Legalising Paid Esports in Japan
This spring, Japan took a massive leap towards recognising video gaming as an actual profession and gamers across the country could not be happier. Not only does this change the perception of gaming, but also provides professional gamers ways to make a living by doing what they do best. In the past, paid esports tournaments have been restricted due to laws that were meant to tackle illegal gambling spilling over and regulating paid gaming tournaments. This is why the Tokaigi 2018 gaming event was revolutionary. For the first time ever, Japan’s newly founded industry group, called JeSU, issued licenses to the top players that will exempt them from Japan’s gambling laws and allow them to participate in paid esports tournaments in the future. This all comes after speculation that esports might become an official olympic medal sport by 2024.
These changes will undoubtedly have an effect on the way that people perceive gaming and gamers in Japan. In the past, the image of a gamer has been slightly negative in Japan. A representative from Sony speculated that esports create stronger player communities and truly increase the social value of games. It will be interesting to see whether the perception of gamers will change once these changes take place and will there be more encouragement for younger players to focus on the sport.