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Pro gamers in Argentina to be recognized as professional athletes

Argentina is just steps away from becoming the first country in South America to recognize professional gamers as athletes by law.

The Argentinian Esports Association (named AADE in Argentina) has been working tirelessly in order to encourage the recognition of esports players in Argentina.

Esports is an increasingly fast growing industry worldwide – the esports betting market is growing exponentially whilst advertisers and sponsors are using esports in order to market themselves to a primarily young audience. The South American esports scene especially, continues to grow ever larger.

The AADE introduced a bill in 2018 and through the bill they will promote esports in Argentina and ensure that there will be competitions across the country. The plan is to introduce esports to colleges and high schools by creating interstate leagues. These leagues will go beyond the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, and will exist across the country.

Each and every player taking part in the new leagues will be considered as an athlete and once esports receives the recognition as a discipline by the government, it will be included in the countries National Sports System and will not qualify as gambling like it does now.

Another goal of the AADE is to create reguations that prevent sedentary lifestyles amongst the athletes. One of the major criticisms of esports and gaming in general is the lack of physical activity involved. This is also a critique of people involved in stereotypical sports who argue that the term esports should not be used because they have nothing to do with sports.

Once esports are backed by Argentine law, the government is under an obligation to invest in them, meaning that growth will be inevitable. Investment into the infrastructure, especially, will ensure that esports athletes in the country will develop so that they can compete locally and internationally. Infrastructure in North America and Asia are at a world class level so if Argentina want their players to be able to compete globally, investment in this area is vital.

The AADE proposes two types of infrastructures necessary for the benefit of athletes in Argentina and in Latin America as a whole: arena’s and high performance centres. The aim is for Argentina to become the hub of esports in the whole of South America and the prime destination for teams across the globe to train in state of the art facilities which are planned to exist in the country. They will also be able to be used as venues for hosting major competitions.

However, the project has not been without its controversy. Articles 3 and 4 – which were introduced by the Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies – have faced strong opposition, mainly from team owners.

Article 3 states: “This law rejects violent video games and everything that shows images of fury, aggression or cruelty and that games belonging to the following genres: real-time strategy, digital collectible cards, and sports are considered esports.”

Article 4 states that: “Games in the first person shooter genre, where the player sees the world from the character’s perspective are not considered esports.”

These two articles ensure that first person shooters, fighting games and multi-player online battle arena games – all of which have a vibrant competitive scene in the country – are not classed as esports and the gamers who compete in them, not classed as athletes. CSGO especially, is a first person shooter with a wide following in South America. Betting on CSGO as well as playing and watching streams of CSGO is a hobby of lots of Argentines. Fortunately, the AADE is set to counter the articles which were introduced.

On the other hand, team owners and players in the country are reportedly heavily against the AADE’s bill stating that the bill was “poorly researched and absurd.”

However, regulators are certainly needed if Argentina wants to become the esports leader in Latin America. As regulators, AADE will create fair and adequate rules that teams and players will have to follow – going against these rules will have consequences.

Rules are necessary if esports is to continue to grow, the industry in general has been a free-for-all for too long and guidelines and regulations will help esports continue to grow worldwide.

The bill has not yet been finalized and it will be interesting to see whether the AADE can install itself as the regulator of esports in Argentina and Latin America.

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