DURBAN - The ruling party in Japan wants to legalise professional gaming tournaments.
The Japanese join a groundswell that began last year amid conjecture that video games may become an Olympic medal sport by 2024.
Arcane laws currently in place to end illegal gambling, have prevented paid video game tournaments in Japan, curtailing the domestic market even as e-sports have become a multibillion dollar worldwide industry.
Over the past few months, arbitration between the four e-sport groups and Japan's consumer protection agency have produced a workaround to excuse professional gamers from the rules.
Takeo Kawamura, a lawmaker whose is a part of the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said that the Liberal Party might will to go even further by altering laws to make sure people's rights to earn a living playing games.
The goal Kawamura said is to take away hindrances and make is possible to win Olympic medals some day.
Kawamura said, "If we need more legal wiggle room to hold tournaments, we can use a special law or other provisions as needed".
He added that, "once we have a gold medalist like, say, Daichi Suzuki, then people will begin to see" that video games is a real sport, he said, when referring to to the successful Japanese swimmer.
Competitive gaming is still discovering its footing in the Asian country, but is already a huge business globally.
By 2020, a total revenue will reach $5 billion yearly, almost much as the world's largest soccer league today, according to market research Activate.
Tournaments in other Asian countries like China and South Korea usually attracts tens of thousands of people.
Japan is quickly laying the foundation to catch up. At the Olympic committee's insistence, the four e-sports industry groups announced in September that they are combining to lobby more efficiently for paid gaming.
Last year November, lawmakers form both the ruling party and opposition party formed an allied group with Kawamura as the chairman.
Then the next month, the industry announced plans release the industry announced that they will start to issuing licenses exempt people from the gambling laws, similar to Japan's concept to professional balls, baseball and tennis players.
The Asian country's first video game tournament to make use of the new licenses will be held February 9 to 11 at the Makuhari Messe convention centre near Tokyo.
Konami Holdings Corp., Mixi Inc.and three other local companies will provide the game titles. Prizes have to be announced.
Competitive gaming is getting more legitimacy by being included in world sporting events. THis summer's Asian games in Jakarta will have exhibition e-sports tournaments alongside swimming, soccer, and track and field.
At the 2022 Asian Games being hosted in Hangzhou, China, video games will be a medal sport. Organisers of the 2024 Olympics In Paris say they are open to the idea of having video games as an Olympic medal event.
Although e-sports will not be apart of Tokyo's 2020 summer games, Kawamura said that Japan's Olympic Committee and the Tokyo city government have given the go ahead to hold big tournaments in the run up to the games.
He said "We want to hold an international tournament as soon as possible".
"If e-sports becomes an Olympic medal sport, we must field a strong Japanese team".
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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE