Senegal - Africa - Sport - Technology

African esport, beyond clichés

APA-Dakar (Senegal)

Despite its professionalization, gaming faces persistent prejudices on the black continent.

"Gamers are not very social". This is just one of the many labels that stick to video game enthusiasts. "As a professional gamer, I train very hard to achieve my goals. But I still have a good time with my family and friends. It's a life balance that I have to find," says Papa Adama Fally Thiam, known as Addexx.

 

There are a number of preconceived ideas surrounding gaming in the world. These stereotypes have a deterrent effect on its acceptance by society. In Africa, much more than in the West, video games have a negative connotation.

 

"Some people think it's only for children, it's violent and it's mind-numbing. We always try to see the bad side of things, but our generation has learned to speak English and has acquired historical knowledge thanks to video games," says Baba Dioum, president of the Senegalese Gamers Association (Sengames).

 

This thirty-year-old knows what he is talking about. Co-founder of Solo esport, the only professional club in Senegal, he grew up surrounded by consoles in a family where even the parents allowed themselves moments of relaxation. "The players are just like everyone else. We have a lot of executives who are in big companies. There are also profiles whose lives revolve around esports or gaming," argues the digital technology specialist.

 

At the Sengames headquarters, nestled in a residential area of Dakar, a range of video game activities are offered to members. For one category of children, it is a place of socialisation.

 

"They may have been born into families that keep them a bit too much at home. With Fortnite, for example, they can chat with other Senegalese of their age who are playing at the same time. Places like Solo esport allow them to meet these virtual friends and build relationships. There are age classifications too. A child can't play everything," Dioum emphasises.

 

Esport, i.e. the competitive practice of video games, helps to break down clichés: "We had a 16-year-old player who was supposed to participate in an Orange tournament. His mother didn't agree at first. When her son received a cheque for a million CFA francs for his performance, she came to collect it before taking her child home," he recalls. The teenager in question now combines esports and studies.

 

Created in 2010, the community of gamers in Senegal is growing stronger with marriages between members. "This is great", says Baba Dioum, not without listing the virtues of his passion.

 

"Scientifically proven, video games help to manage stress. When the planet was in lockdown because of Covid-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended gaming to combat depression. It channels emotions and develops creativity. For many designers and graphic artists, it offers a new perception of colours, visuals and a real creative experience...", says the manager of Solo esport.

 


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