Self-belief, confidence, critical tools for Jamaica's eSports pioneers

By Melissa Talbert August 29, 2020

Although it is often considered a career choice well off the beaten path, as far as regular 9 to 5s go anyway, eSports innovator, Sheraine Peart, urges young gamers and designers to not think limits in relation to what can be achieved in a rapidly growing industry.

It’s no secret that embarking on the journey towards unconventional careers is often met with the usual warnings; always have a plan B or just to avoid it entirely.  Peart, however, believes that for gaming the winds of change have begun to blow in regards to such notions, in no small part due to the work of organisations altering that perception.  The work of places like the Jamaica Animation Nation Network (JANN), for example, has proven invaluable in improving the skill sets of animators in Jamaica.

“I hope Jamaicans won’t think of animation and game design as careers that only exist overseas,” Peart, the creator of titles like ‘Zsymel’ and co-creator of ‘Son (of a) net’ and  ‘Twisted Therapy,’ said.

“I’m proud of the initiatives supporting eSports in Jamaica. It’s hard work carving out space, getting the funds, and functioning in an industry that’s not as mainstream in Jamaica as say medicine. I’m very impressed with what has been accomplished but they [eSports organisations] need more funding,” she added.

 Funding aside, the digital artist, who specializes in animation, illustration, writing, and coding, can face a number of struggles.  One of the most significant obstacles Peart points out is a crisis of confidence.

“Working in a creative field is rough. There's a mental aspect to it that no one really talks about. It's as much about your confidence and belief in yourself as it is about your skills. I've met many artists who would be so much further than I am if they had the confidence to put themselves out there,” Peart explained.

At one point, she admits it was difficult even for her to know what to do next.  Peart was accepted into the Digital Stone Project in Italy and became the first Jamaican artist to take part. It resulted in her first international exhibition as a traditional artist.

After returning to New York, from Italy, she feared the worst.  She began to think it was impossible to top her previous achievement, to accomplish more amazing and groundbreaking feats.  The self-doubt crept in when she began comparing herself to others who were veterans.  Peart, however, sought solace in her art.

She designed Pari, a character from her virtual reality game ‘Zsymel’.  The character serves as a visual representation of how she felt during that crisis of self-doubt.  Pari is a war refugee trying to find ‘home’. She is a double leg amputee and a kickboxer whose friend Hok'to designs her prosthetics. She’s also the least developed character in the game.

 The key thing, however, is that the character doesn’t let her limitations stop her from accomplishing her dreams.

“I’m proud of the character’s growth and I want to share that with others,” Peart explained.

Pari and the eSports community have something in common, extreme limitations. The eSports community lacks funding and support, while Pari has no legs. Naturally, both situations could result in feelings of inadequacy. However, the eSports community would do well aiming to continue to match the example of Pari’s drive and determination regardless of the circumstances.

 

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