Speaking at Keio — Professionalism

Meeting with researchers is fun. Part because I used to be one of them and did professional research for living and part because my very nature is someone who likes to speculate — it’s all about sound, plausible speculation, right?

So in that sense, visiting the Keio Taiiku Conference@Keio Hiyoshi Campus was fun. My talk was part of a luncheon session organized by Kato-sensei whom I’ve been working since last fall for the grad-level esports course that we provide at Keio (it’s continuing as an undergrad-level for this fall semester by the way). Another guest speaker was Kawasaki-san from Playcare, an Bandai-Namco spinoff based in Kanagawa that does wide variety of activities in the area of healthcare (they own a nursing home) and entertainment (such as games). The three of us already had given a joint seminar together at another event called Sportec in July, kudos to Kawasaki-san’s invitation, and Kawasaki-san and Kato-sensei has been part of the KPMG esports curriculum initiative — clearly we are holding each other’s back but in a positive and productive way.

I was told that the conference itself is probably the oldest and the largest sports conference in Japan and as Kato-sensei says, hosting an esports session is the very first time in this conference history. The venue was packed with about 200 people.

Interestingly, Kato-sensei also invited a few professional esports players in the session. There was FIFA (a popular soccer game by EA sports) put on large screen during the session and anybody could join to play against the professionals (and instantly belittled by their play…). All in all I’d say it was an unprecedented session and turned out to be a great success.

One thing on hindsight though. The professional players were briefly interviewed during the session with the question “what kind of training do you go through to become a pro player?”. Now considering that these guys are what, maybe a college kid or younger and haven’t had much media, public speech experience in their life yet, maybe we need to understand the situation better. But the first guy said right off the bat, “I don’t train much because I do it as entertainment”.

Now this may be true and I’m not saying he should lie for something he does not do. What I am saying is more about the delivery of the contents, so called “sounding professional”. It was by no means an interview by a “professional”, as I perceived, and I think we can do better. This is important because these so called pro athletes set the bar for social perception, such as parents and potential stakeholders like a corporate sponsor. Such thing matters for the general public, especially for a country like Japan that is suffering through the negative connotation of “gaming”.

Well, gotta keep trying.

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