MNM co-founder on Asian representation in esports: “I think the British Chinese have been really unrepresented, so it gives me more reason to choose what I’m putting into the MNM brand”

ESNUK Article

Image credit: DLC Studios

Kalvin Chung aka Kal, co-founder of UK esports org MNM Gaming and creative agency DLC Studios, has called for greater Asian representation in esports.

Kalvin was speaking as part of a careers panel organised by jobs platform Hitmarker and university esports body NUEL, hosted by Alex Swan.

“So obviously Britain has a lot of history in other countries, and it once owned my home, Hong Kong. I was born in Ormskirk (near Liverpool) in England, because England is so diverse and so accepting,” he said.

“But I would say recent events outside of the esports space and the political climate have shown that people aren’t always being represented that well. I can’t speak for other groups because it would be disingenuous of me, but as an Asian I would say we’re not represented that well.

“I don’t think Asians are represented too well considering that apart from myself and my brother, and my business partner Sammy in DLC, there aren’t actually many Asians in managerial roles or very key roles in British esports at all. There’s probably just a few – but not many – and that’s kind of sad to see. I don’t know why that is exactly. We’re not showing different people that can be involved in esports, whether Asian or not.”

“I think UK esports brands should show more diversity in what they do, considering how diverse the UK is. There’s lots to explore, like different phrases we use locally, or even just a different style of artwork.”

Kalvin Chung, MNM Gaming

The conversation of representation and diversity has seen a greater focus within esports and the wider world over the past few years. With the Black Lives Matter movement last year, the esports space has seen prominent figures talk about that and about women, transgender rights, anti-Asian hate, violence and racism and more.

Anti-Asian hate crimes in the US increased by nearly 150% in 2020 and, specifically in the UK, there are many examples of people of Asian descent being attacked in the UK. Some attackers have shouted ‘Chinese virus!’ at their victims, a phrase coined by former US president Donald Trump when referring to intelligence suggesting coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China.

“Recent events, especially COVID, have dampened down spirits,” Kalvin added. “It’s definitely dampened mine, which is why I think the jersey and changing MNM to a more British Chinese identity was even more important. I think you should be proud of who you are, no matter where you are.”

Last year, MNM Gaming announced they would be at the forefront of Asian representation in the UK esports, to celebrate Kalvin and his brother Daniel’s roots.

“For MNM and myself, I’m a British Chinese, a dual-citizen and so is my brother, so for us it’s important to represent Britain and China,” Kal said. “I can’t represent what it’s like to be French because I’m not French.

“Recently, I think the British Chinese have been really unrepresented, so it really gives me more reason to choose what I’m putting into the MNM brand. I was very worried, I didn’t think a lot of people would like [the jersey]. Obviously that’s an example of me where I really searched into the history of Britain and China, as well as Hong Kong.”

Kalvin also mentioned how others in esports could better celebrate and reflect the UK’s diversity in their brands.

“I think UK esports brands should show more diversity in what they do, considering how diverse the UK is,” Kal added. “I think different parts of the UK have different cultures. There’s lots to explore, like different phrases we use locally, or even just a different style of artwork.

“There are so many different cultures for example, [UKLC and NLC caster] Jamada is a Jamaican Londoner, right, and he has own whole different language.”

“Maybe we just need small elements or small words to show regionality in teams, it’d be really cool. Seeing everything is just London is not the only thing in the UK/in Britain.”

At the end of the panel, Kalvin also signed off on a poignant note: “Be nice to each other, and embrace difference and diversity. Because I’m a product of difference and diversity.”


‘We should work together to build something that allows individuals and groups to speak up against racism’ – Kalvin Chung

We spoke to Kalvin after his panel to further explore issues such as racism he’s experienced or seen in his long tenure within the UK esports circle.

“We’re at a critical point in a growing industry. We need to build every aspect of the UK esports scene with strong foundations, and that includes systems to address diversity and racism.

Racism and discrimination is growing more than ever with increased hate crime against Asians across the Western world. This is a subject I hold dear to my heart, and I think it’s a subject that is not taken seriously enough in UK esports or is even ignored.

There are no systems in place to address racism in the UK. If a player, manager or caster, and tournament organiser encounters a racist incident, then what? There is no plan to ensure a fair, systematic process. I’ve seen very few organisations and their respective managements speak against Asian hate, and that is just disappointing because it just further shows that Asians are systematically and culturally overshadowed.

“The current state of UK esports lacks any infrastructure to properly address racism and even prevent it. I have come across racist incidents in my career and the reality is there is nowhere to turn to have the issue solved professionally and appropriately. I am sure other individuals have come across similar issues in their professional career too, and we should work together to build something that allows individuals and groups to speak up against racism.

I hope we build an industry that is kinder to each other, and one with equal opportunity for all.”


‘The world right now needs less people who know everything, it needs more people who know empathy’ – opinion from the author

megalodontus

Megalodontus shares their views on the topic.

“Firstly, say no to racism in any form, any time and any place. Racism has no place anywhere, and esports being a growing industry, should weed it out at its roots as effectively as possible. Period.

We have already seen an instance of racism rear it’s ugly head last year with former coach Josef Kolisang. He was the bigger man and chose to forgive. I don’t know what I would have done in his shoes.

I’ve seen so many arguments online saying the current trend of crimes against Asians are exaggerated, similarly to those who diminished the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve seen people downplay the need for representation in esports and use the same rehashed argument of: ‘If they are good enough, who cares about skin colour?’

This is strictly not true. I’ve had friends from minority backgrounds turned down the moment they’ve been requested to do an interview in person, despite being very qualified, because of how they look. And that’s not even in esports.

My harsh opinion is this: The current generation who are raised on a steady diet of fandoms, news and social interactions on the internet do not listen enough. Too many speak too much and far too loudly, on topics they don’t know enough about, over people who have actually experienced these incidents. It’s incredibly hypocritical that many of them want to teach and preach, but are unwilling to be taught in exchange.

There are many who are suffering or have suffered, or are in fear due to all of these happenings so please, be gentle. Sit down, keep quiet and just listen. Don’t judge them on your own personal compass of bias, just listen. Humbling yourself does not diminish your worth as an individual.

The world right now in my opinion needs less people who know ‘everything’. It just needs more people who know empathy.”

Further reading: In-depth interview with DLC Studios’ founders Kalvin Chung, Daniel Chung and Sammy Lam

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