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Good to Know: Navigating the Legalities of the Red Cross Symbol in Video Gaming

“Good to Know” is Esports Legal News’ latest series that dives deep into the legal nuances of the gaming industry. This edition casts a spotlight on a symbol that’s both commonplace in gaming and heavily protected in international law: the Red Cross emblem. While gamers are accustomed to seeing this icon as a marker for health and medical assistance within games, its use is bound by legal restrictions that stem from its origins in international humanitarian law (IHL).

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The Emblem’s Protected Status and IHL

The Red Cross emblem, along with the Red Crescent and Red Crystal, are symbols enshrined in IHL to identify and protect medical services during armed conflicts. These emblems are also used by the components of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for identification. IHL delineates clear rules for the use and misuse of these emblems, which are categorized into “protective” and “indicative” uses.

Protective Use

In its protective capacity, the emblems are a visible sign on the battlefield, denoting the neutrality and protection accorded to medical services, equipment, and buildings under IHL. This ensures that medical aid and personnel are not targeted during conflicts and can perform their duties without hindrance.

Indicative Use

Indicatively, the emblems are employed by National Societies globally to identify themselves as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation may use the emblem at any time, furthering the recognition of their neutral and humanitarian mandate.

The History of the Emblems

The emblems’ history dates back to 1864 when the First Geneva Convention was adopted, creating the Red Cross emblem as a neutral sign to protect medical staff and facilities in battle. The emblem’s design, a reverse of the Swiss flag, was chosen for its simplicity and visibility.

Over time, the emblem’s indicative use became established as national relief organizations began to be known as “Red Cross societies.” However, the emblem’s universality was challenged when the Ottoman Empire adopted the red crescent during the Russo-Turkish War while still respecting the Red Cross. This led to the formal recognition of multiple emblems in 1929, including the red crescent and the red lion and sun, later replaced by Iran with the red crescent in 1980.

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In response to concerns about the neutrality of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent in certain conflicts, an additional emblem, the red crystal, was adopted in 2005. This emblem, devoid of national, political, or religious connotations, serves the same purpose and carries the same meaning as its predecessors.

The Misuse in Gaming

Despite these well-established protections and meanings, the gaming industry has often used the Red Cross emblem without authorization, leading to potential legal conflicts. The ICRC has been proactive in addressing this issue, reaching out to developers to correct the misuse of the emblem in video games.

The Legal Risks

Using the Red Cross emblem in video games without consent can lead to violations of the Geneva Conventions, with possible legal consequences including fines and criminal charges. Game developers are now advised to use alternative symbols to avoid these risks and respect the emblem’s humanitarian significance.

Conclusion

The Red Cross emblem’s use in video games is a poignant reminder of the complex relationship between real-world laws and virtual worlds. Our “Good to Know” series aims to enlighten the gaming community and industry professionals about these legal intricacies. By respecting the emblem’s protected status, the gaming industry can contribute to the emblem’s integrity and avoid legal pitfalls. Join us as we continue to explore and share essential legal knowledge within gaming.

Image Source: ICRC via X/Twitter

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Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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Historic Esports Chronicles – The 2015 Match-Fixing Scandal in StarCraft II

The StarCraft II community was rocked in 2015 by its first major match-fixing scandal. This event involved several prominent Korean professional gamers and a coach, specifically Choi “YoDa” Byung Hyun, Choi “BBoongBBoong” Jong Hyuk, and Park “Gerrard” Oi Shik. These individuals were found guilty of manipulating competitive StarCraft II matches and were consequently handed lifetime bans by the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA). The scandal drew parallels to a similar incident in the game’s predecessor, StarCraft: Brood War.

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Early Indications of Match-Fixing

Suspicious Betting on Kang “San” Cho Won vs Park “Dark” Ryung Woo

On 20 January 2015, the first signs of potential match-fixing in StarCraft II emerged. PinnacleSports, an online betting platform, canceled all bets on a 2015 ProLeague match between Protoss player Kang “San” Cho Won from StarTale-yoe and Zerg player Park “Dark” Ryung Woo from SK Telecom T1. The cancellation was due to suspected match manipulation. A TeamLiquid.net user, “Swoopae,” had earlier alerted KeSPA and PinnacleSports about unusual betting line movements, which cast doubt on the integrity of this match.

Betting Irregularities in Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung vs Kim “Super” Min Chul

Just three days after the San vs Dark incident, on 23 January 2015, PinnacleSports again voided bets. This time, it was for a match between Terran player Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung and Protoss player Kim “Super” Min Chul in the 2015 GSL Season 1 Code S. The betting lines for the first map of this match shifted dramatically just before the game, leading to suspicions of foul play.

Influence of Illegal Betting on Small Online Tournaments

Olivia “Olimoley” Wong’s Revelations

In early February 2015, Olivia “Olimoley” Wong, organizer of the OlimoLeague and manager of team Axiom, brought to light the impact of illegal betting on the Korean StarCraft II scene. She disclosed that gamblers were sponsoring several small online tournaments. These sponsors were allegedly allowed to observe the matches directly through the game client, bypassing the standard live stream delays. This practice gave them an unfair advantage in betting. Olimoley also accused some players of collusion with these gamblers and criticized Blizzard for their inaction despite being repeatedly informed.

Notable Betting Line Movements in Matches

Choi “YoDa” Byung Hyun vs Han “Bunny” Joon

On 17 March 2015, another suspicious betting line movement was reported by a TeamLiquid.net user, “StarGalaxy.” This time, it was for a Proleague match between Terran players Choi “YoDa” Byung Hyun of Prime and Han “Bunny” Joon of CJ Entus. Despite YoDa being the favorite, the betting line shifted significantly towards Bunny just before the match, in which YoDa eventually lost.

Han “ByuL” Ji Won vs Lee “MarineKing” Jung Hoon

Further suspicions arose on 24 March 2015, when PinnacleSports voided bets on a match between Zerg player Han “ByuL” Ji Won and Terran player Lee “MarineKing” Jung Hoon. The betting lines showed unusual movements just before the match. MarineKing’s failure to respond effectively to ByuL’s proxy hatchery strategy, despite clear indications of the tactic, fueled speculations of match-fixing.

Kim “Soulkey” Min Chul vs Joo “Creator” Sung Wook

On 15 April 2015, another match featuring unusual betting line movements was Kim “Soulkey” Min Chul vs Joo “Creator” Sung Wook in the 2015 GSL Season 2 Code A. Despite being the underdog, Creator was heavily favored in the bets to win the first map, which he did, though he lost the series.

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KeSPA’s Response to Match-Fixing Allegations

In May 2015, KeSPA issued a statement acknowledging attempts at match-fixing. They reported that players had been approached by brokers to fix matches but had refused these offers. This statement came shortly after rumors surfaced about Kim “Soulkey” Min Chul’s potential involvement in match-fixing. KeSPA emphasized their commitment to combating match manipulation and urged fans to refrain from baseless accusations against players.

Removal of In-Game Clock in Broadcasts

To combat illegal betting, SpoTV removed the in-game clock from their Proleague broadcasts starting 27 July 2015. This decision was aimed at hindering bets based on time-specific events within matches.

Arrest of Prime Members

On 19 October 2015, the Chanwon Regional Prosecution Service announced the arrest of a coach and two professional players from team Prime for fixing five matches. These individuals were later identified as Park “Gerrard” Oi Shik, Choi “YoDa” Byung Hyun, and Choi “BBoongBBoong” Jong Hyuk. The report highlighted the novelty of an active coach collaborating with his team members in match-fixing.

Sentencing

On 31 March 2016, the individuals involved in the scandal, including former Prime members Park “Gerrard” Oi Shik, Choi “YoDa” Byung Hyun, and Choi “BBoongBBoong” Jong Hyuk, were sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years. They were also fined varying amounts. The suspended sentence is a form of probation used in the Korean judicial system for sentences of one year or less.

The Arrest of Life

StarCraft II player Lee “Life” Seung Hyun was arrested on 29 January 2016, by the Changwon prosecutor’s office, which had previously handled the Prime scandal. Initially, it was unclear if his arrest was related to the earlier case. Life was barred from participating in official matches pending investigation. His arrest was a significant blow to the community, given his status as one of the greatest StarCraft II players.

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Prosecution of Life and Bbyong

In April 2016, Lee “Life” Seung Hyun and Terran player Jo “Bbyong” Yong Ho were formally charged with match-fixing. The investigation revealed that match-fixing was more widespread in the Korean StarCraft II scene than previously thought. Life and Bbyong were accused of intentionally losing maps in exchange for large sums of money.

Final Sentencing and Appeals

Lee “Life” Seung Hyun’s appeal for a more lenient sentence was dismissed by the Changwon District Court in July 2016. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years, and fined KRW 70,000,000. The court ruled that the damage caused to the esports scene’s credibility outweighed his status as a minor and his previous contributions to the sport

Image source: Eurogamer

Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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Historic Esports Chronicles – 322 Meme Unearthed: From Betting Scandal to Dota 2’s Emblematic Meme

The digital realm of Esports has borne witness to a myriad of enthralling victories, heart-wrenching defeats, and amidst all, some dark days that have left indelible marks on the history of competitive gaming. This narrative unveils the story behind Dota 2’s “322” meme, a tale that unfolds in a single match, but whose echoes reverberate through the Dota 2 community to date.

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The Curtain Rises

The genesis of “322” traces back to 2013, starring Alexey “Solo” Berezin, the then player of team RoX. The team, originally a StarCraft: Brood War clan named RoX.KIS, transitioned into the Dota 2 arena, marking their presence in the StarLadder StarSeries Season 6. The journey was smooth until a fateful match against zRAGE, a relatively lower-tier team. Contrary to expectations, RoX.KIS found themselves entangled in a web of errors, eventually succumbing to a shocking defeat with a scoreline that read an appalling 50-22 in favor of zRAGE.

The Underbelly Exposed

Post-match investigations by StarLadder unearthed that Solo had placed a bet against his own team through a gambling site, leveraging his then-girlfriend’s account. The stakes were modest, a mere USD 100, but the potential return was USD 322, stemming from the odds of 3.22. This unassuming figure, USD 322, would soon be etched into the annals of Dota 2 lore as a synonym for throwing a game.

The Reckoning

The fallout was swift and severe. StarLadder imposed a lifetime ban on Solo while the rest of the RoX.KIS roster faced a three-year banishment. The only exception was Vanskor, who had not participated in the contentious match. The organization itself was barred from StarLadder events for a year. However, following Solo’s confession and assertion that his teammates were oblivious to his bet, StarLadder commuted his ban to a year and exonerated the rest of the RoX.KIS roster.

The Lingering Echoes

The “322” incident catalyzed a discourse on the legal frameworks surrounding esports betting, the enforcement of competitive integrity, and the mechanisms for adjudicating such infractions within the esports ecosystem. The meme “322” morphed into a symbol of misconduct, serving as a constant reminder of the legal and ethical boundaries within competitive gaming.

Post-scandal, Solo’s journey of redemption, marked by his tenure with reputed teams like Virtus.pro, showcased a narrative of resilience and rehabilitation within the esports community. His story underscores the significance of robust legal frameworks to address misconduct while highlighting the potential for rectification and personal growth within the esports realm.

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Conclusion

The “322” saga serves as a seminal case study in esports law, illuminating the intersections between competitive integrity, legal adjudication, and the cultural repercussions within the esports community. As the Dota 2 community continues to evolve, the legacy of “322” provides a legal and ethical reference point, reflecting the maturation of legal frameworks in the dynamic domain of esports.

Image source: Esports Stories via YouTube

Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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Valve Decides to Unban Ex-iBUYPOWER Joshua “⁠steel⁠” Nissan

In an unexpected development that has sent ripples through the esports community, Valve Corporation, the developer behind the popular game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), has announced its decision to lift the once-permanent ban on Joshua “⁠steel⁠” Nissan. This decision, set to take effect on January 26, 2025, comes nearly a decade after the infamous iBUYPOWER match-fixing scandal that significantly impacted the Counter-Strike scene in 2015.

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The iBUYPOWER Scandal and Its Aftermath

The controversy dates back to August 2014, when members of the iBUYPOWER team were found to have deliberately lost a match against NetcodeGuides.com. The incident was brought to light following an investigation by esports journalist Richard Lewis, capturing Valve’s attention and leading to severe repercussions. In January 2015, Valve issued a public statement emphasizing integrity and fair play, announcing an indefinite ban on seven individuals involved, including steel.

Originally indefinite, these bans were later declared permanent by Valve, almost a year later, quashing any hopes of a return for the implicated players in Valve-sponsored events. However, a glimmer of hope emerged in July 2017 when ESL and DreamHack, two major tournament organizers, lifted their bans, allowing these players to participate in their tournaments.

Steel’s Journey and Future Prospects

Post-ban, steel ventured into Riot Games’ VALORANT in 2020, joining teams like 100 Thieves, T1, and Disguised. His move to VALORANT, partly necessitated by the ban, demonstrated his dedication to competitive gaming. Steel’s involvement in content creation kept him relevant in both the Counter-Strike and VALORANT communities.

With the upcoming lifting of the ban, steel and potentially other former iBUYPOWER members face new career opportunities. While returning to professional play might be challenging for some, given their age (most are over 30), roles within the Counter-Strike ecosystem, such as coaching or broadcasting, could be viable paths. Steel’s success in VALORANT also suggests potential in continuing as a player or transitioning into other roles within esports.

Community and Legal Implications

This decision by Valve opens up several intriguing narratives for the future of esports, particularly regarding the treatment of banned players and the potential for rehabilitation and return. The lifting of the ban on steel and possibly other players raises questions about the consistency and longevity of punitive measures in esports and the balance between punishment and opportunity for redemption.

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The esports community has shown mixed reactions to this news, with some welcoming the chance for redemption and others expressing concerns about the message it sends regarding match-fixing. The legal and ethical aspects of such decisions in esports also come under scrutiny, highlighting the evolving nature of regulations and governance in this rapidly growing field.

Conclusion

Valve’s decision to unban steel and potentially other members of the infamous iBUYPOWER squad marks a significant moment in esports history. It underscores the ongoing challenges in governing esports and balancing justice with mercy. As the esports industry continues to mature, the handling of such cases will undoubtedly shape the legal and ethical framework surrounding competitive gaming.

Image source: Joshua “steel” Nissan Facebook

Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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