It is an undeniable fact that the eSports industry is experiencing a massive boost which can be witnessed by its exponential growth and adoption. This can be attributed to various factors including the attention of big investors causing an increase in the number of professional players, facile access to the international arenas and location-independent nature of the sport. Despite its many charms, eSports is still in its infancy and the absence of international rules/standards has led to an easy penetration of cheaters, hackers, match-fixers, illegal punters and exploiters who are constantly playing with the law.
Law enforcement related challenges:
Unlike any other sport, it would be a huge challenge to devise some common rules/penalties owing to the diverse nature of the included game-plays such as 1st person shooter, real-time strategy, sports games, multiplayer online, racing etc. Even if some consensus is established for each eSports genre, the implementation of those laws/standards would not be a piece of cake due to several related issues:
- The importance of eSports-related legal matters is taken differently in developed, moderately developed and under-developed regions.
- The IP tracking would be the only reliable tool for capturing the culprits but is almost impossible to track someone connected to a dynamic IP.
- Work from home would be the best option for employers but the estimation of direct/indirect costs, failures and damages is a bit tricky.
- The local laws of income tax, pensions, working hours and minimum salaries are diverse and a fast modification for the inclusion of eSports is not feasible.
Despite all the challenges, many nations and organizations have stepped forward with some solutions and penalties so let’s have a look at the overview;
Formation of eSports Association and a digital bill (France, 2016)
France is one of the largest eSports markets (~ 3 Billion in 2017) and a couple of years ago, French Senate has approved a ‘Digital Bill’ to include this genre into professional Sports category. This has led to the development of some certain amendments in the laws including the copyrights for broadcasting, income tax, and VAT implementations. They are also planning to provide an age-limit for the participants with an allowed deviation where the player would be supervised by an adult. Moreover, a specific minimum salary would be defined for the employees of the club/team.
Anti-doping laws by eSports Integrity Coalition (ESIC, 2017)
I know it is a little surprising that even in eSports doping is a common practice. Many players have been reported to use illegal substances/drugs to improve their cognitive responses, apparently improving their focus and consistency. However, it is almost impossible for any agency to drug-test each player of every tournament around the globe so ESIC is performing random tests and have issued regulatory information to the organizers of main events. Moreover, there is still a debate over the use of medicines for personal health issues as some of them were found to include chemicals (such as Ritalin also known as the stay-awake drug) that can cause a reduction in sleep along with an enhancement in the practice durations, leading to an adverse effect on the overall health of the user.
Cash penalty and jail for profile-boosting (South Korea, 2018)
The number of eSports users in South Korea has reached a whopping 29 Million figure leading to the generation of a strong competitive atmosphere and in order to quickly gain higher ranks, players were actively searching for shortcuts. This strain led to the development of many undercover agencies/companies who are artificially improving the ranks of low-skilled players called ‘boosting’. These agencies would invite the customers (users) into their arenas and would let them win the battles with high margins consequently adding experience points to the player’s profiles. In other cases, a friend of a player would join the opposite team in a live match and would allow his partner to gain bonus points by defeating him. To end this foul, the Korean government has recently announced a penalty of $18000 and jail for anyone/agency found to be guilty of the boosting.
A peep into future:
In a nutshell, we can speculate that the eSports industry would play a great role in the amendments of the constitutions by introducing a separate law enforcement category. This also indicates that a variety of new professions would emerge and justice authorities would require a proper education regarding these matters.
In near future, if you will be robbed of your gaming account, then unlike what happened with Sheldon (Big Bang theory; Link of the Video Clip), police (Img. S.) would listen to your complaint, friends would not make fun of you and the services of Penny would no longer be required. That is all for today. Do share your thoughts about::
- The biggest issue of the gaming world right now?
- The current eSports law situation in your region?