When 73-year-old Harry opens his gaming PC, he becomes “Dirty Harry”

Attitudes to Esports and gaming are changing across all age groups.

Written: Jun 2020

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The ground floor of the home Harry Mälkki (73), shares with his wife Hannele in Finland has been used sparingly since the last of the family’s four adult children left home. Apart, that is, from one room, bedecked with a wall-wide bookshelf and a desk with a computer and headphones.

It’s at that desk in the room that Mälkki refers to jokingly as his “man cave”, where he sits to launch the first-person shooter game, Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

“A hand grenade is a really powerful weapon if you want to destroy an enemy hidden somewhere. Similarly, a smoke curtain, if you need protection,” Mälkki explains as his character moves stealthily through a series of narrow back-alleys. 

The Grey Gunners

Harry Mälkki’s game room, or “man cave”, is located on the ground floor of his two-story house.

Mälkki belongs to the Esports team, Grey Gunners, coached by Otto Takala, who also coaches the Finnish Esports national team. The team’s average age is 74.

“We train together or at home remotely, and for two summers we attended tournaments playing against pensioner teams from other countries. A year ago we played against the Jämsä Paintball CS: GO team. Their average age was 14,” Mälkki laughs.

Mälkki, who plays under the nom de guerre, Dirty Harry, isn’t the only member of the team with their own gaming moniker. The group includes director Ulla “General Ulla” Ström, Kari “Rock” Walden, Yrjö “Ice” Warma, and Markku “Mac 10” Puska.

A change of scene

While gamers such as Mälkki can look back at a long career of gaming, the sport continues to attract new fans and competitors all over the world, especially now. In the neighbouring country of Norway, the Covid-19 crisis has seen football games switch from pitches to screens as social distancing restrictions make close-contact sport untenable. 

Just this April 128 teams, comprising a total of 990 players, battled for the Norwegian championship title in Fifa Pro Clubs, a new eFootball cup arranged by the Norwegian Football Association. 

Lack of contact football has led to a boom in the gaming version of the sports. Pictured here: the 2019 eFootball tournament. Credit: Norway Football Association.

Are you not entertained?!

Mats Theie Bretvik, head of Esports and gaming at the Football Association, says they have seen a marked increase in the number of players involved during recent weeks, describing the waiting list of players eager to join the Norwegian championship in Pro Clubs as extensive.

“It shows that there’s a great need for entertainment, and not least to actually consume football. It’s good for the development of Norwegian eFootball, and I hope we can take advantage of the positive trend in the time to come. The Pro Clubs championship has proven that Esports attracts a wider audience. You don’t have to be extremely good individually, but you can play well as a team. That’s great!” says Bretvik. 

Not only that, but when you play and where you play are entirely up to you, a point noted by one respondent to a recent survey conducted by Finnish telco, DNA who wrote, “Digitalisation increases people’s choices about how to use their leisure time effectively. … This is good in the sense that entertainment can be executed and consumed anywhere, when there is time.”

Time, and high-quality internet.

The Game-changer

Just as some footballers will argue that the quality of their boots makes all the difference in their performance, top gamers are dependent on one tool in particular to compete with the best: good internet. 

Benjamin Läärä, an Esports teacher and successful Dota 2 player, has been following the changes in the gaming industry since he was a young boy. For him, the games may have changed, but quality network remains a game-changer. 

“If the internet is bad,” he says, “you can’t do things in the game as well as others,” adding that functional and delay-free internet is the lifeblood of gaming.

Ric Brown, head of mobile operations in Telenor Norway (a sponsor of Esports in the country), understands the need more than most.   

“To perform at a high level, the gaming experience must be trouble-free. Our networks – both 4G and 5G – can withstand extreme trials like online gaming,” he says.

A bright future

Nothing, of course, stands still in the world of gaming or technological development. Right now, a VR (Virtual Reality) revolution is gathering pace, led by breakthrough titles such as No Man’s Sky and Vadar Immortal. Battling Anakin Skywalker for ‘real’ will no doubt rely on a stable and speedy telecommunications network.

That sounds like just the sort of challenge for our 5G future.

Read more stories on Telenor’s purpose in action here

What is 5G?

– A mobile data connection technology that enables up to 10 times faster data transfer compared to 4G.

– Enables network slicing, i.e. sharing according to the different needs of users and devices in home and business solutions. With slicing, each user gets their own interference- and congestion-free bandwidth.

– The delay, i.e. the time it takes to respond from a command, is shorter than in current networks. This opens up new possibilities for functions that require a very short delay, such as online gaming. 5G makes online gaming even more exciting and hassle-free online with other players, no matter where you are.

– The reliability and dependability of the 5G network ensures that security systems, smart locks and other home devices also work reliably.

– 5G brings the internet to homes and companies. Even where the high-speed fixed network does not extend. A 5G mobile network is enough for a single household connection, even if it is used a lot for telecommuting, gaming and streaming, for example.

– Downloading files is faster and, for example, 4K movies can be watched immediately. Ten times the speed of a 5G network and even gigantic connections ensure that the internet does not break even as the number of devices using the internet in homes increases.