Tuesday, July 23, 2013

International Gamers For US Visas To Play

Just when you didn’t think League of Legends could get any bigger, they have successfully lobbied with the US Citizen and Immigration Services to begin issuing visas for professional gamers for tournaments. The visas are good for individual players only and are temporary, but this is a big leap forward not only for Riot’s fame, but in recognizing gaming as a sport. It may not be basketball, but you know what? Curling is a sport. Chess is a sport. Scrabble is a sport. So why not gaming?

Dustin Beck, the VP of eSports at Riot, was glad to see that the ruling was in their favor. Even Canadians coming to the US for tournaments would get held up by customs trying to prove that the reason for their visit was for a sporting event. In this case, playing a game tournament. Going through the process multiple times a year is a burden mentally and financially for gamers. Many eSports professionals do this as a job. They make a living playing games. Missing a few tournaments because of custom hold ups can affect their livelihood.

The change can, over time, apply to other groups such as the Major League Gaming association. Even world-wide tournaments such as Starcraft could potentially loosen up the restrictions that hold back other gamers from joining. So while this may not been a hoorah moment, it does give us something to think about: gaming is becoming a more legitimate sport that the government recognizes it.

Oh and being a video game critic really doesn’t mean squat until we get Leigh Alexander a Pulitzer. Time to start bribing the committee!


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