The Legal Validity of E-Sports as a Sport

The Legal Validity of E-Sports as a Sport

Reyhan Mir
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5387-8.ch005
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The chapter aims to investigate the e-sports phenomenon and analyze its legal relevance and validity with the traditional sports world. The chapter looks to provide the current framework of the e-sports field and its potential to be a sport, followed by the legal challenges it faces towards being possibly recognized as one. The second segment of this chapter additionally looks into the regulations currently in place as well as analyzes the minimum changes required in order to ensure the growth of this field. The chapter eventually concludes by analyzing the possible future for the field and suggestions to help facilitate its development.
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Brief Introduction Into The Esports Industry

Esports (Darcy, 2017) is the term given to a select group of competitive videogames which are selected on the basis of their popularity and ability to incorporate multiplayer game play. Among others, the conventionally popular games have included League of Legends (LoL), StarCraft 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and the comparatively recent Overwatch.

Each of these games are governed by their respective developers such as Riot for LoL or Valve for CS:GO. Due to this setup, there are no universal regulations for all esports and it is usually dependent on the game publisher or particular tournament organiser to establish their preferred regulations. Therefore, it would be useful to provide a basic framework of the industry to provide clarity further into the chapter.

The monopoly of the industry resides with the game publishers and secondarily with the tournament organisers. Unlike other sports such as the International Tennis Federation for tennis, there is no overarching governing body for all esports which has lead to a lack of standardisation in governing the esports system with each esports title having its own set of rules and regulations. The game publishers such as Activision Blizzard, Riot and Valve can organise tournaments featuring their own games. In contrast, tournament organisers such as the Electronic Sports League (ESL), DreamHack and Gfinity would have to obtain licenses from the publishers to host tournaments featuring these games.

In May 2016, due to the evident lack of player and team influence, the ESL alongside various other esports teams formed another organisation called the World Electronic Sports Association (WESA) with the aim of providing player representation, standardising regulations and revenue sharing between teams. The effectiveness of this initiative has however been limited as the teams are mainly based in CS:GO and do not have sufficient influence in other games. Within the same context, Riot games themselves plan to introduce a players representation group to allow players to have more influence in the developments of the LoL (Conditt, 2017). An additional organisation to take note of is the International Electronic Sports Federation (IeSF) as they have attained some commendable accomplishments which have been helpful in recognising esports as a sport.

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