The New Definition of "Pro Gamer" in Japan

By Brian Ashcraft on at

In Japanese, “pro gamer” previously had one definition: a gamer who got money to play. Hence, a professional. Today, the word was given a new definition by the newly established Japan Esports Union.

The organisation is supported by Japanese gaming’s biggest organisations (such as CESA and JAMMA) and will issue pro gamer licenses for a small number of titles and hold tournaments with prize money. Because of Japanese law, it’s been difficult for pro gaming to take off in the country, so an organisation like this, along with official professional gaming licenses, could help overcome those legal obstacles.

IT Media reports that at a presentation today, the Japan Esports Union, or JESU, sorry, JeSU, listed these four points in its pro gamer definition (プロゲーマーの定義 or puro geemaa no teigi):

- Self-awareness of being a professional

- Demonstrate sportsmanship when playing

- Be dedicated to outstanding results in JESU officially-recognised titles

- Contribute to the development of domestic esports

Currently, the only officially recognised games are Winning Eleven 2018, Call of Duty: WWII, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Tekken 7, Puzzle & Dragons and Monster Strike. Expect more titles to become officially recognised in the future.

The pro gaming license lasts for two years. Besides doing well in one of the officially recognised games, players need to take a written pledge to adhere to the above four points and take a short training course.

Considering the legal hoops that pro gaming has to jump through in Japan, perhaps creating an awkward and closed system like this is the only way the country’s pro gaming scene can grow?