Monday , March 27 2023

Esports Athletes, Gamers Met MOS (MeitY) Rajeev Chandrasekhar To Review Online Gaming Rules

Led by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, MeitY held a very meaningful & successful consultation with children, parents, teachers, esports athletes, gamers, and safety and trust organizations on the proposed amendments to the IT Rules 2021 in relation to online gaming on Wednesday 11th Jan at Electronics Niketan, MeitY office, New Delhi.

Distinguished Esports athletes, Tirth Mehta (Asian Games’18 Bronze Medalist), Karman Singh Tikka (Team India – Esports, Asian Games’22), Dhruv Salvadi and Snehil Ahirwar alongside Lokesh Suji, Director of Esports Federation of India and Board Member & VP, Asian Esports Federation were part of the prominent group present at the discussion and gave their fundamental insights and suggestions on the matter. Priyank Kanoongo (Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights) was also present at this meeting.

“We suggest using different terminology and/ or clarifying the current draft’s definition of ‘online games’ – to better cater for 4 distinct segments of games: Real money; Casual; Esports; and learning. Also, the best practice safeguards to be adopted by the proposed guidelines should be appropriately tailored for these 4 distinct segments,” said Dr Tejpavan Gandhok, Vice Dean, JGBS, Associate Director Centre for Sports Law & Governance, Jindal Global University.

According to MeitY’s Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021 in relation to online gaming, “online game” means a game that is offered on the Internet and is accessible by a user through a computer resource if he makes a deposit with the expectation of earning winnings.

Raising a crucial query on this point, Dhruv Salvadi (avid gamer and Manipal Institute of Technology graduate) said, “Multiple esports tournaments organised at college or ground level at times require a registration fee in order for the athletes and teams to compete in it whereupon the winners are presented with prizes which may be in cash and/or kind. This rule can create confusion among the public regarding such Esports tournaments/championships. Hence, clarity is needed in the definition of ‘online gaming’, he was also of the same opinion that instead of ‘online gaming’ it should be ‘igaming’ so as to establish a clear difference between Esports (which is a sport played electronically) and igaming.”

Dhruv further added, “for video games that charge users to use their products or contain microtransactions, will all online video game developers need to get KYC for their users?” to which Chandrasekhar said, “e-KYC is mandatory for all financial transactions”.

“The worldwide & dictionary meaning of ‘online game’ is “electronic game played over a computer network, particularly over the Internet”, whereas the draft has added “deposit with the expectation of earning winnings” to this, and is confusing for the public at large. Since these amendments are to regulate fantasy, teen patti, poker, rummy, betting, gambling etc., instead of calling them ‘online gaming’ we should define them as ‘igaming’ the way the rest of the world has defined them,” said Lokesh Suji, a former esports athlete who participated in Call of Duty World Championship in 2018 (New Orleans).

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