Row Over Violence Divides Argentine Esports Community

Argentina's Esports Congressional Kerfuffle is a false start for esports legitimacy in South America

Nov 02, 2018
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Argentina, like other South American countries, has seen interest in esports and video games skyrocket in recent years. Grassroots efforts by passionate fans and developers in the country have helped grow its fledgling esports scene, which recently earned the support of some within the Argentinian government. Last month a new bill was introduced to the country's legislature that would enter esports into the official sports system described in Argentina's 'National Sports Law.' The introduction of the bill was spearheaded by the Argentine Association of Electronic Sports (AADE).

While seemingly a step forward for the nascent esports community of Argentina, the bill earned the scorn of the vast majority organizations and players within the country. The principal issue, among many, was the AADE's decision not to consult with other esports entities before drafting and submitting the bill. This oversight created a proposed law that would prohibit many current players and teams from competing within the official sports structures of Argentina, as well as serve as an effective ban on the world's most popular esports titles.

Of principal concern were articles 3 and 4 in the bill which prohibit 'violent' games and even ones that feature any kind of shooting or combat. Under the proposal many, if not most, of today's popular esports titles would be prohibited, including Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota2, Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, Paladins, PUBG, Smite, y Street Fighter.

Announced in April, the new initiative received a public hearing last month upon introduction to the Argentine legislature. However, before the hearing the esports community of Argentina mobilized against the measure on social media, claiming it failed to represent the whole or even a majority of the country's esports community. 

"Absolutely against the joke of an esports bill in Argentina put forth by someone who does not represent us in the least. #NoAlProyectoDeEsports (No to the Esports Project)," wrote one member of the Argentine squad Team Isurus.

The AADE responded by pointing out they had the support of the International Sports Federation (IESF Master). A response which did not address the principal complaints of the esports community in Argentina.

When the hearing came, the AADE reportedly submitted a modified version of the bill that addressed some of the communities concerns, but many were still angry that the organization refused to reach out for input from the esports community before submitting either version.

The reportedly contentious hearing ended without a clear path forward for the new initiative, beyond a vague agreement to consider a new version of the bill at a future date. However, the future doesn't look bright. Legislator Facundo Moyano reportedly pointed out that the government does not have the funds to invest in promoting a new sport.

The concern about violent games in esports isn't just limited to Argentina, last month International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach railed against  “so-called killer games" in an interview regarding esports with the Associated Press. Both Mr. Bach's statements and the Argentinian law were vague in defining violence, leaving the esports fans confused as to what sports and government authorities mean by 'violent.' 

The LPE remains committed promoting games free of exploitative and graphic violence. However, we wonder if games such as League of Legends are truly violent in the same manner as Call of Duty or Mortal Kombat.