Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Esports gains popularity among Kenyan youths

20 Nov 2022, 21:55 GMT+10

NAIROBI, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Nick Kibe glides his game avatars gingerly across a video game football field dominating over competition and ultimately triumphing in a spectacular show of might.

27-year-old Kibe is a professional esports player from Kilifi, a town on the coast of Kenya.

He is among the fastest-rising stars in professional video gaming in the country where e-sports is seemingly obscure.

"I started playing video games at a tender age, about seven years old, I would play in cyber cafes where my father had enrolled me for computer lessons. I used to play mostly car racing games," Kibe said during a recent interview with Xinhua in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

"I had my first gaming console when I was eight years old. I would spend countless hours after school glued to the screen, which did not sit well with my parents because I would forget I had homework," he added.

In August, Kibe together with a team of eleven video gamers debuted in the inaugural Commonwealth esports championship organized by the Global Esports Federation in Birmingham, UK.

The mixed-gender team qualified to battle other teams in Rocket League and EFootball.

Before the competition, they had thrashed players from South Africa, Malawi and Ghana in the regional qualifiers held online in June.

Despite not winning, their encouraging performance affirmed Kenya's capacity to excel in professional video gaming.

Kibe realized immense opportunities in e-sports in 2016 while in college. "My eyes were probably opened to the opportunities and potential of esports at this time, I realized one could earn money out of it."

The enthusiastic gamer affirms spending at least five hours every day perfecting his craft.

He plays Call of Duty, CSGO and Age of Empires and refrains from identifying a favorite.

Gaming gobbles a good chunk of his time, although he said he is involved in other income-generating activities.

"I have not reached a point where I earn revenue directly from playing, although I have a video gaming enterprise where I scout for talent in Kilifi and support them to reach their potential," said Kibe.

Alpha Clan Esports has six players under its portfolio, and one of the players represented Kenya in the Africa Esports Championship in 2021.

The enterprise also educates the public on existing opportunities in video gaming.

For a long time, the societal profiling of video games in the east African nation has been unfavorable.

It is often viewed as an addictive and unconstructive hobby, particularly by parents.

Those that play it have had to navigate these stereotypes with unwavering determination.

Nonetheless, the evolving world order has proved that the sport can be professionalized and players can make an income out of it.

"My parents wanted me to concentrate on my studies when I began, my father only recently came to understand what it is I do," said Kibe.

Across the country, gaming dens are virtually everywhere, charging players as low as 0.4 dollars for a single game match.

Other more exquisite video gaming destinations charge more money.

Gaming equipment is relatively expensive for most households thus gaming enthusiasts have to visit video game parlors.

To revolutionize gaming and make it a lucrative sport, Kibe opines that interested players should not approach the game with a casual attitude.

"You have to practice often just the way football players practice every day to make them good. We also need to create awareness of the opportunities that are available in gaming. In addition, we need to increase the number of tournaments both physical and online," Kibe remarked.

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