Buddhist Monks Win eSports Tourney

If you need to see further evidence of the growth and development of eSports then look no further. Inclusivity is such a hot button topic, we live in a mostly progressive society where it no longer matters what the colour our skin is, or what our gender or sexuality is. In a recent tournament, the open nature of modern society was in full display as the tournament’s victors were a collection of Buddhist monks.

The group of Buddhist monks turned up in their traditional attire. If you are picturing the flowing orange robes, you are right on the money. As were the group who ended the tournament victorious.

The competition took place in Thailand and was held at Khon Kaen University’s Nong Khai it ran for three days between the 15th and 18th of August and was quite unique in a lot of respects, not least of all the eventual winners!

The tournament was geared at high school children and featured several popular mobile titles. The eventual winners were in their final year at Balee Sathit Suksa high, renowned for teaching Buddhist monks and now I guess also gaining notoriety as a hub for up and coming pro-gamers!

Obviously, there are lots of school globally that have a religious slant. This is not something that is unusual, but it is fairly cool that the school’s academic coordinator also carries the moniker of “head monk”. He was obviously delighted with his students, who exceeded his expectations. He was quoted as saying, “They wanted to try entering the competition, so we gave them that opportunity. However, we didn’t expect them to actually win.”

Busy Buddhist

It might be surprising to think of a trainee eSports time comprising of Buddhist monks. But they actually have a relatively normal school career outside of the religious aspects. It is worth noting that they do devote an impressive 20 hours every week to their religious studies though. Can you imagine British kids doing that much RE? There would be riots. Their exposure to the world of competitive gaming came through their information technology lessons and the work clearly paid off.

Winning the game

The game that the students competed in was the classic mobile racer, speed drifters. If you have yet to check it out, please do so. Be warned it is a total time sink!

Controversy

When the winners were announced the decision was met with controversy. While most people would accept that a person’s religion shouldn’t play any sort of part in whether they can take part in a tournament. There were some in attendance who thought they should have disrobed to collect their award. This seems a bit exclusive. Firstly, let’s be honest here, the traditional Buddhist attire is cool! Also, surely a person’s right to wear religiously significant attire shouldn’t be affected because they won a video game contest? I guess, like with some physical sports, eSports will have to find ways to combat prejudice.

Their teacher, however, kept a cool head and helped steer away from that particular minefield with the sort of reasoned response one might expect from an educator stating, “The novices are just children, like other people their age that need to grow, develop their skills and explore their interests,”

“We wanted to give the students an opportunity. A lot of them don’t have that coming from poor families or broken homes, The three want to compete, they asked to. So we gave them the opportunity.”

While there were other schools representing various religious groups it was only Balee Sathit Suksa who won. It is great to see diversity, even if it is unexpected and not entirely accepted, these sort of things will help break down barriers. Just like recent tournaments aimed at those who are physically less able, this is great for the industry.

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