In one corner, youths huddle in front of a screen displaying their FIFA 23 game – their eyes glued to the screen with the occasional gasps and cheers on top of the frantic movement on their consoles. Not far away from them is another youth who is tucked inside a racing cockpit playing Gran Turismo but instead of a pit crew, his friends crowd around him and chime in with their suggestions on how to steer.
However, this is no shopping mall arcade. This is Temasek Polytechnic (TP).
This trailer is part of the initiative welcoming the first-ever Olympic Esports Week (OEW) – done in partnership between the International Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth – happening in Singapore next month.
With outdoor and sheltered stations, control-consoles, tablets, VR Pico headsets and a racing station are provided for the students to get a taste of the world of esports.
The trailer was at the institution from May 8 to 11, having moved from Bugis+ a few days prior. This was its second stop among the 13 locations it will visit in the lead up to the final event happening at Suntec City from June 22 to 25.
As the students test out the games, they are accompanied by Ilhammi Tan’s voice as the emcee-cum-gamer hosts the event in between the School of Design and the Garden Fiesta. He pointed out the wide screen above the tent that broadcasts the games being played within, cracking a joke to students telling them not to feel additional pressure.
Among the TP students, racing game Gran Turismo and football game FIFA 23 were the popular ones, the digital marketing executive from the organising team of the roving trailer, 29-year-old Daniel Hamid, highlighted. He added that this may be because the students may not have access to such extensive set-ups at home.
The racing station was observed to be often crowded with students. The drivers had their eyes fixed on the screen. With a firm grip on the Logitech G steering wheel, each turn was greeted with supportive cheers from their peers.
Ilhammi highlighted that the built of the cockpit was purposely designed to simulate a Formula-One style racing cockpit, with the low-like structure and bottom almost touching the ground. Participants were able to experience what it was like to be behind the wheel of a race car, while navigating the courses in Gran Turismo.
Muhammad Akid, 22, appreciated the move in bringing the rotation into schools as he finds it more accessible to students like him who have just finished their class and want to take a break.
“It’s good that they’re bringing these activities into schools because not everyone has the opportunity to go outside”, the Hospitality Tourism Management student said. “But in school, there’s lunchtime, time after class and projects, where we can just come down here and play.”
In addition to the hands-on games, key leaders in the world of esports and virtual sports are invited to share their insights to the public. Gad Tan, the creative director of esports gaming organisation Paper Rex, shared with the TP students about the importance of branding and jersey design and how it contributes to the success of esports teams.
Paper Rex is a Singapore-based gaming organisation who were crowned the 2022 winners at the Valorant Champions Tour in Istanbul.
In his sharing, Gad shared four key areas. Jerseys not only help teams remain sustainable through attracting and keeping sponsors, they are an extension of the team’s identity where fans can associate themselves with the team and their mantra. Furthermore, they help teams stay competitive during the games, being technically-considered on aspects like breathability, and making their players stand out on the stage.
“The last and the most important one is that well-designed jerseys build strong and loyal fanbases,” said Gad. “When fans wear team jerseys, they feel like they are part of a team. Unlike others who may sell replicas, we sell the exact same jerseys that our players are wearing on stage and this helps to build a sense of community and loyalty among all the fans.”
In fact, Paper Rex was one of the inspirations behind why one part-timer decided to take up this job. Alan Yip, 23, was job-hunting to fund his postgraduate trip when he came across an opening for this role on a Telegram work channel. As an avid Valorant fan, Alan looks up to Paper Rex, singling out professional esports player Jinggg as one of his inspirations.
“I think this job aligns with my personal interest and applying for this job helps me step out of my boundaries and approach aspiring gamers” Alan said. He added that since TP is known for their sports, exposure to esports could potentially spark something in the students too.
As the activation moves forward across the different areas in Singapore, the team will continue to look for ways to better the experience for its participants and spread the joy of esports.
“Everything is new to us, especially this activation itself, so we don’t really have much of an expectation,” said event coordinator Jackson Lim, 26.
“We’re just trying to bring out the best experience that we can for the people to try out.” He is part of the organising committee who created the idea of the roving trailer and brought it to life.
This was echoed by Daniel who said what used to take them two hours to set up has now become one hour, emphasising that they are learning as they go from the different venues and pick up new experiences.
The trailer will be at Toa Payoh Sports Centre for its next stop from 12 to 14 May. It will also head to Republic Polytechnic, ITE College Central, Singapore Sports Hub and the Somerset Youth Park over the next few weeks. Visitors are encouraged to try the OEW titles first hand, compete to win attractive prizes and meet with key leaders in the world of esports and virtual sports.
More information on tickets and the event schedule are available at https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/olympics0623.
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