The scene is Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn, overlooking New York’s East River. The occasion is the annual Next@Acer press conference, where the computer brands unveils its latest cutting edge gaming machines.
For some attendees, it is business as usual, yet another launch of yet another range of computers and laptops. For Acer, it is the beginning of a new chapter. It is unveiling its first computers designed specifically for creative professionals, and introducing a new series of Chromebooks, the low-cost devices usually made for the education sector, but this time aimed at businesses.
And it has a special guest in attendance. For Julia Robson, professional gamer, it is a trip of a lifetime.
“I could have been a dentist,” she muses, gazing at the New York skyline. Instead, she spends her days playing video games – and getting paid for it. She gave up dentistry two years into her degree, and today is affiliated with some of the biggest companies in gaming. She is at the event in her capacity as a gaming ambassador for Acer.
“I’m probably the worst person to be a role model for a career,” she says. “But I was a serious competitive gamer for three years prior to starting my dentistry degree. During my studies, I competed locally and got scouted by a brand who offered me a full-time job. It was a viable career choice for me: I did enough research to take the decision to put my studies on hold.”
It’s now been two years, and Julia says she is privileged to be able to say esports is her job.
“I am officially a professional video gamer. That means I compete at a high level in esports, locally. During this period I decided to build a gaming brand for myself, under my gaming nickname Bish. I use my gaming platform to share my gaming experiences, and also live stream to my Twitch community, where I share in real time with fans and interact with them.”
As part of being sponsored by Acer, she helps them interact with the gaming community and direct marketing strategy into the right areas. She is attending the event specifically to see what’s coming next in gaming.
“Acer approached me with the idea of collaborating not only in the sense of being a brand ambassador, but also to help them increase their knowledge of the esports and local gaming community in South Africa. I’m employed by them part-time, and I spend one day in the office and am on standby every other day.”
Her main game is Apex Legends, and at the time of the interview she was forming a team to take on the Apex Legends League.
“I see a lot of potential in the sports and feel the game will go far, so I decided to create a team with highly skilled players that I scouted at events. The dream is to go global. If we have the opportunity to compete internationally, we will work twice as hard, sleep less and game more, just to make sure we can attend.”
Julia is cautious about recommending gaming as a career.
“I would look at what options there are. I never want to say you can be a gamer and can do whatever you want. There are multiple opportunities in esports, and research will shine a light on how many available careers and courses there are that you can take to direct your passion into esports. I always recommend finding something you’re good at, still go to university or continue your studies, but look at how you can adapt your career choice into the esports industry.
“If you check out esportsobserver.com, which lets you look up jobs in esports, you will see multiple jobs posted daily for people, for example, who have business degrees but also three years’ experience in esport. Do it for the love or passion for esports, but ultimately do it with the knowledge of what is required.”
- Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee
Click here to read about the Twitch streaming experience, and how high women can go in e-sports.
Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets
Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds
Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.
South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.
Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds.
The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact.
The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users.
These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant.
Other key findings in the report include:
- Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person.
- Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school.
- Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides.
- People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services.
- There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education.
- Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information.
These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report.
Nokia to be first with Android 10
Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.
Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range.
“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”
HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.