Help Us Protect the Rights of eSports Athletes

In the eyes of our government, not all games are created equal.

If you followed the #FreeLeffen movement at all you would know this is true. In 2015, William “Leffen” Hjelte’s visa to play Super Smash Bros. competitively in the U.S. was denied because his game was not considered legitimate, even though eSports teams competing in games like League of Legends are granted visas all the time.

Why does the government insist on this disparity? We don’t compare one traditional sport to another, claiming soccer to be a more legitimate game than say basketball or tennis—the commitment, skill and dedication of the athlete are the same. eSports games are no different.

That’s why we’ve joined forces with One Nation of Gamers to take a stand against unfair legislation and poor regulation for our eSports athletes. Watch our PSA, and read our formal press release to find out more and learn how you can get involved:

Video Game Voters Network, One Nation  of Gamers Speak Out on P1 Visas

JUNE 6, 2016 – WASHINGTON, DC – The Video Game Voters Network (VGVN) and One Nation of Gamers (ONOG) will host an eSports competition to raise awareness about the challenges competitive gamers face when applying for P1 visas. The VGVN/ONOG Overwatch Invitational 2 will be streamed live on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/onenationofgamers beginning June 11.

In 2013, the U.S. government recognized eSports competitors as athletes, enabling foreign gamers to apply for P1 visas that grant entry to the United States to compete in major tournaments. However, misunderstandings in determining which video games are considered legitimate eSports hamper competitors’ attempts to obtain these visas.

“P1 visas ensure that the best athletes in the world are able to compete in the U.S. regardless of which sport they play, and eSports competitors should be treated the same,” said Rich Taylor, senior vice president of the Entertainment Software Association. “This tournament will rally the video game community to help lawmakers understand that all eSports should be taken seriously.”

During the VGVN/ONOG Overwatch Invitational 2, VGVN will collect signatures from viewers at http://vgvn.onog.gg/ and deliver them to policymakers at the conclusion of the event. VGVN will also encourage gamers to register to vote and continue to speak out about the importance of supporting the growing eSports scene.

“Recent interest in petitioning the government about P1 visas has been encouraging, however, there is more work to be done in order to ensure that all eSports competitors are treated equally across all games,” said Deric Ortiz, Founder of One Nation of Gamers. “It’s time for gamers of all types to come together and work with VGVN to lobby the government and resolve this issue for good.”

Top teams from the Overwatch competitive community, including Cloud9, Reunited, Team Liquid, EnVyUs, Luminosity Gaming and Gale Force, have been invited to compete in the three week tournament for a prize pool of $15,000. The remaining four tournament slots will be filled through open qualifiers hosted by ONOG on June 7 and 10. Tournament pool play will begin on June 11 at 6 PM EDT, and continue for two weekends culminating in a championship weekend starting on June 24.

Schedule (all games will be broadcast on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/onenationofgamers)

June 7 – Open Qualifier 1 – 6 PM EDT
June 10 – Open Qualifier 2 – 8 PM EDT
June 11 – Pool Play – 8 PM EDT
June 12 – Pool Play – 8 PM EDT
June 18 – Pool Play – 8 PM EDT
June 19 – Pool Play – 8 PM EDT
June 24 – Playoffs – 8 PM EDT
June 25 – Playoffs – 8 PM EDT
June 26 – Grand Finals – 8 PM EDT

The Video Game Voters Network is grassroots coalition of more than one million voting-age gamers who take action on issues affecting computer and video games. For more information, visit the VGVN website or follow us on Twitter @VideoGameVoters.

One Nation of Gamers is a grassroots video game event organization that focuses on providing an avenue for gamers to realize their dreams by providing an opportunity to test their metal against the world’s greatest competitors. To keep up with the latest online and offline events, follow One Nation of Gamers on Twitter @ONOGesports or Instagram @OneNationOfGamers.

 

Will you join us? We are only a megaphone, amplifying the concerns of our fellow gamer activists. Defending video games from poor legislation begins and ends with thousands of individuals like you adding their voices to the fray.

Visit vgvn.onog.gg today to tell lawmakers why all eSports should be taken seriously and we’ll deliver your message to Capitol Hill.

All athletes are athletes. All rights should be the same.

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The time for gamers to stand up and speak out is now! Your voice could not be more important. Take the first step to protect video games — join VGVN today.