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Online battles keep elderly ahead of the game

By Wang Qian | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-04 06:32
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Yang Xiurong and her daughter Wu Sijia livestream as they play the video game. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Multiplayer challenges are not just for the young as older generations join the action, Wang Qian reports.

Communicating over a headset with her fingers flying across the keyboard, Yang Xiurong, 53, is a formidable participant in the popular multiplayer online battle arena Honor of Kings, also known as Arena of Valor.

Teamed with her daughter Wu Sijia, 29, Yang made a name for herself in a suitably combative tournament held in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, in 2022.She was awarded the title of the most valuable player in a match for her outstanding performance operating the support hero Yaria during the event.

"Just like square dancing, mobile games are a way of entertainment, which should not be limited by age. For people who are getting old, like me, we can still feel young," Yang says.

She has gone viral on microblogging platform Sina Weibo after her passion for the video game made national headlines. The story was viewed more than 35.6 million times. A netizen named Chenxi comments that it is "the ideal life after retirement".

Early last year, sponsored by food delivery platform Meituan Waimai, Qin Yuliang, 53, Ge Xiaoxiang, 56, Zou Xiaodong, 60, Fang Weihua, 56, and Yang as the captain, set up their team called Xiyanghong (Sunset Red) to play against young gamers across the country. Receiving a month's training from coach Zhou Haoqi, they were invited to compete against a professional team — the Hero Jiujing E-sports Club in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, in April last year.

Although they lost the game, Xiyanghong's performance on the online battlefield still challenged the competitive gaming stereotypes of esports seen as a young man's game, with professional players considered "over the hill" in their 20s.

For Yang, "what matters is not winning or losing, but the happiness that the team enjoyed together in the game".

With gaming selected as an official medal event at the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games, the country's video game player population grew to a record 668 million by the end of June last year, according to statistics from industry association China Game Industry Group Committee.

There have been long-standing arguments about whether or not children and adolescents should be allowed to play video games. While many Chinese parents strictly control their children's screen time in the internet age, Yang's case provides a different perspective on how parents and children can bond through video games.

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