Esports in Argentina
Esports are a form of competition using video games that can be individual or in groups of people. These games can be played on consoles like Xbox and Playstation and others can be played using a PC, it can be online or at a physical event. Competitive tournaments of video games are played all around the world, especially among professional gamers. Esports have recently become very popular in Argentina and gained recognition through festivals, platforms and a law project.
Ever since video games first appeared on screen, people have always been mesmerized and entertained by gaming. The early days of competitive computer games date back to the 1950s. In 1958, the first real multiplayer game, “Tennis for Two”, was presented and it allowed two people to play against each other. Today, this game is considered to be the beginning of Esports. In the 1990s, it became clear that the future of competitive gaming would be found in PCs and networks since hardware became more affordable and PCs became interesting for private households. In this context, graphics began to improve and the Internet expanded all around the world. These factors contributed to the development of Esports as a major sport and eventually, gaming over the network exerted an ever-increasing fascination. Consequently, more and more gamers started to meet at small network sessions to play their favorite games, it is believed that in these meetings the first clans of Esports emerged. Soon, these clans converted into teams, and they started to play professionally and compete against each other in tournaments.
Nowadays, Esports have established itself in many countries, and the number of tournaments that are organized in each country increases every year. Moreover, the prize money that is given away to the winners has risen sharply, hence many people contend that a multi-billion dollar market has emerged because Esports events are gaining popularity, and most importantly, the attention of many investors.
Esports in Argentina
Today, it is frequently heard that Esports is growing exponentially around the globe, and Argentina is no exception to this rule. Compared to other countries in Asia, Europe, or North America the introduction of Esports in Argentina is somewhat slower for different reasons as regards culture and economy.
Argentina is a Latin American country that does not have the monetary resources that other first-world countries have. For instance, it was around the year 2003 when Internet broadband began to exist in Argentina and people started to play competitive video games, while in the rest of the world, people had been competing against each other since the 1990s. Shortly, people who were interested in video gaming started to organize themselves into teams and held gatherings and competitions in places known as “cybers”. These places were very popular in the 2000s and there were many of them in every neighborhood of the country. Cybers offered people the possibility to have access to a computer and to the Internet by paying an hourly fee since not everybody owned a computer and the access to the Internet in their own homes was too expensive. The competitions held at that time are believed to be the first steps of Esports in Argentina.
As regards the cultural limitations that Argentina was exposed to with the inclusion of Esports, it can be mentioned that a great number of people, up until today, are reluctant to the idea of professional competitive gaming since they believe that videogames are a thing for children and that playing it means a waste of time. There is much controversy around this issue because it is difficult for some Argentineans to understand that video games are played at a professional level just like any other sport and, in fact, some players get to make a living out of the competitions and tournaments organized in the country.
In recent years, thanks to technological advances and the access to the Internet available to almost everyone in the country, the amount of people who decided to play Esports and, specifically, the number of people who began to practice Esports at a professional level has increased considerably. Being a pro gamer requires a lot of dedication and discipline just like being a professional player of any other sport. When a group of players decides to create a team, they begin to train many hours per day individually and, other times, together with the other members of the team. Teams have a coach who analyzes strategies and helps them organize the way the team is going to play in the category to which they belong. Also, teams receive assistance from psychologists, physical trainers, nutritionists, physiotherapists, among others. Just like any other athlete, professional Esports players have typical injuries, they need to have a training routine, and to maintain their physical condition so as not to weaken due to sedentary lifestyle, besided, they need to receive psychological assistance before and during competitions.
Esports law project in Argentina
As the practice of Esports at a professional level became more noticeable, in 2018 a group of deputies presented a law project that intended to recognize Esports as an actual sport to regulate this practice and give access to it to everyone. This law project stated that the traditional concept of sports is characterized by greater use of the body over the mind, i.e., physical qualities are highlighted in the practice of every sports discipline. However, in 1998, with the inclusion of chess as an official sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the concept of sports was redefined. Without further discussion, numerous experts from different countries have come to the conclusion that Esports are in fact an actual sport. The Argentinean deputies that presented the project contended that some of the reasons for recognizing Esports as a sport were the careful planning, precise synchronization, and skillful execution of the players necessary to obtain victory, as well as the preparation, practice, and intense training involved in the practice of Esports.
In addition to the redefinition of the concept of sports, the law project was also intended to extend access to Esports to all children, adolescents, and adults throughout the national territory. Deputies considered Esports as a means of socialization, entertainment, and learning. Esports give people the opportunity to develop physical, psychological, and social benefits by enabling them to strengthen their self-esteem, expand their social relationships, and stimulate their sense of belonging to a particular group. Moreover, the project proposed to give people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in a sport that enables them to feel integrated into society without the need for any special adaptation or equipment.
Surprisingly, this law project was immediately rejected by the gamer community because in Section 3 it was stated that violent video games or any game with images of rage, aggression, or cruelty will not be considered Esports. The only games that fit into this category are the ones that involve real-time strategy and card games. This classification left out many of the most popular video games nowadays such as Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Dota2, Overwatch, PUBG, Fortnite, Call of Duty, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, among others. The gamer community proposed that certain aspects of the project would be changed but their claim remains unfinished until this day.
Even though the law project has not become official, the Esports industry in Argentina continues to be very active. In the year 2017, an official association called DEVA (Asociación de Deportes Electrónicos y Videojuegos de Argentina) was created to work towards the professionalization of Esports. DEVA promotes the development of Esports in the country from a competitive, educational, and social perspective. This association is formed by young professionals who share a great passion for sports and for video games. DEVA promotes awareness of the benefits of playing video games.
Academic training on esports
One of the most interesting things is that DEVA offers an online academic course for all those people who want to learn about the opportunities and business industry of video games and competitions. The course addresses psychological, nutritional, sports, legal, commercial, leadership, and team management aspects of Esports, among others. Moreover, they invite people to take a course about Esports and video games at UNRN University (Universidad Nacional de Río Negro) in which participants receive a certification issued by the university. Students will learn how to properly train players, marketing strategies, and knowledge related to the industry.
A popular platform to play Esports at a university level is University Esports Argentina, which is officially sponsored by GGTECH Entertainment and it connects people from different universities from all over the country with the Esports environment. This platform arrived in Argentina in 2021 and it seeks to promote various educational activities, scholarships, and tournaments approved by universities nationwide. They suggest students to participate in an exciting competition in which the best players from each university will compete for the national title and important prizes. University Esports Argentina competitions are official and it has exclusive license agreements with all the videogame developers included in University Esports, this means that it is the only official university league in Latin America that is allowed to hold these kinds of national and international competitions with the support of important brands that partner with the platform.
Argentina Game Show Esports festival
Argentina Game Show is one of the most important gaming festivals of the region about videogames, technology and entertainment. Different professional Esports organizations are part of this event each year in which they can play tournaments against different teams in games chosen by the event organizers. One popular organization that will participate in the 2021 Game Show edition is KRÜ founded by the famous Argentine footballer Sergio ‘’Kun’’ Agüero. The organization has official teams for games such as Valorant and FIFA 21. The videogames that have been played in most of the editions of the festival are Valorant, Fortnite, Counter Strike, League of Legends, FIFA, F1 2021, NBA 2K and iRacing. The event also works with media partners such as radio stations that broadcast the festival and with websites dedicated to the news about gaming. Game Show also partners with different organizations dedicated to the coordination of esports competencies in Latin America. Most of the partners, media and competitors will be announced later on when the date of the event is closer.
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