Participants of the “We are Together. Sport” Forum discussed the development of phygital sport in Russia and shared the expectations of the “Games of the Future”

Participants of the “We are Together. Sport” Forum discussed the development of phygital sport in Russia and shared the expectations of the “Games of the Future”
Category:SportGames of Future
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1 March marked the second day of the “We are Together. Sport” Forum held in Moscow’s Gostiny Dvor. Digital transformation in the field of sport, particularly, a new, international-scale tournament “Games of the Future” to be held in Kazan in 2024 was the key topic. Business program of the Forum featured the Deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko and the Minister of sport of the Russian Federation Oleg Matytsin.

Second day of the Forum kicked off with an official note – ceremony to start the celebrations the 100-year anniversary of the state authority in the field of physical culture and sport. The panel discussion “Games of Future: made in Russia for the next generations” the participants deliberated the prospects of the sports areas at the nexus of the online and offline formats, assessed the outcomes of the first Phygital Games series – competitions in phygital disciplines taking place in 2023 in the run-up-to to the central international tournament scheduled for February 2024.

Among the Forum speakers were the Deputy prime minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, Minister of sport Oleg Matytsin, Head of the “Games of Future” project Igor Stolyarov, Director general of the ANO “Digital Economy” Sergey Plugotarenko, Director for digitalization of the “Rosatom” SC Ekaterina Solntseva, General producer of the Match TV channel Aleksandr Taschin, and the VK vice-president for strategic projects Rustam Khaybullov.

Plenary session started with the welcoming speech delivered by Dmitry Chernyshenko, “Nowadays we may observe an absolutely new way the content is being consumed and citizens are developing in all spheres of life. This is a crucially new way of thinking that cannot be ignored. In fact, Russia is acting as an initiator and creator of the answer to the need of uniting sport, technologies, and education existing in the society.  And for the first time in the history of mankind Russia is bringing in an international second-to-none tournament. We know 29 countries have confirmed their interest in participating in the tournament and we are confident they will be many more. We are witnessing a huge interest both within our country and international community. Directly supported by the President and government of the Russian Federation, the project will undoubtedly achieve all the set goals and grant the marketing value for the project sponsors not only existing but also sponsors-to-be.”

Oleg Matytsin pointed out that the session dedicated to the “Games of the Future” is one of the key events within the business program at the “We are Together. Sport” Forum, “We can see that today digital technologies are invading nearly all the spheres of our lives. And sport certainly shouldn’t stand aside. All modern achievements in sport are connected with the use of digital technologies. We are actually the driving force in this area, as phygital incorporates sports principles. Here I don’t mean an opposition or any competitive battle but making harmonious the relations of digital technologies and real sports as well as engaging the youth into this movement. Since we see that the youth is now oriented by the use of digital technologies to a great extent, we shouldn’t let them leave the real sport.”

Having listened to the honorable guests, the speakers shared their expectations of phygital sports and “Games of Future” and held a discussion over the first outcomes of staging the competitions in phygital disciplines, such as phygital football, phygital basketball, Beat Saber, drone racing, and others.

“We’ve already held fair amount of sporting events in a phygital format in 2022 and 2023. Despite the fact we are just testing the disciplines, the audience is growing rapidly. What we gave our spectators both in the field of play and virtual space is vivid emotions. And now we see that traditional media is excited about such formats. This implies that a new high-tech sports show will be sought after with this idea gathering not only an enthusiasts’ community but fans as well,” noted the head of the Games of Future project Igor Stolyarov.

VK play games platform has been streaming and covering the series tournaments. “The “Games of the Future” project is appealing to us first of all from the perspective of the format that engages a new audience to the VK Play. Integration with Warface is a perfect example – it has become one of the disciplines along with the laser tag at the latest editions. As part of the training and test competitions it has brought together over 180 teams, which is a high rate for the tournament like this. This discipline let us fulfill the broadcasting and promo activities that enabled our audience to get access to the training process,” commented the VK vice-president for strategic projects Rustam Khaybullov.

According to the general producer of the Match TV channel Aleksandr Taschin, phygital sport will make the television open up new fascinating formats for their viewers. It will positively impact the growing interest in the streams and will engage more youth. “Every year the audience of traditional sports gets older. When we were first told about such an ambitious project as the “Games of Future”, we got so excited, because first and foremost it’s the rejuvenation of the audience. It’s a reasonable step towards the evolution of conventional sports, and moreover the trend of TV and media consumption implies the audience’s need to get new content every day. So phygital sport allows us to get it. During the test events in Kazan we were broadcasting and making unique streams. For example, it was the first time we used the special sensors fixed on the weapon that transmitted the athletes’ health data, quantity of cartridges, scored points. All this was integrated into graphics in real time and shown to the viewers,” highlighted Aleksandr Taschin.

Director general of the ANO “Digital Economy” Sergey Plugotarenko assumes that phygital movement will make the market of high-tech games develop, “Today, the government begins actively investing a good deal of money into the content production, including the gaming one. National market is not lagging behind either; Russian gaming platforms are advancing: thus, the VK holding launched a gaming VK Play platform last year and now regularly extends its functions. There is a human resources competition: the number of programs in the game dev education is growing and their quality is enhancing. All this has a long-term perspective. Today the gaming market needs a helping hand but not new regulations to be demolished,” the speaker noted.

Business stakeholders also had a chance to share their expectations of the “Games of the Future”, “Winter Olympics 2014 were that infrastructure project, which opened the way for the creation of an absolutely fantastic sports and recreation cluster having changed the life in our country. I do believe that “Games of the Future” will have no less impact on the society’s development and economy in Russia. The very fact that the “Games of the Future” idea originated in Russia is exemplary: Russia had a lot of breakthrough ideas that were later de facto commonly accepted across the world. In this view, I reckon the “Games of the Future” is one of the examples like these. Therefore, from the very beginning “Rosatom” has agreed to support it. This will really help our country advance in the most various areas,” director for digitalization of the SC Rosatom Ekaterina Solntseva pointed out.

In conclusion of the discussion Igor Stolyarov underlined, “Our task as the “Games of the Future” organizers is to create the community of likeminded people, unite the advanced companies able to look further behind the horizon. We offer the partnership to those who are creating the innovations even today, developing new industries, introducing new jobs, investing into the education and harmonious development of a human and society in the digital era. “Games of еру Future” platform empowers to test brand new mechanisms of engaging the audience and promoting its brand in new formats. For sponsors and commercial companies, we provide for unique opportunities, which are missing in conventional sports tournaments, for instance, the opportunity to build the logos right into the game or internet stream. We certainly propose to put together physical and digital experience. In 2023, phygital arenas will be integrated into the largest youth events, phygital centers are expected to open in over than 30 regions. During the tournament in Kazan in 2024, besides the sports playgrounds, there will be a whole “City of Future” – unique site for technological, media, and cultural innovations will greet hundreds of thousands fans and guests of the Tatarstan capital.”

“We are Together. Sport” Forum annually brings together the leaders of sports industry, entrepreneurs, representatives of sports federations, and heads of regional authorities. Speakers and participants establish the priority areas to develop the Russian sport as well as raise the topical issues for the industry. This year the forum was held from 28 February to 1 March. Over the two days, more than 100 speakers performed before the attendees, while the total number of events exceeded 20.