Esports in the Philippines recently received a massive boost after the government declared its official support for the industry.
A statement from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) was posted on the official Facebook page of Mineski.net, a local gaming organisation. The GAB is tasked with the regulation and supervision of “professional sports and allied activities”, mostly in order to prevent organised illegal gambling and match-fixing activities.
In the statement, the GAB announced that they have “started recognizing esports or competitive computer/video gaming as among the professional activities falling under its regulation and supervision”. That means that esports is listed alongside boxing, basketball, football and more as falling under the jurisdiction of the government agency.
The message went on to say that “While esports is different from the traditional competitions that we are used to, it cannot be denied that esports requires tremendous amounts of skill and training”. The announcement singles out multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBAs) in particular as requiring “careful planning and strong teamwork”.
“With its growing popularity and commercial success in recent years, it has caught the attention of the government since up to now there seems to be no supervision and regulation in place.”
So what does this move mean for local esports?
Foremost in the minds of the GAB seems to be providing adequate protection for players, and ensuring that organisations look after their health and welfare. They will also be on the lookout for any improper conduct in order to “protect the integrity” of the competition and “prevent game-fixing, fraud, and possible breach of contracts that could leave our local players at a disadvantage”.
In addition, the GAB has already licensed “about a dozen” Dota 2 players who will be competing in The International 2017 in the US state of Washington this month. The licences, usually reserved for professional athletes of traditional sports to engage in international competition, will allow members of Dota organisations Execration and TNC Pro Team to travel to the US. This is a hot topic in Dota 2, as only yesterday Swedish ex-pro Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg was denied access through customs at the US border where he was travelling to provide commentary for the year’s biggest tournament.
Esports Insider says: official government recognition should provide a massive stabilising presence to esports competition and players in the Philippines. Other countries should look to the country’s example to provide regulation as the industry develops and matures.