SINGAPORE: The world's first global governing body for e-sports was launched on Monday (Dec 16) to develop the "credibility, legitimacy and prestige" of the sport.
Headquartered in Singapore, the Global Esports Federation (GEF) has a three-fold mission: To collaborate and grow e-sports, act as a forum to develop a sustainable ecosystem and be the voice and authority for international e-sports coordination, said GEF in a media release.
It will also develop and stage the first Global Esports Games next year.
E-sports took a step into the sporting mainstream with its debut at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) earlier this month, marking the first time competitive gaming has been a medal event at an Olympic-recognised multi-sport competition.
Aside from creating a flagship Global Esports Games, GEF also aims to encourage the establishment of national e-sports federations with a set of standards and regulations, set up an athlete commission and develop world-class governance structures and guidelines.
The new global body is headed by president Mr Chris Chan, who is also secretary-general of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).
“Hopefully, e-sports will be less misunderstood and ultimately, we hope that the sports can then be featured on the highest stage, which is the Olympic Games,” said Mr Chan.
Responding to questions about how the body will enforce its standards, Mr Chan said the system will be similar to that of a National Olympic Committee (NOC), where members have to accept and comply with regulations before they are recognised as an official e-sports association that can take part in the Global Esports Games.
With various international e-sports associations such as the International Esport Federation (IeSF) based in Busan, South Korea, already in place, Mr Chan stressed that GEF is unique because it intends to work with the NOCs around the world.
“The time is right for us to come out and put some structure in place,” he said, adding that the implementation will be “certainly not so smooth”, and that he expects hiccups.
“We don’t mean to be competitive with IeSF, they might see us as a threat but that’s certainly not our idea.”
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Federation membership is open to international and national federations, publishers, developers, sponsors, event organisers and cities and other non-government organisations.
Its first partner, announced on Monday, is Tencent. The Chinese technology company is behind popular battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile (PUBG) and Call of Duty Mobile.
Vice president of Tencent Edward Cheng will also serve as vice president of the Federation.
On the local front, Mr Chan said that he was “quite happy” that Singapore was able to gather a team of its best e-sports athletes for the SEA Games.
He hopes that the Global Esports Games next year will see “a good representation of players” from all participating countries.
According to research firm Newzoo, global e-sports revenue is set to increase nearly 27 per cent to US$1.1 billion this year, surpassing the US$1 billion mark for the first time.
Estimated e-sports audience will reach 453.8 million people, a year-on-year growth of 15 per cent.
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“At the moment, these games, e-sports, in all these competitions, there’s a lot of money involved," said Mr Chan.
"At the end of it all, some people want to participate for the pride of the flag on the chest, not just money.
“We hope to eventually turn the narrative around a bit and say yes it’s about money, but it’s also about pride of representing your country at the highest level,” he added.