Your teenager spends evenings glued to his computer screen. There scroll images of fights, monsters, adventures. Fantastic landscapes in front of which you may feel overwhelmed. Despite first impressions, he may be building a great career.
Esports, or electronic games, is a booming market. Tournaments are held internationally and involve tens of thousands of US dollars. Many are trying to carve out a place at the top, but only a very selective elite will succeed. “It takes a lot of talent to break through,” says Louis-Philippe Geoffrion, alias PainDeViande. He is one of the only players in Quebec to have distinguished himself in the professional video game sector. "It's hard, and it doesn't immediately pay off," he adds.
That doesn't stop millions of gamers from bingeing on games like League of Legends, or Smite, in the case of MeatPain. These games are what we call "MMO", i.e. massively multiplayer online games. There are people of all ages and from all countries in a complex universeand highly developed. In recent years, these virtual territories have also been the site of competitions that attract thousands of fans.
Video games at school
“Video games are a passion like any other. There are opportunities for outlets, except that they are generally low,”says Louis-Philippe Geoffrion. Yet, it is impossible to deny the importance of this industry, here as elsewhere. video games are here to stay.
With this in mind, several schools are beginning to set up programs to guide practice and promote professionalization. “Before, video games were the enemy of school. Today, that's changing because schools see the value in the fight against school dropouts,”says the director of the Quebec Federation of Electronic Sports (FQSE), Patrick Pigeon.
The Cégep de Matane is a pioneer in the field, thanks to its sports-studies program featuring Esports. Like any other sport, the academic component is combined with weekly training sessions, and even internal competitions. Perhaps most importantly, the program includes a he althy lifestyle component that monitors hours of sleep, diet, and physical activity.
This is a real mini-revolution for the Quebec video game industry. The creation of such a program means a change of mentality, an opening to video games as something other than aentertainment. "It's a long-term motivation point, believes Louis-Philippe Geoffrion. In 5 or 10 years, the possibilities will be even greater.”
Not just entertainment
Universities also organize video game clubs. These clubs provide players with discipline and coaching to improve their skills. "We progress better as a team, and that allows us to meet other than on the web", notes the president of the ETS Esports club, Nathanael Girard. He has been playing since the age of 10, but now also devotes himself to coaching the team. "It's a mix of entertainment and professionalism," he says. Even if discipline is a central element of the organization, the group also takes the opportunity to simply talk about video games, a favorite subject that is not within the reach of those around them.
“Video games are a huge investment of time. But it is also and above all entertainment, recalls Louis-Philippe Geoffrion. It's a whole ecosystem, from local tournaments to professionals. Many young people are attracted to this universe, which can also promote socialization. It is a leisure that may seem unnatural, but many people find it a source of fulfillment. It is up to everyone to weigh the pros and cons of intensive practice, and to see to what extent video games could eventually become more than a game.
Written by Ericka Muzzo
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