Esport players seek clear definition of online games during consultations

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Esports players that attended the recent consultation on the draft online gaming policy by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) are now seeking a clear definition of online games to differentiate esports and general gaming.

The meeting, headed by Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar on 11 January, included parents, teachers, Esports athletes, gamers, and stakeholders in the Industry. During the meeting, several esports players asked for a clear-cut definition for online gaming.

A gamer named Dhruv Salvadi said, “Multiple Esports tournaments organized at college or ground level at times require a registration fee for the athletes and teams to compete in it, whereupon the winners are presented with prizes which may be in cash and/or kind. This rule can create confusion among the public regarding such Esports tournaments or championships. Hence, clarity is needed in the definition of online gaming.”

The draft rules released by MeitY for Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code proposed a self-regulatory body to certify what is permitted as an ‘online game’ in India. The rules, however, did not specify the definition for online gaming.

Associate director of the Center for Sports Law & Governance, Tejpavan Gandhok, said, “We suggest using different terminology and/or clarifying the current draft’s definition of ‘online games’ to better cater for four distinct segments of games: Real money, Casual; Esports; and learning. Also, the best practice safeguards adopted by the proposed guidelines should be appropriately tailored for these four distinct segments.”

With a plan to finalize adding the draft rules by February, Esports gamers want a single separate definition. Currently, the rules define online gaming as any game that is offered on the Internet and is accessible by a user through a computer or smartphone.

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