Written by Richard Wee, Kimberly Chan, Sai Ganesh and Lavannya Nair

The Ministry of Youth and Sports of Malaysia (Kementerian Belia dan Sukan Malaysia) (“KBS”) launched its Pelan Strategik Pembangunan Sukan Elektronik KBS 2020-2025 in 2019 with the main objective of promoting the growth of the esports industry in Malaysia. The strategic objectives of this plan include developing esports athletes and ethics, bettering esports infrastructures and, instituting good law and governance towards the sport itself. The full strategic plan can be found at the following link: https://www.kbs.gov.my/pelan-strategik.html. KBS has recently released the National Esports Development Guideline (“NESDEG”) which serves as a guideline for stakeholders in meeting the objectives mentioned above. The full document can be found at the following link: https://nesdeg.my/

In a nutshell, NESDEG is designed with the aims of protecting esports athletes and ensuring the development of this industry. Our very own Mr Richard Wee played a role in the development OF NESDEG. 

To further understand NESDEG, it is important to look at the five main cores (lima teras utama) of the guideline. These are the foundational principles of NESDEG which play a role in providing stakeholders with better understanding of the guidelines all while supervising esports activities in general. It is also pertinent to note that NESDEG identifies the stakeholders which it seeks to protect and engage, which include the esports athletes (“Players”), registered sports bodies, organisers, media producers and lastly, government and regulatory bodies.

Main Core 1: Player’s Contract Management (Pengurusan Kontrak kepada Pemain)  

The Main Core 1 of NESDEG seeks to even the playing field for Players and other identified stakeholders when it comes to contracts. It is no secret that these Players, like many of their peers from other sports industries, get into contracts with various entities such as sponsors, clubs and other bodies. To ensure that all stakeholders are protected, contracts should outline clearly the rights and obligations of parties. Main Core 1 achieves this by providing a template contract between a Player and an organisation or club (which is to be used as a reference) attached together with contractual terms such as duration of the contract, Player’s remuneration, termination of contract and intellectual property rights, all of which are accompanied by its respective explanations.

In example, Main Core 1 specifies that a contract should clearly state the obligations of the parties. It explains that the obligations of organisations or clubs include payments to the player and overall management towards the entire event/competition of the Players, whereas the Player’s obligations include live-streaming on media platforms, adhering to a work schedule, being present at promotional events and so on.

Main Core 2: Governance in Organising Events (Tadbir Urus dalam Penganjuran Acara)  

Similar to Main Core 1, Main Core 2 is also accompanied by a contract template. However, the contract herein defines the parameters between Players and event/competition organisers (“Organisers”). It also seeks to provide some form of standardisation to esports events. Main Core 2 aims to maintain a level of quality of esports events such as procuring the necessary licences, efficient marketing, maintaining integrity, managing Player’s data protection and transparency in sponsorships. 

The guidelines stress that the events organised should meet international and Malaysian standards to obtain licences. Matters such as point systems, competition/rounds format, judging, prizes and even the objection to points or recounts should be in accordance with international standards, and are required to be efficiently communicated to all parties prior to the competition itself. Another relevant limb of this core is the anti-doping policy. Organisers should account for doping tests prior to events and work closely with the Anti Doping Agency of Malaysia (“ADAMAS”). 

Other relevant responsibilities identified by the guidelines include the setting of age limits, preparing disciplinary codes for Players to abide by, responsible live streaming, ensuring cyber and physical safety of participants and the audience, and ethical sponsorships.

Main Core 3: Monitoring and Protecting Children (Pemantauan dan Perlindungan kepada Kanak-Kanak)  

Main Core 3 is aimed at ensuring that the participation of children in esports are protected and safeguarded. In addition, this core also highlights the importance of fostering children’s participation in the esports industry. To achieve this task, there are several aspects to be reinforced, namely, the protection against sexual harassment aspect, physical aspect, emotional aspect and the exploitation aspect.

It should be noted that it is the duty of the stakeholders to protect the interest of child participants actively representing the country in the esports scene. This core lays down several rules to follow and the do’s and don’ts while participating. This includes the prohibition of sexual content or jokes, using profanity, and establishing that adults must maintain professionalism when interacting with the participants. The child participants must strictly adhere to the prohibition of alcohol and drugs as this can lead to the downfall of integrity in the game. 

In gist, other general rules around coaching provided by clubs and organisers, access to certain individuals, briefing, monitoring and reporting mechanisms, requirement of written agreements to be executed by parents or guardians, and personal data protection measures are to be followed and respected by all parties. Through this guideline, NESDEG ultimately seeks to achieve professionalism in esports teams and events, and ensure the safety and rights of younger participants.

Main Core 4: Code of Conduct and Ethics (Kod Tatakelakuan dan Etika)  

 

In this core, NESDEG stresses the importance of having a code of conduct and ethics guidelines to promote and enforce integrity, discipline, morality and professionalism to the Players and stakeholders. 

 

Main Core 4 deals with the prevention of cheating, manipulation and bribery amongst stakeholders and promotes sportsmanship. The core recommends that an impartial  or neutral integrity and ethics officer be appointed to oversee, implement and manage all related matters. On the other hand, the code also discusses conflicts of interest, its implications and the possible recourses. The core also outlines an Organiser’s responsibility in managing and maintaining the integrity and decorum of Players in events and tournaments, and that individuals in breach of the rules of the competition will be subjected to a hearing and a series of investigations by the appointed integrity officer.


Another underlying objective of this core is the prevention of  Players from doping or consumption of illegal substances for the purposes of cheating or gaining an unfair advantage (even by accident). The core also addresses the issue of a player being barred from participating in events and tournaments in the event the Player is tested positive for doping. The said Player will then be answerable to the World Anti Doping Agency (“WADA”) and the Organisers.

Main Core 5: Career Pathways (Laluan Kerjaya

This core explains the importance of “career pathways” in the esports ecosystem, as esports is a relatively new but rampantly growing sector in Malaysia. This formulation of career pathways will create awareness on this equally competitive industry and its importance with the advancement of technology. The core outlines three categories of jobs in the esports ecosystem;

Players, managers and coaches

The first level of the category is an individual who generally starts off developing an interest or hobby playing the game which plays competitively on an amateur level. This player may continue to undergo training in hopes to become a professional player. After additional training, the player then proceeds to be an athlete who represents the club and eventually, the nation. After years of experience the athlete can then either become a coach or an analyst which specifically analyses gameplay and strategies of the Player and their opponents and formulates strategies.

It is pertinent to note that the experience gained as a Player is useful in becoming a Club Manager. This position requires one to know the ins and outs of the corporate governance in esports as the skill of identifying future talents is necessary for the further advancement in esports. 

Furthermore, a Physical Trainer is also important to ensure that the Players acquire and maintain a standard of physical health in line with the objectives of the esports training camps, which have been previously organised by ESM. In addition, Psychologists or Counsellors are also vital to the esports industry as these professions play a role in promoting better focus and increasing productivity during tournaments or competitions. Last but not least, Dieticians are also required in the esports industry as they are able to assist individuals in planning a healthy and suitable diet, necessary to maintain their physical health.

Event Organisers

Event organising is one of the main factors in ensuring that an event or tournament can proceed smoothly. Individuals interested in event organising are encouraged to obtain an undergraduate qualification in event management to ensure that the knowledge and skills obtained can be applied effectively when organising an event. The experience and knowledge acquired can further develop their career into broadcasting production, which is also another main component of esports. If suitable, the individual can also explore sales and marketing, public relations, or  advertising and branding related careers. Among other key roles in event organising include Marshals, Head Marshals, Operations and Management teams.

Information and Technology 

There are a wide range of career paths in the Information and Technology (“IT”) sector, of which a Bachelors’ Degree in Computer Science or Information and Technology, or other short courses that provide an accreditation to one’s knowledge and skills. Individuals can begin their career as a software or web developer, data engineer or technical engineer, mastering the basic programming language such as, among others, HTML, PHP, JavaScript, Python, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). After acquiring some experience, these individuals can eventually work their way towards becoming a Network Engineer or Cyber Safety Analyst, responsible for preventing any network or computer system intrusions.

Other possible career paths related to IT include social media managers, livestreamers, content creators and photographers or videographers, all of which are essential to esports organisations and Organisers, in this day and age.

Conclusion

In conclusion, with the rise of esports, KBS is evidently taking active steps to elevate the quality and standards of Malaysia’s esports ecosystem; as seen with the launching of their latest initiative, NESDEG. NESDEG aims to be a guiding hand to all existing and upcoming stakeholders with the goal to create a progressive future for the upcoming generation in esports. The future of esports in this country is indeed bright as many new talents in this area of sports have emerged with the growing advancement of technology.

Published on 11 July 2023

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