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News Navigator: What are esports?

This June 1, 2018 file photo shows a scene from Clash Royale League Asia, featuring the game "Clash Royale." (Mainichi)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about esports, which have recently entered the public spotlight.

Question: What are esports?

Answer: "Esports" or "electronic sports" are a form of competition involving multiplayer computer games. Esports require quick reflexes, the power of concentration and strategy -- the same skills required in regular sports. An attraction of esports is that people can participate on a level playing field, regardless of physical features, age or sex.

Q: What kind of genres are there?

A: Genres include multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA), in which players make up teams and battle each other for territory; first-person shooters (FPS), in which each player fights against many others on a battlefield; fighting games, where players control characters in one-on-one fights; and sports games such as soccer and baseball. The world's most popular game, "League of Legends" is believed to have more than 100 million players.

Q: Is the level of esports in Japan high?

A: The United States, China and South Korea have the upper hand in all genres except fighting games, which are largely made in Japan. One of the reasons for this is that video game consoles, including those made by Nintendo Co., are very popular in Japan, while personal computer games, which form the mainstream for esports, have yet to gain a firm footing. The Japan esports Union was established this year. The organization is trying to win wider recognition for esports in Japan, and has founded a professional license system and held a competition with big cash prizes. There are even technical schools which have courses for those aiming to become professional gamers.

Q: So there are professionals out there?

A: Yes, there are. It's not uncommon for professional players to train for more than 10 hours a day. They make a living from game prizes, remuneration from their teams, funds from sponsors and event performance fees. There are many professionals overseas whose earnings have topped 100 million yen. In Japan, companies such as Nippon Television Network Corp. and Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. have formed professional teams.

(Answers by Keisuke Hirano, Digital Media Division)

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