By the Perimetres of some of Brazil’s Most Diverse Cities are neighbourhoods that wind up steep hills and stretch for kilometres.
Brazil Esports is Unlikely Source Hope:
These communities typically have a shaky layout, with houses crammed up against one another in no discernible pattern, and just narrow, poorly lit streets connecting them. Thousands of young Brazilians live in the favelas, where they spend hours upon hours practising esports in the hopes of becoming famous.
In Brazil, traditional football clubs like Vasco da Gama and Flamengo have begun assembling esports squads in games like League of Legends and Pro Evolution Soccer in anticipation of a market that is expected to exceed $1.5 billion by 2023. While the finest sportsmen take home millions, professional League of Legends players earn an average of over $400,000.
The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics estimates that around a quarter of the Brazilian population lives in poverty. This represents a huge social divide in an already very unequal country. The Gini index (used by the World Bank to evaluate inequality across countries or groups of people) indicates that social inequality in Brazil has worsened in recent years. Almost half of the people in some areas, such as the Northeast, have to get by on less than $2.10 each day. The esports scene in the country is a reflection of the country’s broader socioeconomic divide.
A lot of people in the favelas don’t have easy access to the internet or high-quality equipment, two necessities for any esports player or streamer. When every second counts, having poor internet or antiquated hardware can be disastrous in a highly competitive setting. People from the “asphalt,” or middle class, who live outside of poor neighbourhoods and look down on those who live in the “favelas” due to the latter group’s access to better education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.
According to a Survey Done in 2015 By Agência Brasil,
The government’s main news agency, the vast majority of Brazilians living in the suburbs are terrified to travel near a favela and associate the term “favela” with violence and drugs. However, 65% of people living in the favelas reported experiencing bias from those in the asphalt.
Numerous challenges must be conquered before esports athletes from the favelas can even think about competing. From fleeing bullets from disputes between criminals, traffickers, police, and even militias to using the internet via cell phone data and a dependable connection.
Gaming’s Role in Leveling the Playing Field
Raffael Simo, or “Dexter” as he’s known in the game, is 25 years old and comes from a low-income area in the outskirts of So Paulo. He had a rough upbringing but eventually made it to the point where esports club Zero Gravity signed him last year to be their Fortnite streamer (although he also competes in tournaments). Before that, he worked as a porter from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., waking up at 5 a.m. to get ready, doing everything “amateurishly,” in his words, and relying on the financial backing of his family to buy equipment.
Dexter had a tough time making ends meet. His wife needs to undergo hemodialysis because of a renal condition. He tweeted in September 2019 that he “was seeking for aid to get a health insurance plan for my wife because with the salary I was earning I could not afford.” The Fortnite community banded together and assisted. He wanted to increase the quality of his streams and acquire more exposure in the Fortnite community, so he registered with Zero Gravity.
Projects and Rivalry: a Cup of Change
Glauber Molinari and his wife, Hanna Rocha, established Zero Gravity in 2019. Their goal was to be like any other esports squad, with one key difference, as Molinari puts it: “We only hire young slum dwellers and those with limited income.”
We saw that there was a barrier to entry for young individuals from low-income backgrounds in the competitive environment of esports. This led us to the conclusion that we should establish our group as a charitable endeavour.