On Wednesday, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) hosted a Rocket League tournament in Congress, pitting members against each other in 2v2 matches.
The ESA paired up with Congress’ Future Forum caucus to teach members about the e-sports and gaming communities. A whole slate of members picked up the game and faced off head-to-head, teaming up with staff members. The two-hour event was streamed on Twitch and featured Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Katie Hill (D-CA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA).
The event included everything from professional commentary to post-game interviews and minor trolls from the chat calling for lawmakers to learn how to use their boosts. “SOMEONE TELL THEM THE BOOST KEY PLEASE,” one person in the chat wrote.
“Next time, we could do a first-person shooter. That’s more my thing,” Hill said.
The only thing they left out was a winners ceremony. It’s unclear who actually won, but it didn’t seem like any of the members cared. It was obvious the lawmakers weren’t pros at Rocket League, and an ESA representative said on the stream that they were looking to find a game that was easy to pick up and play, something that wouldn’t take much time for them to master.
The ESA lobbies on behalf of the gaming industry, and, generally, this event was about building up goodwill with Congress. While there’s no imminent threat from Congress that would harm e-sports, there is legislation targeting the sale of loot boxes to minors and other internet regulations that could affect game companies. Events like these, that include alcohol and food, put lobbyists and members face-to-face to talk policy.
In post-game interviews, the members voiced support and interest for the gaming community, although some was a little misplaced. “We have GameStops all throughout the district,” Veasey said. “I would say that GameStop is actually extremely popular in the various neighborhoods that are represented in my district and gaming is a really big deal.”