'Ideas have changed': Parents more welcoming of gaming as a career now, esports team CEO says

'Ideas have changed': Parents more welcoming of gaming as a career now, esports team CEO says
Team Flash CEO Mark Chew looks on as Jankurt "KurtTzy" Russel Matira (left) and Jaymark "Hadess" Aaron Thomas Lazaro practice Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
PHOTO: Moonton Games

When he graduated with a sports degree two decades ago, Mark Chew faced doubts aplenty.

"They would say, 'A sports degree, are you sure? Is it useful? Can you earn big bucks?'" he recalled in an interview with AsiaOne earlier this month.

Today, Mark?is the co-founder and managing director of Reddentes Sports and their esports counterpart, Redd+E, as well as the Chief Executive Officer for Team Flash, a local esports team.

This 46-year-old feels that change is on the wind.

"I think ideas have changed," said Mark?about the mindsets that people have towards gaming. "I think with passion people will naturally go further because they like what they do."

"I've seen very encouraging parents [of kids who want to go into gaming]?- of course, some parents have reservations but I think over time, when we manage to talk to them and share with them, they understand."

Although more parents are more accepting of their children gaming nowadays, Mark also hopes more parents can do so gradually.?

When he attends talks at schools, some fathers approach him with questions about how they should connect with their children.?

Replying, he'd say: "It's not how they connect with you, but how you connect with them."

Explaining this phrase, Mark recalled how his father bonded with him by bringing him by taking him to watch football games.

"Go and find out what your son is doing by watching their games, you don't need to play every day… just understand them and watch.

"From there, they will start talking to you, and you can connect with them."

Being the 'cool' dad

His advice is one of personal experience, he also revealed to AsiaOne.

A father of two daughters, one 18 years old and another 15, Mark had helped his older daughter with her Primary School Leaving Examinations six years ago.

At the time, they also had the eGG Network - an esports channel - up on their television, which was broadcasting a game of League of Legends.

At the time, he wasn't into games and didn't know what he was watching so he asked his daughter about it.

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In response, his daughter very matter-of-factly explained what the game was about, also telling him that there's fresh content about it on YouTube every day and that all her friends talk about it.

Mark realised then that he was out of touch - not only because he didn't understand the game, but also because he couldn't connect with his daughter.

He began to consume more content about gaming, including the mobile game popular among youth, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB), so that he could connect with his daughters.

Mark said: "After that, when my kids tell their friends that I'm [leading] an esports team, they'll say, 'that's quite cool'."

An unexpected windfall

It wasn't just his own kids that he was able to connect with by learning more about games - Mark also found small successes outside of home.

When he was visiting a friend for dinner about three years ago, the latter's son came up to greet him.

"His mum told him, 'Hey, uncle Mark is doing esports!'" Mark said. "He suddenly became interested, asking me what I do. So I told him what teams I have in Vietnam, and we sat there and talked for one-and-a-half hours during dinner."

Just a week later, Mark received another invite to his friend's home, which was completely out of the norm - he would usually only visit once every few months.

Curious, he asked his friend why he was suddenly being so amicable, to which his friend replied: "No, my son wants to talk to you!"

'Communication is important'

As the CEO of Team Flash, Mark also?interacts?with parents whose children have begun their esports journeys.

For Team Flash's Keith "Vanix" Lim, his mother at first held reservations about her son joining Mark's MLBB team.

Speaking with Lim's mum, Mark assured her that her?19-year-old son?would be in safe hands, in a conducive environment for training and practice.

"With Vanix, I think a lot of people have seen how he has become more confident over the last 18 months.

"He's a boy who's usually a bit shy, a bit quiet, but I've been speaking with his mum and she'd actually like to thank us that his son has become more confident after competing on a professional level," Mark said.

Taking on the world

This year, Mark's Team Flash has a new talent who will join them in the upcoming Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL) Singapore.

Yeo "Diablo" Wee Lun, 25, previously from Team Flash's rival RSG Singapore, has switched sides in hopes of attaining a victory with Team Flash.

In October last year, Team Flash managed to defeat RSG Singapore despite fielding a semi-pro roster. However, the team ultimately fell in the group stages of the M5 World Championship.

With more time committed to the game this year, Mark hopes to push the team further up the ranks.

"It's a journey… I think what we have with this roster definitely could put up a strong challenge and represent Singapore well."

Acknowledging the obstacles of team chemistry and familiarity with one another, Mark also added: "Let's take it a step at a time. Let's qualify first by winning MPL Singapore and continue to grow on this journey together."

Qualifiers for MPL Singapore Season 7 begin on March 30, with the regular season in May.?

In June, the playoffs will see the top six teams play for the crown.

ALSO READ:?'2 years can do a lot': MLBB pro Brayden Teo pauses esports career as he enters NS

khooyihang@asiaone.com

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