The branding of esports as a sport category and the holding of esports events in schools, are examples of support given by Thai officials to the gaming market. Despite the growing number of gaming addicts, mostly youths who show little interests in their studies, Thai’s policy makers have yet to develop laws aimed at addressing the perceived negative impact, including violent consequences, of unbridled video gaming on Thai’s society. While there are ongoing discussions, the proposed policies put forward as Gaming Act by the national Health Commission Office are still undergoing deliberations.

The Gaming Act, which is sub-captioned as “Supervision for the Protection of Children and Juveniles, has put Thai lawmakers in a position where they have to strike a balance between child protection and supporting the gaming industry

As news about such a proposal leaked by esports media across the country’s population of gamers, it immediately sparked outrage among Thai gamers and stakeholders in the gaming business. Imposing a ban on FPS games was regarded by many as a violation of their fundamental right to play the kind of games they want to play.

Proposed child protection laws against the harmful effects of gaming include limiting streaming of games to up to two hours due to emerging health concerns. However, Thai mobile operator Advanced Info Service (AIS) reported that there are about 27.8 million gamers in the country, which brought a 16.6% increase in revenue of 23.3 billion baht in 2019. If the growth trend continues, mobile gaming revenues for the current year can be expected to likewise increase to 27 million bahts.

The Gaming Act Draft Includes Involving the
Thailand e-Sports Federation (TESF) in Implementing eSports Gaming Laws

Teerarat Pantawee, the head of the Youth Radio and Media Association, said that many children in Thailand dream of becoming professional esports players. This is why they regard their gaming as an important part of their training to become an esport athlete. On their part, Ms Pantawee said that their subcommittee has been holding a series of events that aim to provide information that parents can use in managing their children’s gaming activity. That includes providing explanations on why the road to becoming a professional esports player is not an easy one for kids to take.

According to Ms. Pantawee, a research provided by the Department of Mental Health, showed that out of 1 million children playing games, only ten can become professional esports athletes, while between 100,000 and 200,000 are at risk of becoming problem gamers.

In line with such findings, one of the key takeaways of the proposed Gaming Act requires the TeSF to create standard guidelines for esports competition and qualifications in order to forge in-depth understanding about esports as a profession.

The proposed Gaming Act makes the TeSF duty bound to develop esports competition manuals in which children must present written permission from parents to join esports competitions. This is in line with the rating guidelines pertaining to age-appropriate game content to be defined under administrative regulations.

Actually, many of Thailand’s youth, even up to age 25 seek assistance from providers of professional gaming services like to help them set up gaming accounts. The purpose of which is not to cheat, but to at least have a good headstart in competing with highly-skilled players who have been dominating the virtual worlds of their gaming environment.

While the approach goes against the grain of traditional gaming, it can be said that it helps sustain the growth trend of the country’s gaming market. Otherwise, millions will easily lose interest participating in video games that they find stressful and frustrating.

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