Iowa Looks To Legalize Video Game Tournaments

Iowa Looks To Legalize Video Game Tournaments

Flag of Iowa

Iowa law currently limits video game tournaments with prizes to trackball-controlled golf games like Golden Tee.

Believe it or not, the state of Iowa only recognizes a video game tournament as a "bona fide contest" if it involves those golf games that are popular in bars, like Golden Tee Golf, in which you use a big trackball to whack your way around a virtual course. That may soon change, however, thanks to an amendment filed by House Rep. Chris Hagenow, which would recognize any kind of game tournament as legitimate and legalize the payment of awards to winners.

Hagenow's bill eliminates specific references to golf and the restriction of a trackball as the only allowable movement device. "The bill authorizes the paying of awards and prizes to participants in video machine tournament games," it states. "Under current law, only video machine golf tournament games using a trackball assembly are considered bona fide contests."

"It's a very narrow clarification of the law," Hagenow told the Quad City Times. "It does not allow for gambling or wagering or any of those kinds of things. We don't want to go there at all."

I'm not sure how likely it is that this will attract the ESL to Ottumwa, but it's certainly a long overdue change. Unfortunately, according to dumblaws.com, one-armed piano players must still perform for free in the state, but one step at a time, right?

Source: Quad City Times

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I did bit of a doubletake at the headline, as it conjured up images of police raids on internet cafes and League of Legends players being led way in handcuffs.

Mind you, given what I read about the LoL playerbase maybe that wouldn't be a bad thing.

"Under currently law,"
Is that your typo, or the person you're quoting?

Ah Iowa, you never cease to make me proud of living inside you.

All jokes aside, I'm surprised any law was passed to begin with concerning video game tournaments, but my only question is why it was limited to trackball games?

It sounds like the kind of law made to "protect the children" or "stop the evils of gambling" while secretly being lobbied by the companies that make those golf games. Anyone know the story behind it?

RJ Dalton:
"Under currently law,"
Is that your typo, or the person you're quoting?

Wish I could blame it on the source, but nah, that was me. Thanks for the heads-up.

I take a look at the title, I take a look at the flag there, and I think..."Do zey take gamers to ze bastille?".

uchytjes:
All jokes aside, I'm surprised any law was passed to begin with concerning video game tournaments, but my only question is why it was limited to trackball games?

Hairless Mammoth:
It sounds like the kind of law made to "protect the children" or "stop the evils of gambling" while secretly being lobbied by the companies that make those golf games. Anyone know the story behind it?

My best guess is that because those games are most often seen in bars, they got a pass because they're most often played by adults, and possibly due to pressure from bar owners who wanted to keep their options open. It's too oddly specific to be on the books without some particular effort to make it happen, and I can't imagine any other likely reason.

Here in North Carolina we have some of the strictest gambling laws in the United States, but up until recently we had so called sweepstakes parlors that were pretty much becoming video game like gambling places. They had to change the laws so they could sort out which were games of chance and which were games of skill, and which could be legal. I bet Iowa did the same in the past, but the law was so inclusive that it made tournaments illegal.

Andy Chalk:

uchytjes:
All jokes aside, I'm surprised any law was passed to begin with concerning video game tournaments, but my only question is why it was limited to trackball games?

Hairless Mammoth:
It sounds like the kind of law made to "protect the children" or "stop the evils of gambling" while secretly being lobbied by the companies that make those golf games. Anyone know the story behind it?

My best guess is that because those games are most often seen in bars, they got a pass because they're most often played by adults, and possibly due to pressure from bar owners who wanted to keep their options open. It's too oddly specific to be on the books without some particular effort to make it happen, and I can't imagine any other likely reason.

I'd imagine the bottom line is someone petitioned the government to review that type of game specifically at some point, and had enough government connections to actually have it done and the laws passed. After that nobody had the inclination or connections to ever really bring the subject up again for other types of games.

That said I have mixed opinions about most video games actually being tournament-worthy contests of skill, including some popular ones like various fighting games. The reason is simply that the games tend to be fairly imbalanced in many cases and in a lot of cases it's less a matter of skill as much as being who knows the exploits and tricks (intentional or not) to a specific game the best. I look specifically at fighting games where you see some really in depth "Tier" lists which come about for all of them when they are out for a while, and while they fluctuate at first they do eventually settle. These tier lists tend to be based heavily on things like frame by frame analysis of various characters interfacing with other characters and all kinds of crazy stuff, a lot of which probably didn't even occur to the developers. I oftentimes sit down and watch videos of "the best players" going at it with breakdowns of what happened, why, what tiers were involved, and all kinds of other garbage, and came to the conclusion that it was less about who was actually better with their character(s) of choice and had the better reflexes and execution but who
gamed the system better as much as anything. You know stuff like "well yeah that only worked because so and so character has 3 quick frames of invulnerability due to a glitch and animation requirements when he does this specific move in this specific way, and the player exploited that heavily in the match especially as his opponent was playing this other guy whose attacks tend to encourage that specific glichy movement to counter them and...". I suppose it can be argued on a certain level that this kind of thing is part of the skill and "overall mastery" but at least on a personal level I don't much care for it, and can see why a lot of states might not even want to go there. I think it's going to be inevitable as this goes on that we're going to see sueing and other civil actions and stuff over lost purses due to "exploits", demands for handicapping systems and retroactive changes to results when new information is uncovered as a result and all kinds of other nonsense... I'd prefer to keep it relatively small at least in the US, and personally wouldn't want to be in a state spending millions to host slap fights between arrogant "cyberatheletes" in a courtroom over who rightfully deserves the purse over a match of "Street Fighter" or whatever.

Andy Chalk:
"The bill authorizes the paying of awards and prizes to participants in video machine tournament games,"

"We want to tax that $$$" is all I'm getting out of this. The goverment doing something for the good of video games and not its pockets? Haha

 

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