The crucial need for esports guidelines in Kenya

Sylvia Gathoni

Nation Media Group Head of Broadcasting Monicah Ndungu (left) presents an award to esports athlete Sylvia Gathoni during the Top 40 under 40 Women’s gala dinner in Nairobi on March 10, 2023.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Rules being altered mid-competition or ambiguous dispute resolutions have been reported. 
  • Some tournament organisers have in the past failed to deliver promised prizes to the gamers.

In our extensive dialogues with the Kenyan esports community, a tapestry of narratives —both inspiring and disheartening — unveiled a resounding call for the safeguarding of the esports space.

Among the resonating concerns, the need for guidelines for tournament organisers emerged as a pivotal area, demanding immediate attention — a call that we wholeheartedly echo, given that most publishers are not involved in the esports tournaments played in Kenya and Africa at large.

First is the integrity of competitions. Instances of rules being altered mid-competition or ambiguous dispute resolutions have been reported. 

To address this, we propose that all tournament organisers abide by a common rule set for certain aspects applicable across different titles, tied with adherence to specific rules set by publishers, to ensure fair play and alignment with globally adopted standards.

This also involves tracking player misconduct collaboratively. Tournament organisers can contribute to a common database maintained by the federation by providing match reports that record disciplinary incidents.

Tournament prizes

These publicly available records will help in identifying and sanctioning repeat offenders.

The issue of prizes is another thorny area, with some tournament organisers failing to deliver promised prizes to the gamers. Transparency is key in combating this. 

Tournament organisers will be mandated to provide evidence of prizes before tournaments and legally commit to prize disbursement, facing disciplinary actions if they fail to meet these obligations.

Safety standards, especially concerning crowd control, also come into focus. Tournament organisers must exhibit clear crowd control measures, in events with live spectators or huge turnout of participants. 

Collaboration with the federation is crucial, requiring tournament organisers to disclose venue details in advance, outline first aid and paramedic provisions, and prioritize the safety of players and spectators. 

Data mining

We have also had reports of data mining during tournament registration stages. Proposed measures include requiring tournament organisers to collect only relevant and legally permissible data while adhering to the Data Protection Act.

A common template of the tournament registration form can be developed.

These, and much more, can only be implemented through the accreditation of tournament organisers by the federation, requiring adherence to specific criteria before they organize tournaments. 

We cannot afford to wait for disaster to strike. It is our responsibility to not only prevent such an eventuality, but also to provide a conducive environment for the growth of esports in Kenya.

With these guidelines and collaboration, we can all make esports better.

Ronny Lusigi is the President of Esports Kenya Federation