Pro Gamers Can Now Qualify For US Competition Visas
What’s the Latest Development?
Gamers from outside the US can now travel to this country to compete in professional tournaments, thanks to a recent concession from US Immigration and Citizenship Services allowing them to receive a special visa similar to those given to athletes from other countries. Riot Games, the company behind the wildly successful League of Legends, spearheaded the effort to create the new classification, which will arrive just in time for the game’s world championship tournament in October.
What’s the Big Idea?
Apparently Riot used numbers to help make its case: For this year’s competition, the total prize pot will be US$8 million, with a whopping $1 million of that going to winning teams. Last season’s championship was watched by 8.1 million people, including 1.1 million online on the day of the final — a number only slightly below the viewing audience for David Beckham’s American debut. In addition, the tournament will be held in Los Angeles’ Staples Center as well as two additional locations. Writer Scott Smith notes that while this is great news for non-US gamers, and signals growing recognition of gaming’s economic value, “[hopefully] the US government will start taking a similar view of those who actually create the games, rather than just those who collect the prizes.”