Could a Players Union Come to eSports?

They do it in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and other sports leagues. Could a players union come to eSports?

Carleigh Morgan offers a thoughtful look in Motherboard: “Esports is also hobbled by a global lack of standardization, stymied by failures to consistently apply ‘best practice,’ and is structurally designed to exploit the labour of young professional gamers. For an industry that has really only gathered traction in the last five years, esports has already established a shameful tradition of mis-managing contracts, overworking players, and encouraging them to sign draconian non-compete clauses—agreements that prohibit players from competing in unsanctioned tournaments or bolstering their unpredictable, tournament-supplied incomes with more dependable modes of making money, like streaming on Twitch or getting paid for promotional appearances.

Many people have raised concerns about the systemic mistreatment of players in esports. Often, members of the esports community, especially those who have witnessed its dramatic evolution from the early days of cobbled together LAN events, place the blame for player exploitation and lack of unionization on the shoulders of megalithic corporations, sponsors, and league entities that control the players.”

Morgan continues: “The struggle to unionize is due to a complicated constellation of legal, political, and structural factors that also implicates the players themselves as part of the problem. Some preliminary steps have already been taken to establish a multi-platform esports coalition capable of ‘bargaining collectively’ (not to be confused with the legal term, collective bargaining), but as esports lawyer Bryce Blum makes clear, ‘this is not a union.'”


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