Gaming has typically been viewed as a waste of time in Filipino culture. Children are told that gaming will affect their studies and their future employment, a stigma that has remained in society for many decades.
That's all starting to change, though. Gaming is now acknowledged as a competitive sport. In 2019, Esports, as they are known, were added to the Southeast Asian Games.
Game streaming is a rapidly growing new form of entertainment. While the practice of live streaming video games rose to popularity on Twitch, other platforms are catching on with streamers and viewers alike. Social media giant Facebook has joined in on the action with Facebook Gaming, which is now the top game streaming platform in the Philippines.
Game streaming is big business. Sponsors are flocking to the thriving industry, and talent industries catering to game streamers have been established to ensure proper management. Dozens of heavily sponsored gaming events and tournaments have popped up across the Philippines in recent years.
Esports are becoming more and more competitive every year as new talents enter the arena. Nowadays, even Filipino celebrities and models have taken up streaming and added it to their existing media portfolio. Some streamers have even become social media influencers. Here's a closer look at some of the rising stars of professional gaming in the Philippines.
Why did you choose to become a professional gamer?
''Dito ako masaya, mas masarap magwork, passion na ginigawa ko." ("This is where I'm happy, it's a nicer job, I'm following my passion.")
--Roniel a.k.a MananabasPH (Professional Esports player)
Do you have any tips for those who wish to pursue a career in Esports?
''Watch pro player streams then apply mo sa gameplay mo. Open ka dapat sa criticism ng ibang players. Be humble lalo na kung naging successful ka sa pagiging pro player.'' ("Watch pro player streams then apply them to your own gameplay. You should be open to criticism from other players. Be humble, especially once you become successful a pro player.")
--Andrei (Professional Esports player)
What's life like as a streamer?
''A day in my life as a streamer is like another episode in your favorite TV show. There's always something new to look forward to. There's always someone new that you'll meet thru streaming. You're protagonist of the show and when you go live the spot light is on you so you always have to make the best of it. Play your role well and impress your audience but never forget to be yourself in the process. And like your favorite TV show, life as a streamer also have action, drama, suspense and a lot of twists and turns but what's important is you know how to play your cards.''
--Play with NikkiNikki (Professional streamer)
How has your life changed since you started streaming?
''Streaming made me more of a people person and appreciate the community I'm in. I realized that this work is not all about me, but how I can reach out to other people and make a difference.''
--Aya Ezmaria (Professional streamer)
What's next for the Filipino gaming industry?
''Personally, I think the Philippine gaming industry is growing at a rapid rate in all aspects. Game developers need a team to work with them, such as artists, sounds, sales, business etc. More and more non-endemic brands are joining the scene, which shows that there is promise in the industry, leading to more people engaged. Especially in the campus E-Sports scene, with more companies engaging with students such as nationwide campus tournaments, educational school tours and develop courses related to E-sports. So the future is bright with the Philippine gaming industry. As someone who is involved in building the E-sports scene in the Visayas, I see great potential and promise to all joining the scene!''
--A Frederick Sansait (Director of External Affairs, ISC Events and Media CONQUEST)
What was once viewed as a waste of time is clearly anything but. Gaming has turned into a thriving industry in the Philippines, one with a very strong community. One thing is for sure -- gaming in the Philippines will only continue to LEVEL UP!