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Can Professional Gamers Collect Workers’ Comp?

The professional video game industry consists of professional and amateur teams, game publishers, event and tournament organizers, leagues, media distributors, broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors, and other stakeholders. In addition to all of these moving parts, there are the skilled players themselves – the ones who play the games for a living. But what happens when one of these players suffers an injury during the course of their work? Do they have the right to collect workers’ compensation just like employees in other industries?

A question related to this is whether a company (i.e. the team) must treat a player it hires as an employee or an independent contractor. Improper classification of a player has an independent contractor can cause various legal issues and difficulties for a team and the player related to workers’ compensation. Understanding the with respect to professional gamers is important.

Workers’ compensation and professional video game player injuries

Professional gamers in the eSports industry are the actual engine that brings in tremendous revenues for many of the stakeholders mentioned above. However, these gamers are susceptible to particular types of health concerns that arise out of their game playing activities. The industry as already witnessed players suffering from an injury referred to as “Nintendoitis,” a repetitive motion injury resulting from video game playing. It seems reasonable that an external party be held responsible for the physical or mental health issues that are the result of players performing their “work duties,” as they would traditionally be described in any other industry.

Simply put, a professional gamer who is classified as an employee has a right to workers’ compensation benefits just as any other worker in any other industry. It is only when a gamer is operating as an independent contractor that his or her right to workers’ compensation may be in question or unavailable.

Steps taken by the industry to establish and enforce players’ rights

Within the last couple of years, the Professional eSports Association was founded to operate the league. The Association includes owners and a commissioner, who oversees the Association. The purpose of the organization is to establish rules for how players are selected and treated. The league has promised to focus on the rights of players and securing the benefits they deserve, including workers’ compensation, health insurance, profit sharing, and financial planning.

These protections are important in order to minimize and stop abuses to players who are often young and not experienced with employment issues. Time will tell how this league and the entire industry unfolds with respect to professional gamers and their ability to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled.

If you have sustained a workplace injury and are facing issues getting the benefits you deserve, Gainsberg Law, P.C. is here to help. We are able to review the facts of your case and take assertive action to pursue and secure your rightful benefits. To set up a free consultation with a Chicago injury lawyer, give us a call today at 312-600-9585 or complete our contact form.