Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) Just days after a Taiwanese team won an international video game tournament in Los Angeles, legislators across party lines have agreed to help establish cyber gaming, or "e-sport," as a national sport that qualifies for government assistance.
The consensus came after Chen Yueh-hsin, chairman of a league that promotes cyber gaming in Taiwan, and the title-winning Taipei Assassins, TPA for short, called on the legislative caucuses of the Kuomintang, the Democratic Progressive Party and the People First Party on Friday.
Chen and the TPA urged lawmakers to help lobby the Sports Affairs Council to recognize cyber gaming as a sport and establish it as a discipline eligible for assistance from the government to cultivate talent.
Chen said gaming competitions have enormous commercial potential, but more corporate sponsorships are needed to make them successful.
The government also needs to provide guidance to help professional gamers with their long-term career plans, Chen said.
Cyber gaming in Taiwan gained widespread attention after the Assassins defeated a team from South Korea in the "League of Legends" world championships in Los Angeles on Oct. 13 and took home the US$1 million first prize.
The government has heard appeals over the past week to treat the activity as a sport, and TPA leader Chen Hui-chung, said Friday that action was needed if Taiwan did not want to fall behind neighboring countries.
China's gaming industry developed later than the one in Taiwan but the Chinese government has recognized cyber gaming as a sport, he said, and neighboring countries, such as South Korea and Vietnam, have included it in their policies for cultivating athletic talent.
"We (gamers) have as much determination to win and to improve as players in other sports," Chen Hui-chung said.
The TPA was formed last year but the members could not fully dedicate their time to training until they turned professional in April, he said.
The gamer urged the government to help cyber gaming players who are still in school make arrangements when they need to take time off from school to prepare for tournaments.
SAC section chief Fang Jui-wen responded that six video games have been included in the 2013 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, to be held in Incheon, South Korea, and said his agency will assist and subsidize local competitors based on regulations covering assistance and training for athletes.
Fang said, however, that the financial grant will be a temporary rather long-term commitment because cyber gaming has not yet been recognized as a sport by the SAC.
(By Chen Shun-hsieh, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Jamie Wang)