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Education, Env. Protection, Miscellaneous

Singapore Players among the Top Ten in the Environmental Education E-Sports World Cup

What were players from 10 to 61 years old vying for on the same field? For the first time in the history of Tzu Chi, environmental protection and disaster prevention were promoted through an e-sports competition.

Tzu Chi Singapore holds the Tzu Chi x PaGamO Environmental Education E-Sports World Cup Finals at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre on 27th March 2020. (Photo by Chai Yu Leong)

The Tzu Chi x PaGamO Environmental Education E-Sports World Cup Finals, which brought together e-sports players from six countries, was held on 27th March 2022, while the Singapore event took place at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre. After an intense competition, three Singaporean contestants stood out among 145 contestants and were named the top ten finalists.

Three local players took the eighth to tenth places, namely Samuel Swee Jin Quan (8th), Lee Hui Sze (9th) and Hua Mei Fung (10th), respectively. The other seven winners were all from Taiwan.

The teachers, relatives and friends of the players watch the live game and the review in the waiting area. The broadcasting of the ranking order by the host intensifies the atmosphere of the competition. (Photo by Chan May Ching)

The contestants of this e-sports competition constituted players from six countries, namely Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United States and Canada. The local event was organised by Tzu Chi Singapore and supported by SG Eco Fund under the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment. Only Singapore and Taiwan held the events onsite amid the pandemic. 

In addition to the e-sports competition, nine environmental education booths and an e-sports mock competition zone were set up outside the actual competition zone. The event saw the visitation by nearly 500 people where public members had fun learning through educational games while many parents were at the site to learn with their kids. The event was like a carnival with various activities and a high volume of visitors.  

An Eco Awareness Event that Draws a Crowd of Five Hundred People amid a Pandemic 

Over the years, Tzu Chi has been raising public awareness of environmental protection by setting up community recycling points, providing environmental protection education tours at its Eco-Awareness Centre (no longer in operation), advocating resource classification and promoting a plant-based diet. Organising an e-sports competition was the first attempt to achieve the same objective. On the event day, the representative of the National Environment Agency, the representatives of junior colleges, principals, members of Youth Corps Singapore and the representatives of Label for Recycling, a non-profit organisation, attended the finals and cheered for the contestants.

Singapore and Taiwan are the only two countries to hold the events physically amid the pandemic. Through the live broadcast, attendees in Singapore virtually participate throughout the event, from the opening ceremony to the award ceremony at the Taiwan venue. (Photo by Pua Poo Toong)

The CEO of Tzu Chi Singapore, Low Swee Seh, anticipates that children can learn about the importance of environmental protection in a fun way and further implement environmental protection in their lives. (Photo by Chai Yu Leong)

In the opening speech, the CEO of Tzu-Chi Foundation (Singapore), Low Swee Seh, expressed his excitement about holding this large-scale physical event after the pandemic. However, he added solemnly that many children are confronted with ruthless wars, climate disasters and food and water crises. While we enjoy our happiness in Singapore, we should also take up the responsibility and learn to co-exist with the earth.

Low Swee Seh anticipated that environmental education could begin from childhood - children can learn about the importance of environmental protection in a fun way and further implement environmental protection in their lives. "Let us slow down climate change so that children can grow up in a safe, healthy and clean environment."

On the day of the finals, the organiser presented an award to thirty finalists from Singapore. The finalists received a certificate and fabulous prizes or cash vouchers worth a total of S$2500. Tzu Chi held a four-day preliminary online competition in November last year. The response was overwhelming with nearly 400 people participating in the game. In the end, 30 finalists with the highest scores from Singapore advanced to the world final.

30 finalists from Singapore, aged 10 to 61, taking a group photo with the guests after receiving their prizes in the preliminary competition. (Photo by Chai Yu Leong)

Learning Environmental Protection with E-Sports Receives Affirmation from Educators

During an interview, Madam Ng Cheun-Yin, Principal of Nanyang Girls' High School, affirmed the practice of combining e-sports with education can make the curriculum lively and innovative and also spark kids' interest in learning.

She said, "We always take video games as entertainment and find no educational value in them. If we can use games to attract young people to learn while playing, it would be very effective as games can make people feel particularly excited - it is a learning motivation."

Madam Ng also opined that the content of this game was informative. Students could learn extracurricular knowledge that was not taught in the classrooms, and even adults could benefit from it and expand their horizons.

Samuel Swee, a former secondary school geography teacher, was placed eighth in this international competition, achieving the best result among the Singaporean players. He graduated in geography from the university and has been concerned about environmental issues for a long time. After learning about the competition through a subscribed e-newsletter, he came up with the idea of participating in the competition. 

As a former teacher, he shared similar views as Madam Ng Cheun-Yin. He believed that incorporating games into classroom teaching can improve learning motivation. He said, "Many questions in the item bank, including earthquakes, environmental protection and so on, are taught in school, so Singaporean students have mastered certain knowledge. I believe that students will be happy to play games in class."

Despite obtaining good results, Samuel Swee felt that he could have performed better. He said, "If there is another competition like this next time, I will participate in it again."

Learning is no longer limited to textbooks but has turned into a lively and engaging e-sports mode. A Tzu Chi youth is seen experiencing the game challenges attentively at the mock competition zone. (Photo by Chan May Ching)

A Player over Sixty Years Old Advances to Finals despite Being Unfamiliar with Technology

"I didn't like playing games at first as I found it unhealthy. If one becomes addicted, it will make people stay up late." In order to undertake the task as a volunteer, Kang Cheok Sai, the oldest contestant in Singapore, took the bull by the horns and participated in the competition in the beginning. However, he gained experience afterwards and also advanced to the finals in the end. It led to a change in his stereotype of e-sports games.

Kang Cheok Sai, 61 years old, is a Tzu Chi environmental protection committee member. Although he only played video games once when he was young and possessed basic computer skills, he convinced himself to put his old concept aside and learned to play games diligently to help his team promote the e-sports game.

He laughed and said, "I just forced myself to play. And while I was playing, I thought, 'Hey, it is quite interesting.' The more I played, the more I found it interesting. In the beginning, I was a little afraid of losing, but I kept playing and slowly advanced to 26th place from more than 50th place previously.”  

Kang Cheok Sai stood out among about 400 contestants and advanced to the finals with 26th place. He changed his view on e-sports games, "I picked up a lot of knowledge from the game. I need to possess a certain level of knowledge so it would be easier for me as an environmental protection committee member to share eco knowledge with others!"

After taking part in the competition in person, 61-year-old Kang Cheok Sai completely changed his mind about e-sports games. (Photo by Chai Yu Leong)

Making Good Use of what Kids Love to Add a New Force to Environmental Protection

Besides the competitive e-sports game in the venue, there were also environmental education booths closely related to the nine themes of the game. One of the booths was curated by students from the Republic Polytechnic School of Technology for the Arts, together with Youth Corps Singapore.

Apart from fun games and point collection to exchange small gifts, Tzu Chi volunteers provided explanations enthusiastically so more people could imprint the knowledge of environmental protection and disaster prevention in their minds. For example, teaching the catchy "ten fingers mnemonic", showing map teaching aids to simulate the crisis of sea-level rise in Singapore vividly, passing on tips to save 140 litres of water in five steps, and so on.

In addition to that, the event was also open to the public to participate in four mock games to experience its excitement.

Coincidently, the monthly class of Tzu Chi Teenagers' Class (also known as Tzu Shao) in Singapore was scheduled on that day. Hundreds of Tzu Shao came to pass the levels to collect points and take part in the simulation games. Many kids had a lot of fun at the carnivalesque event. They interacted and learned together. It was educational and entertaining, and it introduced environmental education to the young to cultivate a new force to protect the earth.

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