Sports Law and Policy Centre held an esports symposium, without esports personalities- kind of.
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India is one of the most potent markets for esports. Being the world’s youngest democracy, it has the perfect demographic for it. And esports definitely is taking off in India. But since it is in its infancy, it is a bit disorganised and has a lot of hurdles to cross. And the recent esports symposium, which was a part of Sports Law and Policy Symposium by the Sports Law and Policy centre, Bengaluru is an example of that.
As we can see from the digital poster for the event, there is no one on the panel from the esports fraternity in India, except for Lokesh Suji. He is the chairman of Esports Federation of India. But no one from the fraternity is happy with his inclusion, and they have good reason for that.
Even though the name sounds fancy and official, esports federation of India is neither a government body and is neither recognised the the Indian Olympic Association. So when they announced that they would be hosting qualifiers for the Asian Games, their right to do so was immediately questioned.
Also, the contract, or the Terms and Conditions they wanted the players to sign, was termed exploitative in my conversation with a Lawyer. But the outrage wasn’t just in India. Even ESPN consulted three lawyers in the US, and the three of them unanimously found the contract to be one sided. “I think the only benefit players receive from this contract is the chance to play and whatever accommodations are provided by AESF (not even by ESFI),” Ryan Fairchild said, a North Carolina based esports attorney for brooks pierce. “Literally everything else is protection or benefit for ESFI and risk — and cost-shifting from ESFI to the player. This may be the most one-sided contract I’ve seen.” You can read the whole article here.
Richard Lewis, the well known and outspoken esports journalist, termed it as the worst contract in the history of esports.
It is ironic to have Suji on the panel, since Sports Law and Policy Centre is an independent organisation run by lawyers to provide support in ethical and legal issues.
Either they don’t really care about the ethics, or they don’t really know the esports community, or they don’t research the people on their panel except for the titles they have.
When asked for his comments on the issue, Suji replied, “Ha ha”.
The other prominent personality that stands out is Abhinav Bindra, India’s first Olympics Gold medallist and Ace shooter.
In an interview with The Week, he admitted that he had never played Video Games in his life. Yet he did not refrain from commenting. He said, “I never played a video game in my life. I wouldn’t know the skill-sets required to play a game. Athletes are entrepreneurs who start with an idea; there’s little to start with. As athletes, we are explorers trying to explore the edge of human performance. There is a big difference in physical aspect (when comes to eSports). Olympics is a greatest test of an athlete’s abilities. I am not quite sure eSports fits into that.”
One of the main concerns of the Olympics is that video games promote violence, which I can(and a lot of extensive research) attest to is far from reality. When pointed that shooting is also violent, he said, “ We shoot differently, we don’t shoot like combat persons do, and there are strict regulations to ensure there is not even a bit of camouflage stuff on our clothing.”
I don’t know if he knows or not, but we gamers don’t really cast spells like real mages do, or even hold real guns while playing shooting games. If we shot like real people, I guess we would make the best elite soldiers.
Jay Satya is the founder of Glaws and a lawyer. He deals with Gambling Laws in India. Even though gambling is rampant in esports, I fail to see what it has to do with esports in olympics. I have no idea whether he has any experience in gambling in sports, so I wouldn’t comment on it.
Amrut Joshi is a sports Lawyer; I couldn’t find anything about him which would say that he has any sort of experience or deals in esports.
The panel chosen by the Sports Law and Policy Centre just goes to show how little is known about esports, and how little effort is being put into knowing esports and it’s fraterntiy. There are people like Sid Joshi, the manager of Entity Gaming, and Sudhen “Bleh” Wahengbam, who have received international recognition. Though I disagree with some of their viewpoints, I do agree, that they deserved to be on that panel with their vast experience and exposure. OpTic gaming, the world renowned esports organisation, is also now in India. A representative or anyone from the management of the Indian wing of the organisation would have also made a great addition to the panel.
I reached out to The Sports Law and Policy Centre for their comments, but haven’t received a reply yet.