LCQ18: Promoting development of e-sports industry
It has been reported that in recent years, video game playing has developed from a general leisure activity into electronic sports (e-sports). The size of the global e-sports market reached US$460 million in 2016, indicating that e-sports have become a new driving force for economic growth. Quite a number of countries and regions regularly offer e-sports training programmes and organise professional leagues, and have classified e-sports as sports. On the other hand, when he announced the 2018-2019 Budget, the Financial Secretary indicated that the Government would allocate $100 million to Cyberport to develop the Cyberport Arcade into an e-sports and digital entertainment hotspot for providing a venue for e-sports competitions, in order to promote the development of the e-sports industry. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it will consider (i) setting up indoor or outdoor e-sports venues in various districts and (ii) adjusting the sports policy to classify e-sports as sports; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) given that Cyberport made, in its Report on Promotion of E-sports Development in Hong Kong submitted to the Government in February this year, a host of recommendations on promoting the development of e-sports, which included nurturing professional and amateur e-sports talents by providing training to them, whether the Government will encourage various tertiary institutions to offer diploma and undergraduate programmes on e-sports, so as to enhance the recognition of e-sports talents and their professional status, thereby attracting more young people to join the e-sports sector; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether it will support, by setting up an award pool, etc, the e-sports sector in organising more local leagues, so as to nurture local players to participate in major international e-sports tournaments as representatives of Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) given that industries such as digital entertainment, online streaming, competitive sports, electronic product research and development, as well as advertising industry are integral to the e-sports industry chain, whether the Government will consider building a co-operation platform for e-sports and the related industries to promote the long-term development of such industries, thereby creating a large number of relevant jobs; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(5) whether the Government will provide more support for local e-sports game developers, such as setting up a fund to help them with product development as well as promotion and advertising, so as to enhance the international competitiveness of local e-sports game products; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(6) given that there have been cases in the past in which young people became so obsessed with playing video games that they put off sleeping and eating, and were lured away from their work or studies, of the measures the Government has in place to (i) remind young people to exercise self-control when playing video games and (ii) provide counselling for those who are addicted, so as to eliminate the public's negative impression on e-sports and video games and promote the healthy development of the e-sports industry?
Regarding the six parts of the questions, in consultation with the Education Bureau (EDB), the Food and Health Bureau, the Home Affairs Bureau and the Labour and Welfare Bureau, our reply is as follows:
(1) The 2018-19 Budget has announced the funding allocation of $100 million to Cyberport to promote the development of e-sports, of which $50 million will be used for developing the Cyberport Arcade into a local e-sports and digital entertainment node. This includes the conversion of part of the Arcade facilities into a competition venue for e-sports.
As regards the suggestion of classifying e-sports as a sporting activity, the Government will closely monitor international and local developments, including the position of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and whether a relevant "national sports association" would be established in Hong Kong according to the established procedures of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, which is a member of the IOC and Asia Olympic Council.
(2) In December 2017, Cyberport submitted its Report on Promotion of E-sports Development in Hong Kong, which highlights that the e-sports industry involves the research and development and application of a wide variety of skills and technologies, including e-sports hardware, digital audio/video, broadcasting, game design and development, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality and online marketing, etc. In respect of professional development of e-sports, Cyberport is currently discussing with the local tertiary institutions to utilise its venue and facilities as well as the funding allocation proposed by the Budget for nurturing talents.
Besides, the universities and post-secondary institutions also provide academic programmes on the professions related to e-sports. In the 2016/17 academic year, 3 526 students were enrolled in the University Grants Committee-funded undergraduate programmes that are related to computer science, and information and technology (IT). In developing the curricula, the universities would work closely with relevant stakeholders (including the industry) to keep track of the latest manpower trend and industry needs.
Through the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors (SSSDP), the EDB also encourages the self-financing post-secondary education sector to offer programmes in selected disciplines, including creative industries, to nurture talent in support of specific industries with keen manpower demand. In the 2018/19 academic year, 37 programmes will be under the SSSDP, including three programmes related to digital entertainment, animation and visual effects, and multimedia technology and innovation.
The IT higher diploma programmes offered by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) cover a wide range of areas which include game software development, mobile applications development, multimedia, and games and animation, and involve some e-sports components. In addition, the VTC is studying the skills needs of the e-sports industry and will explore if it should offer module(s), a new higher diploma programme, or in-service training programmes on e-sports.
(3) to (5) Apart from the provision of venue, Cyberport will utilise the remaining funding of $50 million to support the development of the industry, including organisation of local and regional competitions and mega events, training programmes and public promotion activities. Cyberport will also improve its start-ups and talents development programmes, discover and equip the start-ups and talents in areas relating to e-sports technologies and game development. Cyberport is liaising with the sector to solicit their views and suggestions on how to make the best use of the funding, for example, setting up an award pool, building a co-operation platform for the industry and supporting local e-sports game development, etc. We are planning to submit details of the Cyberport's proposals to the Legislative Council Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting in May.
(6) E-sports competitions are conducted mostly on a team basis (each team usually has five players) except for duels. Team competition emphasises systematic training and requires team members to receive prolonged training and build rapport among them, to co-operate and communicate with one another, as well as to align with the professional analysis and tactics of the coaches and the team. As a group activity, e-sports is different from the common sense of "playing video games" which is a personal recreational pastime.
Cyberport will make use of the funding allocation as announced in the Budget to launch public promotion and engagement activities, including seminars, small-scale e-sports competitions and exhibitions on game history and products. Cyberport will also set up an experience corner at the future Cyberport e-sports and digital entertainment node and invite e-sports and digital entertainment industry to showcase related new technologies and e-sports products to raise the public's positive understanding and interest in e-sports, game development and related technologies.
On the other hand, learning elements helping students to develop healthy lifestyles, including regular daily schedule, not indulge in Internet surfing, etc, are covered in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools. The EDB has also provided an information kit for reference by schools in undertaking relevant parent education. Through organising seminars and workshops, the EDB helps parents develop proper attitude of their children in using IT in daily life and study, in order to avoid Internet addiction. Besides, a telephone hotline has been set up to provide individual support to parents, teachers and students in need.
For community support, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) subvents non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to provide young people with a range of preventive, developmental and remedial services, including integrated children and youth services centres, school social work, youth outreaching service and the Community Support Service Scheme, so as to help them deal with their academic, social and emotional difficulties, including those problems arising from addiction to video games. Besides, the SWD will, starting from 2018-19, subvent NGOs to set up five cyber youth support teams, which will reach out to at-risk and hidden youth through the online platforms commonly used by young people. Apart from addressing their deviant behaviours relating to the use of the Internet (including addiction to using the Internet/playing video games), the teams will also provide immediate consultation and counselling services with regard to their social and emotional problems. Where necessary, the social workers will meet with the young people for in-depth discussions and provide suitable follow-up services, including referring them and their family members to relevant mainstream services. Besides, the Department of Health has been working closely with schools and NGOs to promulgate healthy use of Internet and electronic screen products among students and youths, and providing kids and other target groups (such as parents and teachers) with the information and resources to tackle related issues.
Ends/Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Issued at HKT 12:00
Issued at HKT 12:00