Japanese Serious About E-Sports

New academy designed to ensure that Japan does not get left behind

Fears that Japan may be lagging in the burgeoning development of the eSports phenomenon in Asia has prompted the Jikei Gakuen COM group of professional training colleges to set up a dedicated eSports academy on the Nishikasai campus, the Financial Times reports.

The first course of 40 students started out a year ago and will graduate in March 2018.

Half of the second course of 60 students this year will spend a great deal of time (up to six hours a day) honing their practical playing skills, interspersed with “meticulous discussion of strategy and tutorials on mental preparedness techniques.” Criteria such as five mouse-clicks a second are described in the article.

Others will study the theorems of game analysis, commentary broadcasting, cheating detection and event management.

Demand for places has been so high that Jikei Gakuen is planning to open a second campus in Osaka.

The FT piece notes that eSports today has global audiences of 400 million and revenues of $650 million annually, with the potential for considerable growth beyond that. Japan has taken note of the interest displayed by mainstream television networks and the marketing departments of major brands, and the fact that in the region South Korea is dominating and making rapid advances into China and Southeast Asia.

Sponsorship deals have become bigger, and the prize pools for the largest tournaments have swollen to well over $2 million, the FT points out, and millionaire eSports heroes are beginning to emerge, fuelling the ambitions of others in their generation.

Japan’s eSports presence is surprisingly low, which FT opines is probably due to a focus on games not widely played in international terms, and a preference for console video gaming rather than the PC and mobile gaming which is prevalent elsewhere in the world.

This has created the so-called “Galápagos effect” isolating the country, and the Jikei Gakuen is in part motivated by a desire to not be left behind as eSports evolves.

It is never too soon to establish world-class aspirations, a Jikei Gakuen spokesman said: “Why is Brazil good at football? Because children start playing aged three. We do that with video games, but we need to think about global markets. Japan has so much potential.”

https://www.ft.com/content/0018d284-1dfd-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c