They say if you can dream it you can achieve but nobody tells you the steps it takes from dreaming to achieving.
I once saw a poll asking people to choose between becoming an astronaut or a big-time YouTube content creator, and 70 percent chose the latter. Comments under the poll were mostly on how this generation had lost meaning as an astronaut was a more worthy profession. All I saw were 70 percent of realistic people. Truth is you’re more likely to become a successful content creator on YouTube than an astronaut who gets to fly to space. This is not because being a YouTuber is easy, but because the tools you need are more readily available to you.
Becoming an astronaut is just like becoming a pro gamer in Nigeria and many other African countries. There are a lot of good gamers who want to compete beyond local events but the truth is they are restricted by an infinite number of barriers.
The first of these issues is power! Yes, you may be wondering how is electricity an issue, are we not in 2020…Well, it seems my country isn’t. Nigeria currently does not provide 24 hours of electricity for its citizens, and this limits gamers who would like to stream or compete in an online event. Imagine streaming on Twitch or YouTube or competing in an online tournament and all of a sudden, the power goes off and your, mobile, PC, or console goes off. You would definitely not want to host a stream or participate in a live tournament leaving in constant fear of the power going off.
Another on the long list of barriers is funding. This is a major barrier not only faced by gamers or teams in Nigeria but also everywhere in the world. Especially in these times where most companies are facing the economic impact of coronavirus. The ability to afford good PC and gaming equipment has held some of these gamers back.
The third issue is PING and SERVERS. Yes, the capital letters are necessary here. In 2019, PUBG released a post stating that servers were coming to Africa in 2020 and the whole African gaming community was mad excited. Well, we are into the second half of the wild 2020 and still no update on those servers.
I understand that there are certain thresholds that game developers look at before making servers available to regions and there may be excuses for some games not having a wide reach in Africa as it does in other parts of the world. I’ve been a big League of Legends fan for years now and the day I get a PC to play it would probably be one of my happiest days, but I do not expect servers for the game in my country now because I know it’s not all too popular here.
However, there are some games that are quite popular here and one server test would not hurt. Having to pay for a VPN service or play on a 160- 230ms Europe ping on PUBG against someone with 20–50ms is a really frustrating experience for someone trying to go pro.
Some players here keep grinding in FIFA weekend leagues but cannot participate in the FIFA Global Series as only Egypt and South African residents are the only Africans eligible. Part of the text from a petition on behalf of a Senegalese player who secured 28 Wins on FUT Champions this week and reached the top 100 on FIFA 20 to participate in the FIFA Global series read:
If we cannot participate in the official tournaments that FIFA organises, how can we develop FIFA and gaming in Africa in general ?
Well apart from these issues, there is still a lot wrong with the Nigerian gaming scene. For a country whose esports scene is still in progress, it already has 2 independent bodies fighting for the governance of the esports scene. The legitimate one is that being led by Emmanuel Oyelakin while the other is being led by a bunch of people who met the government for funds to “develop esports locally with the aim of making the game a national sporting event in Nigeria”….whatever that means.
In one of my conversations about the Nigerian gaming industry with Nigeria’s first FIFA pro player, Daniel “DoxOse” Osemeudiame(and soon to be official Guinness record holder for most-streamed hours of FIFA), I really got to understand how difficult it was to succeed in Nigeria as a pro gamer. Dox left Nigeria for South Africa as he got signed by Sinister5 in South Africa.
However, not everyone would get his opportunity. The rest of these gamers continue to grind and hope for a brighter future in their chosen field. People say have talent but sometimes maybe tools and talent would be better.
Written by Rashidat Jimoh