NESDC advises promotion of e-sports for development
The government is being advised to promote and upgrade systems for e-sports, a promising new business that produced 22 billion baht in revenue in 2018.
Chutinat Wongsuban, deputy secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said the government should pay more attention to helping e-sports by supporting game developers, offering them assistance and tax measures.
"E-sports has been increasing in popularity over the past decade in Thailand," she said.
"The local game market and e-sports are growing steadily."
In 2017, there were 18.3 million gamers in Thailand, accounting for one-fourth of the population, while spending on the game market tallied 22 billion baht in 2018, which ranked 19th in the world, up from 19.7 billion in 2017.
There were 2.6 million viewers of e-sports competitions in Thailand last year. That figure is expected to increase by 30% by 2021.
In 2017, the Sports Authority of Thailand approved the certification of e-sports as a sport type that can be registered as a sports association, according to the Sports Authority of Thailand Act 2015.
The NESDC together with Research Center for Social and Business Development recently conducted an e-sports survey in Thailand among 2,155 children and youth aged 13-24 years, and 1,051 parents of children aged 13-24.
The survey spanned seven provinces -- Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Khon Kaen, Songkhla -- and included 404 e-sports participants.
The study found a promising trend for e-sports business in the overall economy.
The business creates careers and other related occupations such as game casters, game reviewers, commentators, referees and competition organisers, and creates opportunities and motivation for children and teenagers who enjoy the games, encouraging them to be more creative.
In foreign countries, measures help determine the type of game (ratings), control advertising and public relations, and supervise e-sports participants and competitions.
Thailand does not yet have a law on e-sports.
There is only a ministerial regulation on the permission and operation of video stores under the Film and Video Act 2008 that controls game cafes by defining the duration of the play time and the use of children in the cafes.
In addition, unlike films, gaming content does not have age ratings.
The study also warned that e-sports may be addictive for children and can lead to negative health effects, mood and behaviour, such as back pain, body aches and eye problems.
Other negative impacts include gambling and career instability. The growth of the gaming market may affect the trade balance because money will flow to countries that have game developers or copyright owners.