Jamaican gamers must play heroes to push esports industry boom

By Melissa Talbert November 13, 2020

  The esports industry developing in Jamaica - but not necessarily at the fast rate most of its well-wisher would want.  Its steady but slow progress is often blamed on relics that doubt the industry’s viability. As a result, gamers are encouraged to lead the way, but they too often face a seemingly unrelenting fight for validation.

 Undeniably, the Covid-19 pandemic allowed big corporations to appreciate the possibilities and potential of eSports.

In October, Jamaica’s governing body for esports, Jamaica Esports Initiative (JEI) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and inked deals with several other key stakeholders.

More recently, the JEI was among 12 esports federations from the Caribbean and Latin America to form the Caribbean Esports Federations Alliance (CEFA) - which is supported by investors like Tencent.

Despite all the advancement at the highest level, partial efforts from gamers hinder advancement in Jamaica’s esports industry.

Milton Pellington, gamer and owner of the Area 51 Digital Lounge (home to eSports Jamaica) says “there's some responsibility they [gamers] have to take for the lack of enthusiasm from corporate."

 Potential corporate sponsors and investors find esports undeserving of attention because “they [gamers] don't take themselves seriously.

The gaming community doesn't band together as strongly as they should,” Pellington said.

Gamers are, after all, significant contributors to the growth of the industry. Their outlook on gaming may shape a sponsor’s perspective of the community. It’s in a gamer’s best interest to value esports as a business since partnerships will make esports tournaments sustainable.

 Esports is heavily dependent on tournaments. They reveal the best players to represent Jamaica whether regionally or on the world stage. Tournaments offer experiences and cash prizes that are made possible through funding from sponsors. With sponsors funding tournaments, gaming feels closer to a 'paying job'.

Some argue that esports will not grow unless there is a hefty amount in cash prizes. Then, players will dedicate more time and effort to the craft rather than going about it casually.

 But gamers must market themselves as professionals nevertheless.

Image and reputation are crucial factors for gamers trying to advance their careers. Tending to these factors is of utmost importance since there is a preconceived notion associated with gamers. Taking the initiative to market themselves as professionals will improve their personal brand - giving gamers more opportunities to effectively communicate their values, skills, experiences, and vision to potential sponsors.

When gamers promote themselves professionally, it encourages networking and collective effort. Gamers who are widely-recognised as professionals will want to associate themselves with each other. In doing so, a mutually beneficial relationship can develop. A gamer who prides him or her image and exhibits noble traits establishes a loyal fanbase. With a trusting audience, gamers are able to recommend other gamers without their audience second-guessing them while the other gamer gets positive exposure from that.

Currently, the JEI does not train gamers, however, president Gregory Moore says they are creating “the necessary relationships for clubs to be formed for training it's players” and while their website advertises an upcoming esports and marketing workshop to "arm yourself with the knowledge of this industry in order to ensure your product is accepted by the digital age," it doesn’t say the workshop is mandatory for all gamers that are recruited - even more reasons for gamers to act responsibly and take the initiative to market themselves professionally.


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