Netmarble organises large-scale esports event for disabled students
Esports, when compared to regular sports, has a lot of potential to be far more inclusive for disabled participants. While for example a wheelchair-bound person couldn’t possibly compete in a World Cup football match, there is no reason (in principle) they couldn’t compete in an esports FIFA match. Despite this, there are actually very few esports teams that actively encourage disabled players to join, regardless of whether or not their disability actually impacts their ability to play the game.
Perhaps in recognition of this, Netmarble set up an event especially for these great players that may have been passed over in favour of others: The 2018 National e Festival Competitions for Students with Disabilities started in Seoul, South Korea on the 4th of September.
Netmarble worked together with the Korea Creative Content Agency or KOCCA and the National Institute for Special Education NISE in order to organize the two-day event. This isn’t Netmarble’s first foray in this field either: They’ve been hosting events of this kind since 2009. This year’s event however really takes the cake – it’s the largest event of this type in history.
1500 students made it to the event in Seoul, after going through qualifiers between May 8 and July 20th. Divided into two categories, the kids compete either in esports or general information technology. This includes 16 events in total, such as Word, Excel or even coding. As for the esports games in the competition, they aren’t the most popular games there are in the world, and include Netmarble games like Magu Magu, Penta Storm and the board-game Everyone’s Marble.
The general director of NISE, Kim Eun-suk spoke out in favour of this initiative: “The event has cultivated many talented students. Like them, I hope participants to this year’s event can nurture not only their abilities in computer science but also socially, I believe the event can help them to overcome possible obstacles in their lives.”
Visitors at the event got to join into the fun too – after all the event is all about inclusiveness: there were drone racing events, robot football, virtual and augmented reality devices and even retro arcade games.
Since the e Festival is all about inclusiveness, and towards everyone, the competition was open to disabled as well as non-disabled students – the able-bodied were not excluded from competing, be it via rule or bias. Truly an exercise in progress, this is esports at its finest.
The sad reality is that, at the moment, esports is not living up to its potential in regards to inclusiveness – both when it comes to disability and to other matters like gender and disposable income that can be needed to travel to events. Hopefully bigger international events like the Overwacth League for example will take note of this initiative and follow in Netmarble’s footsteps – it would be a shame if esports didn’t manage to fully exploit its potential of being open and inclusive to everyone rather than being as exclusive as other forms of sport often are.