Jason Spiller, owner of New Zealand-based esports team Dire Wolves, explains why corporate partners such as Neosurf should not be seen as just financial sponsors, but more as responsible contributors to the whole esports ecosystem.
Given that nearly two thirds of New Zealand parents use gaming to supplement their childrens’ education, as revealed in the 2020 Digital New Zealand Report, Spiller believes that esports should now play an increasingly important role in building positive ‘Digital Citizenship’.
“We teach young people how to behave in a face to face context at school, but we don’t teach them how to act in online situations,” he said. “Esports often generates positive pieces of behaviour, good sportsmanship and outstanding agile leadership qualities. The opportunity we have through esports is to develop these skills in creating a positive digital culture.”
As a commercial partner to Dire Wolves, Neosurf recognises its part in the equation. Most parents are reluctant to open their credit cards to their teenage offspring and look to payment options such as Neosurf to control spending.
So, brands like Neosurf have an extensive reach into the target market and the ability to influence. Which is why it is important that partners should embrace the Neosurf philosophy of ‘Putting the people of the Esports community first’.
With most esports professionals past their best by age 30, Spiller cites wealth management and post-gaming career development as two areas of specific focus alongside ‘online social behaviour’ as the areas that need to be addressed.
“At the highest level substantial amounts of money can be made by relatively young people who need help in managing their future,” he explained. “But even those whose esports career has been less lucrative need support on their follow-on career in the same way that mainstream sports people do.”
The academy structure which is now starting to develop in New Zealand and Australia is seen as very positive, albeit at a smaller scale than is already established in the US.
In New Zealand, Waitaki University leads the way with esports education, with high schools now integrating it into their curriculum. Recently, Spiller has driven the opening of the Spark NZ Hub in Eden Park, Auckland to create a central esports location.
Support from partners such as Neosurf in driving the education elements is key, but equally important are the actual components that the partner brings.
The security and responsible approach that Neosurf has embedded in its payment platform, and the global reach that it generates helps to fuel the whole esports ecosystem in a safe way, connecting players from around the world.
Spiller added: “Connecting players around the world is extremely important, as building networks and connections is frequently cited as one of the main benefits of gaming in younger generations, and this has never been more important than during the pandemic.”
Going forward, building relevant and cooperative partnerships is seen as the way to establish esports as a key contributor to the education and livelihood of future generations.
Andrea McGeachin, Neosurf Chief Commercial Officer, reinforced this view by saying: “We are very serious at Neosurf in putting people at the heart of what we stand for.
“We absolutely see ourselves as part of the gaming ecosystem rather than just a way to make payments, and our close engagement with the Dire Wolves team, and the Pacific gaming scene specifically, is a good example of how we believe partnerships can really contribute to the growing esports world.”