Sweden officially recognizes esports, and what it means for Indian gaming

Sweden officially recognizes esports, and what it means for Indian gaming

Over the years, gaming has evolved a lot. From being nothing but a pastime for kids from the upper-middle class of society, where they were pushing around a red pixel on a screen, gaming has risen to become a serious career option for many. There are thousands of people across the globe trying their best to be a part of a roster that competes at the highest level, and while getting a lot of fame and recognition, can make enough to sustain their monetary needs as well.

However, this battle for prominence for many players across the globe has been an uphill one. They have had to fight tooth and nail to make sure that they get access to the right resources to make the most of any opportunity that comes their way. There have been diplomatic barriers that have come in the way as well.

For example, recently, some of the best teams in Counter-Strike right now, NAVI, Entropiq, and Virtus Pro, were not able to secure Visas for their visit to the United States and had to back out of one of the biggest tournaments of the year.

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I am sure at this point, most of you would be drawing parallels between esports and sports, where in athletes participating in the latter’s events are given priority access in terms of red tape, care and allocation of funds, and recognition from governments. The last one is something that people have been fighting tooth and nail for. One group of esports gatekeepers were able to make their way and had their government officially recognize esports as sports.

This news came from Sweden on the evening of May 28, where after a two-year struggle, the Swedish e-Sports Federation was able to get official recognition as a member of the National Sports Federation of Sweden. I will not go into the details of this issue, as it has more to do with politics than tech and gaming. However, this acceptance would lead to the betterment of the players and their federation in more ways than one.

For example, let’s take the example of The International from July 2021. The International is the biggest DOTA tournament of the year. At the time, due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, many attendees of the tournament were not able to get Visas to enter the country. This would not have been the case if the esports federation was a part of the larger conglomerate of sports federations in Sweden. If it were the case, the athletes would have gotten Visas because they would have been recognised as sportspersons.

Could it start the dawn of a new era?

Now, why am I writing about something that has happened in Sweden? Well, the reason is simple – Policy-making in any country is heavily reliant on and inspired by precedents. This means that if India were to take a similar stance on esports, with the national body recognising it as a sport, then it could open up a ton of possibilities for Indian esports athletes.

It would give them access to –

Better professional guidance and care

Access to monetary subsidies and facilities from the government

Increased support from the fans and organisations that are operational in the country

Increased interest from overseas organisations

Right now, the Indian esports scene is as ripe as it has ever been. Things had started off strong in India, and there were roadblocks that came in the way of the scene growing into something spectacular. *cough* Word.exe *cough*

However, after the arrival of PUBG: Mobile and similar battle royale titles on mobile phones and then later, Valorant, has been like a breath of fresh air for the Indian esports scene. Released last year, the State of India Gaming Report 2022 forecasted that the number of esports players in India grew about four times between 2021 and 2022, and it is expected to grow a further two and a half times in the next five years.

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While these are just a number of players in India, the Indian esports scene has a monetary side to it. The same report also mentions that the Indian esports industry is set to grow by $140 million by 2027. 

Enough about the numbers

I have spoken about the numbers and stats a lot. But the main thing is – What the road ahead looks like? From what I can see as a small stakeholder and a keen observer in this scenario, the Indian esports scene is set to follow the same path as the Swedish scene.

We already have a gatekeeper in the esports space – the Electronic Sports Federation of India (ESFI). They are already registered with the International Esports Federation (IESF), Global Esports Federation (GEF) and Asian Esports Federation (AESF). This is the first parallel that can be drawn between the situation in Sweden and India. Now, if we were to draw a roadmap for the Indian esports scene, it would have a similar trajectory to that of Sweden.

The players and ESFI, along with other stakeholders in this issue, go ahead and speak with the authorities. With the government’s push for digitisation and the apparent support of digital growth of citizens, the approaching parties can make a case in favour of the official recognition of the Indian scene. That is when the real battle begins. We will need to take the case of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries like Denmark where esports are already recognised to be more than just a band of new age misfits looking to make a career which stands out in the crowd.

I know that this looks to be something that would last for ages. However, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even the Swedish authorities took time before making the final call. So, we will have to be ready for a long drawn process. But, from the looks of things, the path looks clear.

Let us know what you think of this decision, by writing to us at editor@skoar.in! We’d be happy to hear from you. Happy Gaming!

Satvik Pandey

Satvik Pandey

Satvik Pandey, is a self-professed Steve Jobs (not Apple) fanboy, a science & tech writer, and a sports addict. At Digit, he works as a Deputy Features Editor, and manages the daily functioning of the magazine. He also reviews audio-products (speakers, headphones, soundbars, etc.), smartwatches, projectors, and everything else that he can get his hands on. A media and communications graduate, Satvik is also an avid shutterbug, and when he's not working or gaming, he can be found fiddling with any camera he can get his hands on and helping produce videos – which means he spends an awful amount of time in our studio. His game of choice is Counter-Strike, and he's still attempting to turn pro. He can talk your ear off about the game, and we'd strongly advise you to steer clear of the topic unless you too are a CS junkie. View Full Profile