U.K. Government Touts ESports as Potential “Area of Real National Strength”
What the government had to say about ESports is surprisingly positive
On the off chance that you don’t keep up with every policy paper or committee report that gets issued by U.K. government departments, you might have missed last fall’s 82-page tome from the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Immersive and Addictive Technologies. (If so, you can catch up here.)
The document cited a number of potential harms, including gaming addiction and the use of social media as a means of spreading disinformation.
Referring specifically to online gaming, the report pointed to “gambling-like game mechanics, including loot boxes”—particularly those on which players spend real-world money—as an area of concern.
On June 8, the government of the U.K. issued its response to the committee’s report. We’ll spare you most of the details, but what the government had to say about ESports is particularly interesting—and surprisingly positive.
It’s worth quoting at length:
28. Esports has the potential to develop as an area of real national strength in the UK, building on our world-class video games, entertainment, and sports sectors. The steep growth in online esports audience figures and the increasing number of esports events and investments in the UK indicate the existence of a solid foundation to build on. Esports has also come to the fore during the COVID-19 lockdown, offering entertainment and a way to connect with others. This has included notable link-ups with traditional sports including the ePremier League Invitational event in April 2020 and the Formula 1 virtual Grand Prix series.
29. To help this burgeoning industry deliver on its potential, the government will continue to develop its relationship with the sector, helping to identify, promote, and exploit the areas that offer the most opportunity to the UK. This includes examining the ways in which esports can drive innovation and public engagement. It will also involve addressing key concerns around issues that include talent working and competing in the UK, access to venues, and ensuring esports can be conducted in a safe and fair manner for competitors and audiences.
30. As a first step, the government will bring forward plans for a ministerial roundtable with a range of esports stakeholders to discuss the opportunities and barriers to market-driven growth in the UK and how industry is working collectively – or can work in future – to encourage best practice in areas such as player well-being and esports integrity.
31. We note that trade body Ukie is already working with a number of global trade bodies – the Entertainment Software Association in the US, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association of Australia and New Zealand and the Interactive Software Federation of Europe – to devise a set of broad principles of engagement for esports, outlining general best practices already undertaken by the sector and starting to address some of the emerging concerns.
You can read the government’s full response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Report on Immersive and Addictive Technologies here.