Exclusive: ESFI rolled out a written piece to clarify how esports is different from fantasy sports or RMG

Unprecedented Covid 19 led lockdown has seen a huge surge of users showing interest in the gaming industry which has resulted in a lack of knowledge or inability to distinguish different facets of the industry. Some mistaken igaming with esports and some mistaken esports with fantasy sports whereas some recognise game of skill as game of luck.

The lines between esports and real money gaming are causing redundant problems to the esports community. Recently the Andhra Pradesh government on 4 September had declared online gambling activities illegal and blocked 132 websites, along with EA games website, Miniclip games and Zapak. EA games have the popular esports title FIFA series under its belt, while Miniclip’s website offers a choice between hundreds of flash games that can be played on the browser. Both the sites are no way involved in money related activities. Such unfortunate mishaps can be avoided by understanding the differences and to clarify and address this issue, Esports Federation of India has rolled out a written piece “Esports Vs Fantasy Vs Gaming Vs RMG “

Esports Federation of India director Lokesh Suji

Esports Federation of India director Lokesh Suji shared with AnimationXpress, “Esports should not be confused with Teen Patti, Fantasy, Rummy, poker, online gaming, gambling or real money gaming or for that matter, playing casual games like ludo etc. Esports is a sport, it is competitive video game playing, coordinated by different leagues, where players participate in group gaming competitions. Viewers can watch professional gamers compete against each other in a variety of games. We are a sport because the physicality of responses of our participants leads to the result of a winner. And esports is essentially a speed competition. The business model of esports depends majorly on three aspects – media rights, sponsorship and merchandising. There is no space for gambling or betting involvement in esports sector. Mostly esports companies never charge their players to play their tournaments; instead they give them prize money on winning the tournament.

These factors clearly embed esports as a professional sport, even the level of luck involved is no different from the traditional sports. While Gambling or “real money gaming” depends largely on luck and very little to no skill involved, pairing the two together is in a way disgracing and resenting to acknowledge the skill of these pro esports athletes.”

Here is what ESFI’s written piece shares to clarify the misconception:

  • Term gaming refers to the act of playing video games, while the term iGaming was created to cover ‘online betting of real-world events with real world currency’. iGaming refers to Internet for-profit games such as online poker, online bingo, online casinos, sports betting and lotteries. Gaming, on the other hand, is a formalised expression of play. Games can come in many different types and genres; they can involve social play or role-playing, they can comprise board games such as Scrabble, they may include video games which are played on a game console (example Call of Duty, Need for Speed-which is a car racing game, FIFA-simulation game for football and more), or may come in the form of electronic/digital games played via a computer or smartphone (example., Candy Crush Saga).
  • There are federal commissions like “gaming board” which are betting related bodies, but these have nothing to do with video games or esports. Gambling industry is estimated to be US$60 billion/per in worth in India and about half of it is illegal. Even though gambling in the country is restricted, the bar is a little lowered for horse racing and lotteries. Nevertheless, the government has regulated certain organizations to license the titles. There are many online casinos that allow players to fulfill their gambling desires. Gambling is a game of chance, while esports is a game of skill. Thus, largely people and the gambling industry ‘mistake’ esports and real money gaming/igaming/egaming.
  • Online casinos offering classic casino games such as video slots, video poker, blackjack, roulette, and much more, are the most comprehensive of all iGaming platforms and they get the most action as well.
  • Online poker has been in a massive uptick since the early 2000s and while the industry has slowed down just a bit now, poker players from all parts of the world still flock to online poker sites to test their skills.
  • Fantasy has a major element of betting which comes in when you pay money to register your virtual team for a contest with other virtual teams. Here the winners gain money from the losers, with the platform taking a cut. Courts have so far ruled that picking a fantasy team involves strategy, and so it doesn’t come under the purview of gambling, like in a card game or roulette that’s based more on chance.
  • Esports is based entirely on a fictional world and solely on your own skill while in fantasy sports it depends less on your own skill but largely on the skill (performance) of that third person whom you selected to be in your team and you have no control to effect the performance or skill of this third person, whereas in esports since it’s you and you only, you yourself control the virtual character (basically it’s you only playing virtually), hence you are directly effecting the performance, skill or the outcome which is not dependent of any luck or chance (its purely and solely dependent on your own skill).
  • Esports managed to go from nearly 385 million views to an impressive 454 million over a period of one year in 2019. This kind of rapid growth for an industry had a great influence on making it an inviting field for the gambling industry to have an incentive to be recognised under the same umbrella term.
  • Esports is recognised by several countries as such (Korea, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Finland and so on) and India won a bronze medal in Asian Games-2018 where esports was a demonstration title and will be a medal sport in upcoming Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games-2021 (Thailand). Basically, it is competitive video game playing, coordinated by different leagues, where players participate in group gaming competitions. Viewers can watch professional gamers compete against each other in a variety of games.
  • Just like any athlete, esports athletes have trained their body and visceral reactions in the competitive environment. Though to someone who does not know what is happening, it might seem like the esports athlete is just mashing buttons, but the perceptual acuity of first person shooter play for example where their knowledge of game maps and weapons meet interpretive wok in elaborate hand eye co-ordination can leave the average players head spinning it they were to face them in the game. At the topmost level embodied skills must be naturalised to a degree that its unconscious in order for true mastery occurs.
  • In the same way that basics like dribbling and throwing a ball have to be ingrained into the very physicality of the sports player, computer games similarly require a deep internalization of moves, for the highest-level play to occur. It requires years of commitment and dedication to reach the level on a professional and still be beaten by someone who’s practiced more. The same way traditional sports shape embodied actions, with constant and rigorous practice, esports players exhibit physical- technological skills within larger team concepts all with practice and intensive routines.

Currently Esports in India is considered as entertainment and not a sport, the government is yet to recognise it as a sport. Esports athletes, organisers and everyone involved end up paying a 35 per cent entertainment tax because of this, whereas the sports tax in India is at 20 per cent.