By ; Nelly All- Nahla Makled
he Global Esports Federation (GEF) has become a member of ITU's standardization arm (ITU-T) to launch a global dialogue on the new partnerships emerging in support of the fast-growing competitive esports industry. The dialogue aims to create the conditions necessary to establish international standards and guidelines for the esports ecosystem.
The meteoric rise in esports' popularity compels exciting visions of the future of sport, health and entertainment. Esports have come to enjoy an audience of over 450 million people, with revenues exceeding 1 billion USD per year and growing at an annual rate well over 20 per cent.
The series will explore the business and social dynamics underlying esports and the partnerships supporting its explosive growth. It will showcase innovations in fields such as Artificial Intelligence; Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality; IMT-2020/5G; and the Internet of Things. It will also discuss actions required to support esports competitors and fans in enjoying these sports actively and sustainably.
"All industries are innovating with ICTs, but ICTs have enabled the emergence of an entirely new industry in esports," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "By joining ITU, the Global Esports Federation has signalled the intent of the esports industry to build its future on the reliability offered by international standards, in concert with the diverse ITU membership."
"We are honored to embark on this strategic partnership with the ITU in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and further strengthening the GEF's mission of convening the world's esports ecosystem," said GEF President Chris Chan. "This partnership allows us to develop a pathway together to foster more international collaboration between our respective communities. The future of esports continues to be bright, and we look forward to developing great collaborations with the ICT industry, elevating esports based on the traditions and values of sport and the principle of harnessing technology for good."
Esports have the potential to form a leading example of 'Tech for Good', with innovations in the field demonstrating considerable promise to support health and wellbeing, gender equality, education and persons with disabilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of connectivity and inclusivity to the economy and society, providing a powerful reminder of the importance of ICTs to the pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
As an ITU member, GEF will influence the development of ITU standards for multimedia and the quality of gaming experience, work led by ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia) and ITU-T Study Group 12 (Performance, quality of service and quality of experience).
GEF has also highlighted its intention to propose new ITU standardization studies addressing the relationship between esports and ICT advances in fields such as AI, Big Data, 5G and IoT.
"Our world is highly diverse, but sport has extraordinary power to unite us," said Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. "Just as each team player makes a unique contribution to their team, the inclusive dialogue led by ITU and GEF will help new partners to build a common understanding of how they could each play to their strengths to make complementary contributions to the growth of the esports ecosystem."