Partnerships are also being done between IMDA and various companies to train people for job roles to support the games industry and create new career opportunities for Singaporeans. One such example is IMDA’s partnership with Sea Group, which is training 500 data/business analysts, engineers, product managers and UI/UX designers over the next two to three years.
IMDA also supports associations, such as Singapore Games Association (SGGA) and the Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA) for the development of talents.
Identifying career and growth opportunities
Gwen Guo, Chairperson of SGGA shared with TheHomeGround Asia that SGGA is “working with key industry stakeholders to identify growth opportunities for members including business networking and capability development through training”.
“We aim to bring global and regional events to Singapore, which will help to provide more opportunities for our local businesses,” she said. “We are also exploring standardisation and accreditation processes for the industry.”
With SuperGamerFest and the multitude of programmes being run to develop the esports industry, it is safe to say that society will be looking at esports as more than just a hobby. SGGA has launched the Singapore Esports platform to champion and celebrate achievements of Singaporeans and local businesses, as well as to provide education and resources for those who might have an interest in a career in esports. A national esports league is also in the works.
“Most youths only see the front facing parts of esports, such as being a professional player, commentator or content creator, but in actuality, there is a more extensive ecosystem behind these roles that many are unaware of, such as league operations, tournament production, team management, hospitality and esports marketing,” shared Guo.
Guo likened the esports industry to that of the entertainment and sports industries, although there are some roles that are unique to the needs of the industry. For those who want to be a part of this growing and exciting industry, Guo said “it is an exciting time to be in esports now, as we are pushing boundaries and creating new jobs as the industry continues to evolve and grow.”