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Esports Arena

Esports Arena – When discussing football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and other traditional sports, it is easy to imagine the physical playing field. However, the visualization of that concept in esports is considerably more abstract and diverse.

In the context of in-person events, we might envision grand venues such as the Spodek Arena in Katowice, the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, or the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, among other iconic locations that have hosted major in-person esports tournaments. These events, that blur the lines between traditional sports and esports, shows as that the arena in esports is composed by two sides: spectator and competitor.

On the competitor side, professional esports players are usually depicted in a highly focused state, seated in two opposing tables behind sophisticated gaming setups complete with high-performance computers, gaming consoles, or mobile devices.

On the spectator side, a large vertical stand facing where the players are arranged and, above them, large screens to see what is happening.

Nevertheless, the question arises: is this image truly what we must assume as “the arenas of esports”? Moreover, how do we accommodate online events in that concept? What if proplayers are seated on a couch? Or what about, with the landscape of esports evolving rapidly, if there is a competition related to virtual and augmented reality in which nothing of that image is present? All these scenarios may challenge that conventional perception of the esports arena.

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Maybe in response to these challenges, the esports sector and several countries have implemented regulatory frameworks to govern the industry. For instance, China’s National Rules for Electronic Sports Competition stipulate minimum dimensions for competition tables, chairs, and technical specifications for computers [1]. Similarly, the Türkiye Espor Federasyonu (TESFED) of Turkey prescribes minimum requirements for esports practice venues, including square footage, temperature, and lighting standards [2].

Also, specific requirements for playing venues are typically outlined within the rules of each competition. For example, the Official Rules of the 2023 Season of the League of Legends European Championship detail prerequisites for player seating arrangements and technical specifications [3]. Similarly, online competitions, as outlined in the ESL Pro Tour CS General Rules, also specify conditions regarding physical locations and play areas [4].

Furthermore, nothing has been established from a theoretical point of view to ensure that those definitions correctly fulfil the concept of an esports arena. In fact, the only thing that we know from an esports arena is that it must guarantee both integrity and safety, for players and spectators. One of them, because it is regulated in most in-person events, the other one because it is the essence of esports competition itself.

Focusing exclusively on the integrity side, we could see this guarantee on multiple integrity codes. For example, if a competitive organizer is a member of ESIC, it should comply with the “CODE OF CONDUCT” of this association on their esports competitions (it doesn’t matter what format they have), ensuring that they implement measures for guaranteeing competitive integrity.

According to this, they must apply measures to avoid “abuse of gaming equipment/hardware or facilities provided for a Match or Event” (described as a level 1 offense related). More specifically, they must ensure that “any action(s) outside the course of Game play actions, such as deliberately breaking, attempting to break, hitting or kicking equipment, furnishings, facilities, advertising boards or other fixtures” [5] it is committed by any participant in the competition or external to it.

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In turn, this idea of protecting integrity has also extended to the online world, where esports have traditionally moved. Nevertheless, the online environment seems to be forgotten when people think in esports arenas. In that case we need more imagination to add Gaming Houses, remote players (even teleworking if they are club players) and voice applications for communication in tournaments.

All this is due to the player’s side, but what about the spectators? Where do we place them in an online competition? Maybe should we consider other agents such as broadcasters (for example, Twitch or YouTube) could also be considered as part of the arena? After all, for the spectator without this stakeholder he would not be able to enjoy the competition. If this were the case, the regulation of the quality standard would depend exclusively on the terms of use of these companies, limiting the experience to what they offered to viewers.

Having said all the above and as a final conclusion, the evolution of esports makes the concept of the esports arena become a dynamic and multifaceted concept. However, taking into account that the basic principle that must be respected in any esports competition is the integrity, I would define an esports arena as an space, physical or online, which have been prepared to guarantee that a competition can be performed without incidents and ensuring the health and safety of players, spectators and the competition itself.


[1] National Rules for Electronic Sports Competition: [Wenku.baidu.com], 《国家电子竞技比赛规则》, [2006]. Available at: https://wenku.baidu.com/view/d3d3736dcfc789eb162dc81e.html .

[2] Regulation document on e-sports facilities and qualification certificate:

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[TESFED], “Özel e-spor Salonlari Ve Yeterlilik Belgesi Talimati” [2018]. Available at: https://tesfed.org.tr/uploads/legislations/ozel-e-spor-salonlari-ve-yeterlilik-belgesi-talimati-tr.pdf  (last visited 07th March 2024).

[3] Official Rules of the 2023 Season of the League of Legends European Championship [LEC]: [LEC], “2023 Season Official Rules“. Available at: https://s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/eu-tournament-assets/files/LECRulebook2023v2.pdf 

[4] ESL Pro Tour for Counter Strike. [ESL], “ESL Pro Tour CS General Rules”, [2024]. Available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wcWNdn5YJT0pS8UqquBFR-xYCOVSWaHd/view (last visited 07th March 2024).

[5] Esports Integrity Commission, ‘Code of Conduct’ (Esports Integrity Commission) https://esic.gg/codes/code-of-conduct/. Accessed 7 March 2024.

Author

  • Alex Barbarà

    Established as a lawyer in Barcelona, I am specialized in data protection and information security, I have always seen esports as my third way of specialization. I started as a consultant for amateurs or semi-professional teams, players, or even streamers, trying to give advice and solutions to the habitual legal problems of those stakeholders. This was in a context where it seemed that no possible legal solutions could be applied, but people wanted things to be done well. This led me to publish a blog where I could share all my thoughts or solutions to those problems to help the growing Spanish ecosystem. I combine these with self-investigations about the international esports scene and its regulation. I am on a spiral of question-answer about how things were done in other countries, which I try to share in my blog with non-canonical texts for the average internet visitor. This led me to my first book, “Sin leyes no hay competición” (No laws, no competition), an insightful discourse on the foundational public regulations of esports and their prospective impacts on forthcoming legislative frameworks. Nowadays, I maintain that same spirit but with different approaches. Recently, I have published some of my specific esports country/legislation context that I titled “El avance de los esports en…” (The advance of esports in…), which I want to be a collaborative text where people help me in my writings. To know more about me, visit: www.alexbarbara.es/

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