Cyber gaming: the next frontier for the country’s youth
By Uzair Amir
LAHORE: Whenever one hears the term ‘cyber gaming’, one cannot help but blurt out that “playing games is something that children do”. What has remained unknown to most of Pakistan is that not only does cyber gaming provide a much needed distraction from the deteriorating law and order situation and inflation plaguing the country, but it is also a proper sport in which Pakistan has managed, in a very short period of time, to make a name for itself on an international level, with several Pakistani gamers being considered ‘household names’ in gaming circles around the world, Daily Times has learnt.
Gaming cafes have steadily and subtly popped up across the country, with the main hubs of gaming fanatics being Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.
The trend came to light at the turn of the millennium. Ten years on, scores of Pakistani players are invited to the World Cyber Games, the world cup of gaming fans across the globe. Despite its first impression, the activity has proven to be a proper sport, with teams basing their games on proper worked-out strategies and team coordination. Not only has the activity provided much needed distractions from the troubles of the world around us, it has been used by organisations and students alike as a method of building up coordination and instilling in the masses a spirit of camaraderie.
Talking to Daily Times, Majid Mahmood, the manager operations of Neomatrix — one of the leading and pioneer gaming cafes in Lahore, said that his cafÃ© had been established in 2002 with the aim of providing a proper platform to the gamers to show-off their skills at an international level. “The slow and steady trend of gaming cafes being established in the provincial capital has led to young gamers getting an exposure the likes of which they had not experienced earlier. Since 2005, our country has been proudly represented in the World Cyber Games and the Electronic Sports World Cup. In the five years that we have partaken in the WCG, the country has progressed rapidly and has gained a very good repute in ‘Warcraft’ (a strategy-based game in which one has a host of armies at their disposal) and FIFA (the leading game for football fans around the world). In these two games, our players have been in the world top ten rankings since 2008,” Majid said, adding that qualifiers for every major tournament are held in the respective cities, after which the qualified gamers travel for the national finals, which are either held in Karachi or Lahore. “The winner of the national finals makes his way to whichever country is hosting the WCG and represents Pakistan,” he said, adding that the country had just completed its national finals last month and the winners would be travelling to the US in September for this year’s WCG.
Talking to Daily Times, Ahmer Mubashar, a gaming enthusiast, said, “What started out as fun in 2002 has turned into a very enjoyable obsession. We could not have imagined at that time that one day we would be getting the opportunity to showcase our skills in front of a global audience… however, now we realise that the sky is the limit, anything is possible. I see children and men alike coming together in a very unique way to find respite from the ugliness in the world around us. And now that the world has started to recognise our contributions and our abilities, we know that things can only get better. God willing, our team will do very well in the upcoming WCG in the US,” he said.
Interestingly, like so many other sports, cyber gaming has seen a growing competitive rivalry emerge between India and Pakistan. The first two times that the two countries squared off was in 2009 in the first-person shooter game ‘Counter Strike’, with Pakistan winning on both occasions. After that, our neighbours invited our team over for a friendly tour, which was widely appreciated with gamers of both countries coming together in the spirit of sportsmanship.
With the WCG to be held in September, our boys need all the support from the country that they can get. With Pakistan facing so many challenges and losing its importance in traditional sports such as hockey, cricket and squash, cyber gaming could be the one beacon of hope in which our next generation can put our name where it belongs, on the top of the world.
Source: Daily Times