It is of great importance to examine acts of violence resulting from the competitive environment in e-sport games where the games are played individually as well as a team, also where the physical and mental attributions are prominent, and the legal character of such acts. The sanctions for acts of violence caused by e-sports players or third parties involving in the games without playing are, in general, determined by the respective publishers of the game based on the tournament rules.
As such, some proactive measures are taken by means of rules concerning instant measures by the publishers such as conversation filters, along with acts occurring during the games. That said, such sanctions are considered under private law relationships, whereas e-sports are of sportive nature, therefore the provisions laid down under the Code on Prevention of Violence and Irregularities in Sports numbered 6222 ("the Code") are important from the aspect of the enforcement of the code in terms of e-sports. In this article, an attempt will be made to examine the applicability of the Code for e-sports.
II.E-SPORTS AND VIOLENCE
E-sports ecosystem has become widely known as compared to many other popular sports branches, thanks to its swift rise. According to the data associated with 2018, it is considered that in Turkey, there are more than 4.000 (four thousand) licensed e-sports players, while more than 4.000.000 (four million) supporters.1 Given the quantitative size which the e-sports ecosystem has, it becomes obvious that e-sports have achieved, within 4-5 years, the popularity of football, which has had the highest popularity so far, and which has reached its present point in 40-50 years. Therefore, the speed in the rise of e-sports ecosystem demonstrates that it has become essential to take proactive measures and such speed will likely lead to many problems swiftly. In particular, in this respect, it is of great importance to examine acts of violence in e-sports given the facts and figures of e-sports.
It can be seen that considering sui generis structure of the e-sports ecosystem and e-sports games, the term violent is different as concerns the violence figure in traditional sports. As such, it must be determined whether acts for which sanctions are set out under the Code falls within the scope of the Code. In the first place, in article 2 of the Code titled "Scope", it is clearly provided for;
"security measures that will be implemented, before, during or after games, in sports fields and thereabout, and in places where the supporters are temporarily or continuously present in groups or in onward and backward routes to the place where the game will be played, or in the places where teams make camping, match-fixing, provocation bonus and any other prohibited acts and behaviours, the sanctions that will be imposed thereon, the duties and the responsibilities of sports clubs, the managers thereof, their players and their officials, police force or officials of private security, referees, supporters, supporter associations, supporter representatives, sports federations, written or visual or audio mass communication institutions and of its members, and other related persons and institutions regarding the points on the violence and irregularities in sports games..."
Besides, as set out in the paragraph (g) of the article 3 of the Code titled "Definitions", it is indicated that the Sport Fields defines the areas where sports games or training take place, and excursion spots dedicated to the audience or places where teams make camping.
In view of the points provided above regarding the scope and definitions, it is considered that despite the fact that such expressions are in effect for e-sports as well, definitions regarding e-sports should be added to the corresponding section in the Code, for the purpose of compliance of the implementation of the provisions which create crimes with the principle of legality, According to the Code, in particular, the e-sports arenas where e-sports games are played and many audiences are present are sport field and should be subject to the obligations provided for in the Code. Besides, any further regulations that will provide for that training areas and places where teams make camping will, from the aspect of e-sports, enable Gaming Houses to fall under sports fields. In this regard, by means of several subparagraphs that will be added in particular to the definitions section, any disputes that may arise out of the obligations set out under the Code will have been precluded.
It is worth mentioning that, speaking of the violence in sports, although acts of violence between supporters' groups are at stake in the first place, unfair acts that do not fit in fair play spirit by professional players may occasionally become an issue. Another difference to point out here is the meaning burdened on the term violence. When mentioning acts of violence in sports, physical attacks or physical fight comes to mind. However, such definition does not totally reflect the fact. Any verbal, visual or written acts conducted by persons or communities may be of violent nature in a delineation of the term violence in sports. In particular, becoming aware of sex-related attacks in Gaming Houses in recent times, leading to displease the whole ecosystem, and conflicts long-known and which arise out of players being too young, pull the ecosystem down. The need for regulation of such a case which can be considered pursuant to article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code ("TPC") titled "Insult" under the Code of a more specific nature gains higher importance due to the significance of Gaming Houses for e-sports.
The critical point in examination of the Code's applicability for e-sports games concerns the fact that the term "Sport Game" is defined under the paragraph I of the article 3 of the Code titled "Definitions" as "any kind of sportive games or competition which are laid out or the layout of which are allowed or contributed by federations,". However, as explained before, many of the games are laid out by publishers in e-sports ecosystem. Accordingly, in terms of the Code, regard must be had to e-sports games which are laid out by the Federation itself or allowed by it. However, exclusion of the tournaments and leagues laid out by the publishers from this scope does not totally ensure the goals pursued by the legislator. In this regard, it will be convenient to provide for that the organisations by publishers are added to the definitions.
III.E-SPORT AND MATCH-FIXING IN TERMS OF THE CODE
As it is known by the e-sports followers, e-sports games fit better in the fair play spirit as compared to other sport activities. No fanatic spirit in the ecosystem and as well as ecosystem being narrow and comprising of a community who care others prevent, beforehand, many issues. Apart from all these, although e-sports are growing, it has not achieved an economical power as compared to other popular sports branches. Also, subjects such as match-fixing have never been an issue as a result of the lessening or elimination of relagation and promotion in the leagues upon the decisions adopted by game publishing companies. However, the recent topic on betting has foreshadowed that various issues may arise in terms of e-sports.
Betting is among the top income channels for sports activities. Since the e-sports are an area where game publishers play a big role, income channels that may be regulated by states are of great importance for e-sports. Betting, which is of great importance from commercial asppect, may also give rise to certain issues in e-sports.
In the subparagraph 1 of article 11 of the Code provides for as in the followings;
"Any person who provides earning or any other benefits, for the purpose of affecting a sports game result, shall be punished with prison sentence from one year to three years and judicial fine up to twenty thousand days. Any person to whom benefits are provided shall be punished, for this crime, as accomplice. Even in case of conclusion of an agreement with respect to insurance of earnings or any other benefits, the penalty shall be sentenced as though the crime has been committed."
and defines the term match-fixing. Match-fixing defines any acts which are conducted to affect the sports games results. Commercial values attributed as per the respective sports activity and in particular, of the game lead to higher motivation for match-fixing. In this regard, the fact that the e-sports ecosystem does not possess great economical power yet and its actors are youngsters may give rise to risks for match-fixing to a great extent. In order to be able to mention match-fixing, pursuant to article 11 of the Code, the parties, by ensuring any benefits, must conclude an agreement to affect the result of the respective game, and the said act must affect the result of the respective game. Only when the said elements occur together, can one state that match-fixing has taken place. In this respect, for the purpose of implementation of the said provision under the Code, it is considered that regulations regarding the e-sports should be added to the Code.
E-sports is a fast-growing sports branch which is attractive to the large societies in our country. However, the e-sports ecosystem brings about certain issues. The economical potential and issues held by the e-sports activities are of a specific nature, as such specific regulations must be made. In particular, betting, which is an important threshold from commercial aspects, may lead to match-fixing. Apart from all these, in consideration of the sui generis structure of e-sports and non-encompassing of the common regulations for other sports branches, it is of great importance to consider specific facts such as the assessment of Gaming Houses, the acts conducted therein; and online correspondence and violence in written during the training games between e-sports teams. In this regard, it will not be a fair or correct remedy to et all responsibilities to civil law agreements or game publishers.
1 Gençlik ve Spor Bakanlığı, Espor Raporu, s.58, 2018
Originally published 13 July, 2020
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