At a time in which Esports is exploding and interest is rising, Iceland's potential to benefit from this new market lies mostly untapped.
This article will highlight why the remoteness of Iceland may be beneficial for growth if certain conditions are met. The nation's current state in terms of internet coverage and available frequency spectrum could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the country.
The importance of high-speed internet penetration is often overlooked by those unfamiliar with the field and discipline. This is quite surprising as companies are now realising that fast internet connection speeds will be crucial to stay competitive, especially since the growing number of online gamers is accelerating rapidly.
This has led to a surge in demand for high-speed internet, as well as other data related services and products.
This increase in demand will allow the country's telecom sector to become lucrative again by offering new needed services that can be sold over expensive undersea cables. The added infrastructure would benefit not only the telecom providers, but also domestic companies who need access to better infrastructure and digital services at competitive prices. Another positive side effect of increased internet penetration is the ability for businesses, both large and small, to develop innovative business models based on online sales through platforms such as Amazon or Ebay. This would have an incredible impact on retail sales all around Iceland (currently generated primarily from tourists) which would help reduce unemployment rates across the nation.
The demand for high-speed internet is also a great opportunity to ease the country's reliance on tourism. The country with the most natural attractions in the world attracts more than 2 million tourists per year, but there is always room for improvement.
Apart from the nature aspect of Iceland, it is still considered one of the least "technologically advanced" countries in Europe and North America by many people (archaeologists not included). This fact makes it very suitable as test bed and playground for new technological solutions which can later be used around the globe. The growth of IoT (Internet Of Things) devices such as smart fridges or thermostats created massive opportunities for tech companies who are working every day to improve their products and make them even more effective and consequently, competitive/The same can be said about cloud computing services that use fast internet connections as a foundation for new solutions to better manage and store data. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technology-driven change that will take place in Iceland over the next 10 years as demand for high-speed internet rises.
The growth of esports also presents tremendous opportunities for improvement if properly addressed by Icelandic authorities. The country has not been receptive so far although esports were recently recognised by a global sports industry group specifically created to improve recognition and adoption among both gamers and tournament organisers alike. It is quite surprising but understandable considering that there are no national or international players representing Iceland at the moment which could be due to the lack of infrastructure available in the country. This is something that should be considered by decision makers because there are a lot of young people in Iceland who would love to compete on higher levels but can't due to simple fact that they don't have access to better conditions such as training rooms and practice computers/gaming consoles combined with internet connection speeds necessary for playing online competitively. It might be easier for authorities to start from grassroots efforts which is what I assume the first steps should be when constructing new esports-related initiatives.
In my opinion, a small scale project using local talent could work well in partnership with existing national sports organisations and schools. The players could receive coaching and mentoring from professional gamers, while at the same time helping the schools with their online presence. In return, the schools would help fund the esports training rooms and other facilities necessary for dedicated practice.
Financial support from local authorities could also be a great incentive for young people hoping to become professional gamers as they could receive additional financial aid which should guarantee that they can focus on their passion full time rather than having to go through multiple part-time jobs while studying at school . This type of programme/project is not much different from any other existing sports initiative in Iceland but has one key difference – it deals with a new kind of sports discipline that was previously unknown to Icelandic people who are now entering uncharted waters when it comes to esports and gaming in general.
The growth of technology and its adoption around the world create many opportunities for new ventures and activities. Although Iceland is considered technologically deficient compared to other countries, it still possesses the necessary talent needed in order to keep up with current global trends.
The country's spirit of innovation has been proven time after time as it managed to build a modern infrastructure from scratch within a very short period of time despite its financial limitations. If properly addressed, esports could become another example of this impressive ability while also helping young people explore their potential in various fields related to game development and online sports competitions.