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5 Legal Practice Areas esports Will Impact

Volume 37 , Number 3

Saint Petersburg, Russia — October 2017: Counter Strike: Global Offensive cyber sport event. The Brazilian team celebrates their SK Gaming win by carrying the trophy cup.


While esports might seem like a fringe hobby, it’s a billion-dollar, worldwide industry that’s garnering sponsors from household names like Coca-Cola. It’s even stealing young viewers from watching the Super Bowl. In ACC Docket’s April 2019 cover story, authors Ellen M. Zavian and Jim Schmitz analyze how the 600-employee workforce is changing labor regulations and stress why in-house counsel should pay attention to the growing online phenomenon. Here, the authors expand on how esports will directly impact more in-house practice areas and list the jargon that esports clients might use.

Practice areas impacted by esports

1. Labor and employment

As esports teams and organizations work to determine and standardize the employment status of pro gamers — either as employees or independent contractors — and deal with the question of single or joint employers, they will set precedents that, combined with rulings from entities like the US National Labor Relations Board, will create new parameters and definitions in these subjects — paving the way for future industries, sports or otherwise.

2. Sports and entertainment

Forum shopping in traditional sports organizations is quite common, but while many sports organizations are national or regional, esports are driven by the internet and are inherently global.

Thus, they have the potential to take forum shopping to a more expansive level. In response, many countries may look to develop legislation that addresses forum shopping on an international scale — and lead other countries to do the same, creating a wave of new regulations.

3. Intellectual property

esports differ from traditional sports in that game publishers own their intellectual property and are in complete control of the emerging industry, creating hurdles and opportunities for IP legislation in areas from entity structure to employee rights to incorporation. However, as questions regarding rights to intellectual property are answered, they will influence the formation of this industry and others that touch intellectual property.

4. Privacy

As esports grapple with issues involving privacy and personal data, for both players and fans, they will contribute to the conversation of who owns specific data and at what point privacy should or should not be considered. The results of these decisions may cause national and international privacy laws to consider budding technology industries in new ways.

5. Cross-borders

By their nature, esports are international — being played across the globe in local and transnational contests. Due to the potential to be included in the International Olympic community, there is the likelihood that a global organization to represent esports will be created.

As this organization will have to deal with new issues in an international context like IP litigation and balancing players rights and needs, it might create a new standard for nontraditional international sports and industries — charting a course for new sports that may be invented in coming years.

esport terminology

ACE: To kill all enemy champions at the same time is to ace the enemy team.

BUFF (noun): An effect that increases the power of a player, often earned by meeting certain conditions within a game.
“That's the second dragon buff for Cloud9. They'll be doing so much more damage next fight.”

CASTER (noun): Similar to a streamer, but unlike actually playing games, the caster focuses more on commentating on the gameplay of other players. In 2015, most high-level competitive games have casting options built right into the user interface for this sort of thing to be possible.
“My favorite caster is Day9, I love how knowledgeable he is on StarCraft as well as his affable personality.”

CHEESE (noun):
A strategy that attempts to exploit the mechanics of a game in an unfair, wonky, or otherwise “cheesy” way. Cheese is generally looked down on by the community as unsportsmanlike or indicative of a lack of skill.
“Man, the deck this guy is using is so cheesy.”

COMMIT: To commit to a fight is to use abilities that could be used defensively for offensive purposes, or in other ways become incapable of getting out of the fight other than by winning it.

DAMAGE: An effect of a spell that causes the recipient to lose health, or the loss of health by a unit, or a verb meaning "to deal damage."

DEATH: When a champion is killed, they receive a death.

ESPORT: This refers to competitive and professional gaming in the general sense. It refers to any video game that is played at a highly competitive level, usually for cash and prizes. This word can be used as a noun (usually with a plural verb), when meaning competitive tournaments of video games, especially among professional gamers. This also can be used as an adjective, like esports gambling. Even if “esport” starts a sentence, it should be always a lowercase “e” (AP Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary). Do not use other words, such as e-sports or E-sports.

ESPORT GAMES: This can include card games, sports games, strategy games, and fighting games.

GG (interjection): Short for “good game,” the classic, polite thing to say at the end of a match.
“gg guys, we’ll get you next time.”

GAMING: This is a general term, used when referring to the entire industry.

GANK (verb): An ambush, essentially. Usually used in games like League of Legends and Dota. Getting ganked means someone tried to kill you quickly and efficiently by someone taking you by surprise.
“Let’s go gank the mid-lane, it’ll give us the tempo boost we need.”

INVENTORY: The set of items that a champion owns. A champion has six item slots and one trinket slot maximum for their inventory.

KILL (verb): To kill a unit is to remove it from the map.

META (noun): Short for “metagame.” The term players use in reference to the current dominant strategies, champions, decks, builds, etc. in a multiplayer game. Staying ahead of the meta is key to high-level play.
“Man, all I see are Hunters and Zoolocks, we’re in a very aggressive meta right now.”

NERF (verb): The opposite of a buff, but instead with developers making something weaker.
“Man, Riot has to nerf Sivir, she is insanely powerful.”

NICKNAME/GAMER HANDLE/GAMER TAG: The professional gamer name used by the pro gamer when performing. OP (adjective): An abbreviation of “overpowered.” A term you use to describe something that you think is, well, overpowered and in need of a nerf.
“Akali is so OP. Seriously how has that champion not gotten a nerf yet?”

PROFESSIONAL GAMERS, PRO GAMERS, PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS: These terms can be used when referring to a person who professionally engages in gaming competitions for their profession or career. Please do not use other labels, such as eGamers, e-Gamers, eAthletes, e-Athletes, or people who game.

REKT (verb): What one becomes when they’re wrecked (from which the term is derived), crushed, sniped, pounded, exploited, squashed, snowballed, or otherwise dominated in the realm of esports. Grew out of the “owned” and “pwned” of the Counter-Strike/Warcraft III generation. Essentially, “rekt” means you’re losing very badly.
“Man, I really wasn’t expecting that gank. I got rekt.”

SALT (noun): What one acquires when aggravated, disappointed, or otherwise perturbed by the performance of other players or the randomized elements that are built into gaming as a whole.

SALTY (adjective): The more common way of phrasing “salt” in competitive gaming.
“I’m really salty after that last game, I couldn’t get anything going and Twisted Fate kept stealing my kills.

STRAT (noun): Short for strategy, a general outline for what you want to accomplish with your champion/class/ deck/whatever, and what your win condition looks like.
“I’ve been using this aggro Nunu support strat and it’s really upped my game.”

STREAMER (noun): The backbone of the esports economy. A streamer is someone who streams themselves playing video games (could be anything, but some games, such as StarCraft, League of Legends, Dota 2, and Hearthstone are more popular to watch). Streaming can be done casually or professionally, and most players accept tips for their effort. (See Twitch.)
“My favorite streamer is Sodapoppin, I like his generous schedule and the way he talks through his plays.”

TRIPLE KILL: A triple kill is three kills by the same champion within a short time in between kills.

TWITCH (noun): The biggest name when it comes to streaming video games. Formerly justin.TV, the company rebranded as Twitch in 2011 to focus exclusively on the burgeoning subgenre. These days all the biggest events in esports are broadcast live on the service. If you want to build your reputation in esports, you’re pretty much required to start a Twitch channel.

UNSTOPPABLE: To be “unstoppable” is to get five champion kills in a row without dying in between (no time constraint). Can also be used to mean that the champion is very strong relative to the other champions in the game.

ZONE CONTROL:
The ability to control enemies' movements through an area, particularly during a team fight.
“Man, Reynad’s salt levels are high after he got bad luck after his deck failed him.

About the Authors

Ellen-ZavianEllen M. Zavian was the first female NFL agent and has represented US women’s soccer, softball, break dancers, and extreme athletes. She is now working on forming a players organization for Overwatch. She currently teaches sports/negotiation law at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and she serves as a coach to the GWU Law Students Moot Court program. She was previously CLO and GC of KMStandards, a patented contract drafting technology company. [email protected]

Jim-SchmitzJim Schmitz is a veteran union organizer and strategist based in Maryland. He served as the National Organizing Director for AFSCME for 12 years. He is currently an advisor to the United Automobile Workers union. [email protected]


The information in any resource collected in this virtual library should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on specific facts and should not be considered representative of the views of its authors, its sponsors, and/or ACC. These resources are not intended as a definitive statement on the subject addressed. Rather, they are intended to serve as a tool providing practical advice and references for the busy in-house practitioner and other readers.