‘Stress and pressure’ contributing to rise in youth suicide rate in Scotland, says local support group

By Heather Miller


The coordinator of Edinburgh Nightline has told EN4 News that “stress and pressure” has contributed towards a rise in suicide rates of young people across Scotland.

Suicide prevention is the theme for World Mental Health Day, which is being celebrated across the world today.

According to Samaratans, the rate of deaths by suicide among under 25s in the UK increased by 23.7% last year, reaching 730 deaths in 2018. NHS Scotland statistics also show that the suicide rate for young people has increased in the past five years.

Edinburgh Nightline is a confidential support service, run by students for students. Olivia Fahy, who is the coordinator of Edinburgh Nightline, said young people are under more pressure than ever before, and that it has contributed to the rise.

“I think it is due to a lot of reasons” Fahy said. “There is a lot of pressure about what you are going to do with your future, more than ever so before.

“I think it is so important to have these conversations and to get as many people working together to reduce those statistics as much as possible. If you are worried about a friend or concerned it is so much better to have the awkward conversation. Just talking and being open and having someone you can always go to if things are getting tough.”

World Mental Health Day: The Pill and our Mental Health 

Mental Health from Rural Perspective 

World Mental Health Day celebrates the objective to raise awareness of mental health issues globally, it allows an opportunity for everyone to be educated and understand the issues of mental health. It was first celebrated by the World Federation of Mental Health in 1992 and has been commemorated each year since on October 10th.

Mental health issues are the largest cause of disability within the United Kingdom, anyone across the globe can be affected at any given moment in their lives.

“I think days like today are really important because it’s about breaking down the stigma and having a visual awareness of mental health, and that it is completely okay to not be okay all of the time,” Fahy said.

“It’s about opening up conversations, just about the day to day wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be a big revelation, just having conversations with your friends and staff about how you are feeling.”

Gordon Ruddiman recounted an experience he had with a client while working as a community worker in Fife.


If you or someone you know needs help, FAMS can be contacted on 07736 326 062, while the Samaritans can be reached on 116 123 or at jo@samaritans.org.

If you or someone you know would like to talk to someone, please call Edinburgh Nightline on 0131 557 4444.

Mental Health from a Rural Perspective

By Laura McCulloch

In the UK one farmer every week commits suicide because of a mental illness. 90% of people suffering with poor mental health in the agricultural industry find the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness more difficult to deal with than the diagnosis itself.

The ‘Are Ewe Okay’ campaign aims to break the stigma surrounding mental wellbeing for young farmers based in rural Scotland. The Edinburgh based initiative is ran by the Scottish Association of Young Farmer Clubs (SAYFC) and targets 14 to 30-year-olds.

SAYFC National Committee member, Lucy McClymont, knows first-hand the vitality of the campaign in rural areas: “We have more members than ever discussing their feelings and thoughts. We are now seeing SAYFC clubs’ complete challenges to raise money and awareness for the campaign. In my home region, Are Ewe Okay has become more important than ever after we recently lost a valued member due to poor mental health.”

Are Ewe Okay has found that many mental health campaigns are targeted towards the masses, usually within urban areas. As a result, they are working towards expanding their reach.

Lucy continued to highlight the importance of raising awareness across the country: “I don’t think urban areas fully understand what goes on in the farming community. High quality British produce is expected on plates every day, yet I feel many forget the process behind it.

“I strongly feel there needs to be more transparency between the rural and urban divide.”

World Mental Health Day: The Pill and Our Mental Health 

‘Stress and Pressure’ contributing to rise in youth suicide rate in Scotland 

In an attempt to shed some light on the severity of rural mental illness, the campaign conducted research into the triggers which are common amongst sufferers.

Results indicated that 67% of respondents had experienced career linked depression, 22% had suicidal thoughts and 12% reported self-harming behaviour.

Infographic by Elise Kennedy

SAYFC’s 3500 members organise events based on the slogan to ‘listen, talk and share’.

This includes the European Rally, where 80 people from 15 European countries came together for a week to discuss the challenges of living in rural locations.

Image by Steph Burch

Scottish member, Abby Forsyth, discussed her recent experience at the rally: “I learnt how important it is to look after our own mental health but also how fortunate Scotland is to have the Are Ewe Okay campaign. Some of the countries had nothing set up to help their young farmers.”

SAYFC research has shown that many farmers find it hard to admit to when they are struggling in their work. However, the campaign is encouraging a more open discussion on mental health within the industry.

Abby continued: “Young farmers are finally beginning to open up about their struggles and admit they need help. This is a huge step in the right direction towards combatting the stigma of mental health.”

The campaign’s future is looking bright, according to Lucy, who has plans in place to introduce a mental health first aider into every young farmer’s club across Scotland: “Our aim is to continue preventing rural isolation. The importance of speaking is invaluable and after all, its okay not to be okay.”

For more information visit:https://www.sayfc.org/talks—support



World Mental Health Day: The Pill and Our Mental Health

By Beth Murray

It is no secret amongst women that the little pink pill so many of us take every day comes with some nasty side-effects. One of the most common being anxiety and depression and sadly many of us suffer with this in silence.

The introduction of the pill in the 1960s was a revelation. Initially it was only available for married women with the consent of a doctor, but it wasn’t until 1974 that it became readily available on the NHS for women across the UK. This allowed women to use sex for pleasure, rather than just a way to procreate.

Despite the unfortunate side-effects which accompany it, the pill remains the most popular form of contraception in the UK despite there being over ten different variations available.

Infographic by Elise Kennedy

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, in 2016, 19% of pregnancies among young women under the age of 25 were unplanned. Contraception is vitally important in the UK to ensure that that rate doesn’t rise.

Mental Health from a Rural Perspective 

‘Stress and Pressure’ contribute to rise in youth suicide rate in Scotland 

Personally, I have been taking the pill on and off for the past five years. When I was 16, I was prescribed Triregol, a combined pill which contains two different types of hormones. The pack is designed to mimic your normal hormone levels throughout your menstrual cycle. In general, I didn’t notice many side-effects while I was taking it.

My first experience of the pill impacting my mental health came when I moved to start studying at university. I was switched from Triregol onto the notorious Rigevidon pill. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this particular pill is known for its horrendous side-effects. Rigevidon is one of the cheapest pills for the NHS to prescribe which makes it the most commonly used across the UK. Last year, a petition to ban Rigevidon gained more than 27,000 signatures.

Infographic by Elise Kennedy

The NHS describe Rigevidon as identical to its pricier counterpart, Microgynon, despite thousands of women experiencing intense symptoms like depression and blood clots, that aren’t caused by the more expensive alternative.

I took Rigevidon for two months over Christmas three years ago, and they were the worst two months I have ever experienced.

I was miserable. I spent days in bed crying over nothing. I would have panic-attacks worrying about being lonely. I once cried for almost an hour because I couldn’t get a lump out of my duvet; it wasn’t healthy. I thought I was failing as a student, I had just left home, I thought everything should be fun all the time. It hadn’t crossed my mind that there was something else causing my poor mental health.

I can’t remember what made me think to question the impact the pill was having on me, but once I did, it felt as though a piece of a jigsaw had been found.

I stopped taking it and within one week it was remarkable how different I felt. I was essentially back to normal; happy and in a healthy mindset. Taking the pill had warped my mind into a depression which overshadowed every aspect of my life.

After this, I made the choice to take a break from contraception and after a few months returned to my original pill, with seemingly no side-effects.

Infographic by Elise Kennedy

Three years on, after a contraception free summer, I started taking Triregol again last week. Within four days, I could barely bring myself to get out of bed.

Lately I’ve been very active, waking up early, going to the gym most days. However, this week, I have cancelled all my yoga and exercise classes and instead lay in bed for hours staring at the ceiling.

Day six was when I realised what was happening. I was up and about, the day was going fine until I tried to register for a new doctor: there was a six to eight week waiting list. This left me completely flat. I walked home feeling like the day was ruined. As I reached my door I struggled to unlock it – the restaurant below us places plants which partially block our entrance – and it reduced me to tears. After walking up the stairs, I walked into my flat and noticed that the lightbulbs in the bathroom has been replaced meaning we would no longer be using the toilet in the dark, more tears.

I lay on my bed unable to move. I had so much to get done but no motivation. As I lay there, I was staring mindlessly at nothing, when I noticed the little pink  packet.

Six days was all it took for the contraceptive pill to completely take over my mind. Two days on and I have been prescribed a different one. For the next two months I am going to be hyper-aware of any changes in my mood or attitude.

I am conscious to remain mindful and wary in case there is more to the issue than the contraceptive I have been taking. Recognising what is causing the problem for people on contraception is the biggest step. Poor mental health and depression is such a delicate issue which manifests in so many different forms.

There has been concern over whether the continued popularity of the pill is down to a lack of knowledge of other contraceptives, rather than a desire to specifically use the pill.

For anyone using, or considering using any form of contraception, not just the pill, I would encourage awareness and checking in with yourself and how you are feeling. Contraception being readily available for free in the UK is such a privilege that many women in the world don’t experience.

Everyone is different, don’t settle for something that leaves you feeling low, investigate your options and fight for your mental health.


Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency responded to the concerns over Rigevidon saying: “The benefits of any combined hormonal contraceptive far outweigh the risk of serious side effects – prescribers and women should be aware of the major risk factors for blood clots and the key signs and symptoms, which are clearly described in the package leaflet.”

EN4 News has contacted Rigevidon for a statement on this story. 

Rethink Mental Illness

NHS support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm)

Website: www.rethink.org


Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)

Website: www.mind.org.uk



The UK’s largest provider of relationship support.

Website: www.relate.org.uk

Too Good To Go hits Milestone with over 1 million meals saved across the UK

By Beth Murray

Launched in the UK in 2016, the app Too Good To Go has a focus to combat global warming by reducing food waste. Globally, the organisation has saved 21,440,629 meals from being wasted since its launch.

Hayley Conick, UK Managing Director said: ‘While we are thrilled to have hit this milestone, the 1 million meals saved so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Seven million tonnes of edible food is wasted in the UK every year and we are on a mission to change this.’

The concept is simple – cafés, restaurants, hotels and bakeries sign up to the service in a bid to reduce their food waste. Members order a Magic Bag from the café they fancy and pay a significantly reduced price, usually between £2.30 and £4. The bag is made up of a selection of surplus food which would otherwise be thrown away at the end of the day.

Image by Beth Murray

Pirlous café, on the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, is one of the dozens of establishments in the city that use the service. They provide a magic bag costing £3.39. One specific bag contained two full baguettes, each valued at £4.50.

While picking it up, the manager, Jackie, gave some thoughts on the service: ‘In terms of food waste, it does save us from throwing away a lot. However, occasionally we find ourselves losing money as we have sold out of food during opening hours, which means we are making up fresh food for the bags.’

She went on to explain that while she agrees with the goal of the company, it has flaws which are often overlooked: ‘When the rep first came in, we were told they would provide us with all of the packaging we would need, that hasn’t happened so now we have to consider how much money is being spent on packaging the food.’

Jackie also expressed worries that expectations of consumers can often be too high: ‘People need to remember that while they may have expected more food, they are still getting a significant reduction and food which is still fresh.’

Food waste in Britain is a growing problem with over 10 million tonnes of food being thrown away every year. Last month alone, Too Good To Go saved 116,619 meals in the UK.

To put it into perspective, when one baguette is thrown away it is the equivalent of wasting a bath full of water. Saving one meal saves the planet from 2.5kg of CO2 – CO2 being one of the leading causes of global warming.

beth too good to go - Subbed

In a survey conducted by To Good To Go in March this year, it was discovered that almost 69% of UK adults do not know the extent to which food waste contributes to global warming.

Too Go To Go have set a Global Movement with a series of aims to meet by 2020. These include increasing the number of app users, encouraging more businesses to get on board, educating young people on the importance of valuing resources and fighting labelling policies across supermarkets and business as expiry dates are the cause of 10% of all food waste across Europe.

They are currently working on a food waste movement specifically aimed towards the UK. This will include new figures, content and tips to help more people across the UK understand the importance of reducing food waste in the fight against climate change.

Scottish fashion detox now conquering America

Image by Erin Kirsop

On the 18th of February 2019, I scrolled through Instagram, as I always do and came across a sponsored post.

“Fashion Detox Challenge, 10 weeks, no new clothes, last day to sign up!”

Whether it was my newfound interest in slow-fashion or my empty purse begging me not to spend another penny on yet another jumper, I’m not sure but I, along with around 30 other brave souls, signed up. I didn’t realise it would take me on such a life-altering journey.

The Fashion Detox Challenge was set up by ex-fashion designer and Glasgow Caledonian University PhD student Emma Kidd as part of her research into ‘Transitions in Clothing Consumption’ after witnessing first-hand, as a fashion designer in South East Asia, the social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, also known as ‘fast-fashion’.

The challenge itself is designed to be as inclusive and supportive as possible with a voluntary forum to post about your journey as you go and to gain support from your fellow detoxers. Laugh all you want, but as a recovering shopaholic, this feature was key to my perseverance. Alongside 70% of the UK, I would quite often buy one new item of clothing per week and like the rest of the UK, my clothes would last me an average of 2 and half years. Who am I kidding, mines were lucky to last me 2 and a half months.

This isn’t uncommon – once you begin to pull yourself away from the clutch the fashion industry has on you, the fog begins to clear and the trance you’ve been in since the day your mum stopped buying your clothes slowly begins to break.

The UK Fashion Industry is worth £26 billion and employs over 800,000 people, making it the largest creative industry in the UK according to the British Council. In 2018, we as a country spent £58.4 million on clothes alone, and yet people are shocked to find that it is the second most polluting industry in the world, right behind the oil and coal industry. But why do we spend so much on clothes if it is so damaging to our planet, not to mention our bank accounts?

Well, because we’re told to. In my 10 weeks of detoxing, I unsubscribed from 28 promotional mailing lists, unfollowed 32 fast-fashion accounts on social media and avoided fast-fashion stores like they were my ex after a bad break-up.

The lengths I and everyone else had to go to just to avoid the pull of the fast-fashion trance speaks volumes. People are beginning to wake up from their hypnotic shopping habits and because of challenges like The Fashion Detox Challenge; it’s becoming so much more than taking control of our spending.

The New York Times recently mentioned Emma and her challenge in their article ‘How to Buy Clothes That Are Built to Last’ and since then, Emma has seen a massive increase in sign-ups from all across the globe. She said;

“I’m blown away by all the interest and support that we have received since being mentioned in the NYTimes! We had thousands of website hits and well over 100 new Fashion Detoxers sign-up from all over the world in just 48hours – from as far away as Hawaii and Australia!”

Asking her how she feels now her small Glasgow-based challenge, that was only ever planned to be a one-time thing, is now being done across the Atlantic:

“For me this response shows just how ready people are to review their shopping habits, and it expresses the growing number of people who are becoming fed-up with being collectively encouraged to mindlessly buy more and more ‘stuff’. I think this international interest reveals the scale of issues we face in relation to over-consumption, however, it also shows the potential for human-scale global change!”

With hundreds of people now taking part, Emma’s research project has far surpassed any expectations. People around the world now meticulously sifting through their wardrobes in an effort to dress themselves in the morning for the next 10 weeks are most likely unaware of the impact they are having to the environment through the small act of simply re-wearing instead of buying. With websites and apps like ‘Depop’ and ‘Re:Loved’, second-hand shopping is no longer something your Granny does in the local charity store, but a way of keeping clothes out of landfills as well as putting money in your pocket.

An article by The Guardian  claims that clothing has been the fastest growing waste stream in the UK over the past 10 years with a predicted 235 million items expected to have ended up in landfills in 2017. I am glad to announce that that number is slowly in decline with more people consciously donating their clothes as opposed to binning them like they have in previous years.

A Fashion Detox participant, Maggie Huminiecka, who took part in the first Fashion Detox Challenge said that 10 weeks without shopping has had a lasting effect on her shopping habits in an interview with The Nine.

“Before the challenge, I was buying online without even really realising. I had so many clothes, I didn’t need them, I didn’t wear them and I didn’t enjoy them. It became a habit.”

So clearly giving up buying new clothes helps more than just your wallet, now the only question that is left to ask is; what will I waste my money on now?

Edinburgh in Autumn

By Laura McCulloch

Nobody will argue with the beautiful Autumn foliage that Edinburgh has to offer, and as the new season descends on the city, here are our favourite events on the calendar. We have got you covered with everything from fire to farming festivals.

Edinburgh Cocktail Week

Image by Erin Kirsop

Scotland’s largest Cocktail Week pours back into the capital in just under two weeks time, from Monday the 14th to Sunday the 20th of October.

Offering a more unique experience this year, ‘Camping with Cocktails’ will transform the festival square into an enchanted forest fit for cocktail enthusiasts. The new extension includes wigwams, fire pits, giant toadstools, pop-up bars and a starlit canopy.

The rooftop cocktail domes at the Glasshouse Hotel are another addition to the festival this year, providing Instagram-worthy views across the city’s skyline.


Edinburgh Sausage and Cider Festival

Back on the menu this October is Edinburgh’s Sausage and Cider festival on Saturday the 19th. The event at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange boasts live music, a selection of craft beers and ciders, eating competitions and of course a selection of sausage meats from around the world.


Scottish International Storytelling Festival

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival returns on the 18th to 31st of October across various locations in Edinburgh, including the Scottish Storytelling Centre and the Royal Botanic Gardens. The annual celebration of live storytelling has described itself as ‘a warm,
friendly, invigorating experience, perfect for Autumn evenings’. This year’s theme ‘Beyond Worlds’ will showcase new and traditional stories, communications, music, dance and Canadian headlining acts.



Image by Sheila McColm

As part of an unsteady industry, Agriscot 2019 offers a chance for the country’s agricultural community to seek answers to the countless questions that farmers may share.

Now recognised as one of the premium events in UK agriculture, the Highland Hall in Edinburgh,
overflows every year with farming enthusiasts, as well as people curious to learn more about the industry.

A parade of Britain’s finest livestock, talks from industry professionals and trade stands from across the country will take centre stage on Wednesday 20th of November.



West Princes Street Gardens will be transformed into a traditional Oktoberfest venue from 30th of October to 3rd of November. Aside from the beer, this event invites friends to celebrate food and drink and enjoy traditional live music inside a marquee fit for 1,200 people. Annually known to be extremely popular, this authentic experience offers student deals as well as Bavarian and VIP packages, ensuring there is something for everybody.


Festival of Politics

The Scottish Parliament is welcoming a variety of leading public figures including Andrew Marr and Baroness Helena Kennedy to the 2019 Festival of Politics. Taking place from Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th of October at the Scottish Parliament, the event will focus on
future debates about important political and cultural issues. From Brexit talks, to the 2020 US presidential election, this is an opportunity for the Scottish public to contribute alongside MSP’s, journalists and commentators on some of the country’s largest issues.


Samhuinn Fire Festival

Image by Erin Kirsop

This fiery extravaganza perched on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill is a perfect way to get into the Halloween Spirit. The thrilling display is a modern replication of the Celtic New Year celebration, which presents a mythical story about the changes of Summer and Winter. Get
ready to wrap up this October 31st to watch dancing, drumming and acrobatics among other performances at the Samhuinn Fire Festival.



Sober October brings in its first million of 2019 – is Scotland in dire need of a break from alcohol?

Sober October is back to challenge people to take a month off the booze, however latest government reports show that a month may not be enough to tackle Edinburgh and Scotland’s toxic love affair with alcohol.

From the 1st of October until the 31st of October 64,329 people (and counting) will embark on the yearly challenge of taking a month away from alcohol to raise money for charity.

Beginning in 2013, Sober October was created by Macmillan Cancer Care in partnership with Australian fundraising campaign Dry July to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. This year’s challenge has seen the campaign raise more than £1.2 million in total. The challenge itself says that the benefits of an alcohol free lifestyle will give participants a ‘clearer head’ and a ‘sense of achievement’ for taking part.

Sober October may come at a time when many Edinburgh residents might want to reconsider their drinking habits due to a report published by the Scottish government that found that the capital had the highest number of hazardous drinkers in Scotland. A report by the Edinburgh Evening News found that 33% of Edinburgh residents drank more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

The Scottish Government’s Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol strategy report for 2019 found that 23,494 people in Scotland were admitted to hospital with an alcohol related diagnosis. This is four times higher than it was in the early 1980s.


Monitoring and Evaluating Scotlands Alcohol strategy report figures showing that Scotland still sells a high amount of Alcohol per adult compared to the rest of the UK.

The report also stated: ‘in the most deprived areas of Scotland, rates of alcohol-specific deaths were more than seven times higher and alcohol-related hospital stay more than eight times higher when compared with the least deprived areas.’

The report was not all negative for Scotland, as it found that only 23% of alcohol was sold in Scotland for less than 50p. In contrast with 51% in 2015, it is clear to see that the Scottish government is trying to combat Scotland’s difficult love affair with alcohol. Despite this, it will take more than just one Sober October to iron out the issues highlighted in the Scottish governments latest report.

Podcast: Tattoo talk



Kelsy Karter’s fake Harry Styles tattoo caused quite a stir. (Photo credit: Instagram/kelsykarter)



Earlier this week, singer Kelsy Karter released a photo of her new tattoo of Harry Styles on her cheek. She then revealed that it was simply a publicity stunt to promote her single ‘Harry’. What do we think about face tattoos? Listen to Luka Kenyon, Olivia Hill and Linnea Lind as they discuss all things tattoos.





Museums over meditation for under 30s?

Visiting museum and gallery spaces seem to be a more popular way of dealing with stress and anxiety than mindfulness or mediation, according to a recent study conducted for a national arts charity. 

The report commissioned by the Art Fund at the end of last year showed 63% of people under the age of 30 would visit a museum or gallery as a way of relieving stress or anxiety, the same percentage that talking to a friend or family member received.

In response to the report, that found under 30s to be one of the most stressed generations, Art Fund have decided to increase the age for their under 26 national passes to under 30, allowing for a larger number of people to benefit from discounted exhibition entrance fees.

A spokesperson for Art Fund told EN4 News: “We give around seven million pounds a year at the moment, a lot of that which is facilitated through our national art passes.”

This change was launched earlier this week but is already said to be being “well received” they said.

They also said that the report as a whole showed “those who visit museums and galleries on a regular basis are more likely to have lower levels of stress and anxiety than those who have never visited one.”

The results found by the report, Art Fund believe, have further solidified the existing research around the benefits exposing oneself to arts and culture on a regular basis can have on a general wellbeing.

Museums and Galleries, with their cafes, bright open exhibition spaces, and interactive displays, are used for numerous activities that could lead to an increase feeling of wellness.


National Portrait Gallery. Photo by Megan Merino


Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow. Photo by Megan Merino


But it may not only be the act of going to these spaces that can be beneficial to mental health. Instillations around Scotland are tackling themes of mental wellness and self reflection to allow for an even more introspective cultural experience.

A current exhibit at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art aims to allow visitors to reflect on their feelings and state of mind through an interactive light instillation.

EN4 news spoke with curator of the HappyHere exhibition Màiri Lafferty.

Màiri Lafferty, Daskalopoulos Curator of Engagement at National Galleries of Scotland.

HappyHere uses an interactive board to allow visitors to answer seven questions that are then presented in the form of light and colour on a custom-built screen for an abstract visualisation of the thoughts and feelings associated with the responses.

The instillation is inside the Pig Rock Bothy, a small space in the grounds of the Modern Art Gallery.

Credits: There will be no Miracles Here- Nathan Coley       Everything Will Be Alright-Martin Creed 

Despite creating a space that facilitates self reflection, Màiri added that it was not the job of a curator to force emotions on the visitor, but instead to allow the space for a personal experience and interaction with art.



Another new Edinburgh based exhibition addressing the theme of wellbeing is Beings at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery opening on February 2.

We spoke to Richie Cummings, Outreach Officer at the National Galleries about the upcoming exhibition that will display the artwork of young people as a response to other pieces in the National Galleries’ collection.














Moving Zwiftly into the future

In the ever-changing world of technology which is increasingly relied on for convenience, things are taking a turn for the physical in eSports. Gone are the stereotypes of gamers being couch potatoes who lounge in their man caves, there’s a new breed of gamer and they are drastically different from the ones you might think you know.

August 29, 20184_30-6_00 PMRoom 204

Credit Jade Du Preez.

But gaming has come a long way – the 70s was the golden age of the arcade game which actually forced gamers to leave their homes and game in public, the 80s saw tech like the ZX Spectrum and Commodore VIC-20, 8-bit computers that you could code your own games on (you plugged it into your TV!), then the 90s saw more handheld gaming with the Game Boy console finding a new niche in the market, then the turn of the century ushered in the most popular age of gaming and eSports captivated the world.

eSports is different from just gaming at home – you take part in a tournament that is often live streamed to people around the world, and not just anyone takes part, it’s normally always the upper echelon of players who battle against one another. It’s the cream of the crop and there’s normally a lot of money at play.

The prize pool for Dota 2’s The International 2018 tournament was over $25 million and people have been making a living out of eSports gaming for years now, and that looks like it’s going to stay as Fortnite creators Epic Games are looking to offer $100 million in prize money for tournaments during the 2018-2019. Dota put $38 million in for the previous season ($25 million of that going into the International 2018 tournament).

There is serious money backing eSports, with millions at stake, and that’s a drastic change from when Dennis Fong (also known as his gamer tag of Thresh), recognised as the first professional gamer, was playing Quake and Doom. Over his career, he made roughly $16,000 and famously won a Ferrari 328 that was owned by id Software CEO John D. Carmack. The players who finished 17th and 18th in the International 2018 tournament made $63,830.00 – that’s almost four times Fong’s entire career winnings.

But where are things changing? Yes, gaming has become a spectacle watching by many and held in huge arenas, but where does it go next? The answer could be helpful in cycling and running video game Zwift. It allows users to connect their turbo trainers (stationary bike technology that gathers data on performance) to their account and cycle indoors whilst playing the video game which simulates a world. You can connect with friends across the globe to cycle together and the video game aspect comes with power-ups (short performance enhancing the character on screen).

So, if eSports was like a game of chess, Zwift is like playing chess whilst on a bicycle peddling up a steep hill – not easy at all. The video game really comes into its own when Zwift introduced their eSports league – the KISS Super League – which enables four Pro Continental, nine UCI Continental teams and two Zwift community teams to race each other for 10 weeks on Wednesday nights.


A Zwift spokesperson told EN4News: “We are now in an exciting position because we are able to connect the Zwift community with the lofty heights of the professional peloton. KISS will be a demonstration sport, illustrating how we can do this – the KISS Super League will provide high octane action for spectators worldwide featuring some of the best riders in the world.

The KISS League, however, provides an accessible eSports league for the rest of the Zwift community to compete in. It’s important that we recognise both ends of the spectrum. This is just the beginning for Zwift – we have big ambitions and will be unveiling our big plans for 2020 in the very near future.”

Is this the future of eSports gaming? Gaming whilst physically racing on a bike is immersive and highly skilled, incredibly addictive to watch and possibly one of the coolest new steps for eSports. You might not physically be able to defend yourself from demons and the undead like Dennis Fong did in Doom, but you can conquer volcanos and Alpine-like mountains in Zwift. Ushering in a new age of fit gamers, Zwift’s contributions to eSports are ones to watch.

If you want to hear more about gaming from the EN4News team, check out Liam Mackay’s Review of Battlefield V!


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