Kanazawa, Japan, wants to take over the esports world

Japan played an important role in the history of video games – for a very, very long time, the Asian country was the center of all things console-gaming. Sony, Nintendo and more originated from there and are still primarily based there… yet, despite their prominent role when it comes to gaming, Japan isn’t all that big in the esports world.

Competitive gaming has been comparatively slow to take off and ran into several hurdles, many of them of the legal kind, as there are restrictions on gambling and the like, which esports falls under, in Japan. While the country has been making changes for esports in Japan, so far things haven’t moved all too far. One place in particular – a central Japanese city facing the Sea of Japan is aiming to change that for their region at least.

By attracting related businesses and enabling young talent to enter the industry, they want to become a sort of mecca for esports. Lagging behind South Korea, the US and even China when it comes to esports at the moment, Japan is keen to catch up and after a recent meeting between (what we assume to be) very progressive senior Kanazawa city officials and their Busan (South Korea) counterparts, they decided that this was something they wanted to pursue.


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Like many other regions of the country, Kanazawa is seeing a lot of young people leaving the region for Tokyo and other huge cities – this is a trend that affects rural areas everywhere, not just in Japan, and it is something that’s difficult to counteract.

This new plan to draw esports into the city is intended to do just that – by attracting young people to stay or move back to the region, Kanazawa actively invests into its own future. Last August, the city set up an expert panels featuring, among others, game creators in order to turn their idea into specific plans.

The February, the panel finished its plans – they include things like celebrations of esports through universities, firms and local resident businesses. They recognized that in order for esports to take root, they would also need to encourage a few other areas of technology – the foundation for that is set as the region features many prominent IT companies and art and technology colleges.


© Kyodo News

With the foundation laid like that, the plan, which is officially called ‘Esports culture’s mecca Kanazawa’ is off to a great start – the next step is for the city to host a variety of esports related events that draws visitors and spectators from across Japan… both individuals and organizations, that is.

The games they chose for this may seem a tad peculiar to Westerners though – the puzzle game Puyo Puyo and the soccer game Winning Eleven are on the plan for this year. While it may seem like a better idea to choose Dota 2 or CS:GO, Japan has a distinctly different preference in what games are popular with gamers – Puyo Puyo Esports might just help Kanazawa achieve it’s goals!

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