With the advancement of technology, media, and entertainment, various ways of interacting and engaging in activities from home have been created. In this context, we can highlight video games and online gaming, which have advanced their platforms and interactive programs, allowing users to compete in various championships and different modes of virtual gameplay, both in team-based and individual formats.
Due to the establishment of defined competition categories in electronic games, these games have come to be considered sports, more precisely eSports. To qualify as eSports, where players and competitors are recognized as athletes, it must involve professional game competitions taking place on a digital platform, involving two or more competitors (either individuals or teams) in online or in-person synchronous matches, designed to be accessible to an audience.
Once these professional players fall into this category, they are considered athletes and, as such, are entitled to all the rights of athletes in any other sport. Consequently, players are also eligible to apply for athlete visas to the United States, such as the P-1 or O-1 visas, as explained in our post on athlete visas.
Both visa categories allow the entry of competition participants into the country, intended for distinguished professionals in the field, including the world of gaming. Professionals from games with major competitions and international recognition, such as League of Legends, CS:GO, FIFA, and Fortnite, have already achieved success in obtaining their visas.
It is also worth mentioning that, according to the Entertainment Software Association, in 2009, the gaming industry in the United States had sales exceeding $10 billion and employed over 32,000 people in 34 states. This proves to be a growing market in the country, ensuring good profitability for professionals.
As eSports are considered sports, they have also opened doors in the academic field. Many American universities now have sports programs dedicated to eSports. In recent years, the profitability that these sports are bringing to their sponsors, schools, teams, and athletes is so significant that it has led American universities to offer scholarships to eSports student-athletes, just like traditional sports.