US Senator dubs $200,000 esports study “wasteful” in annual report

Kentucky Senator Dr. Rand Paul singles out an NSF study into player cooperation in esports

A US Senator has included a $200,000 research study into esports in his annual report of wasteful government spending, prompting criticism from the gaming community. Republican Dr. Rand Paul, who is a US Senator for Kentucky, revealed his 2020 Festivus Report yesterday, which looks at the many instances of questionable spending across a number of government departments.

Paul’s report looks at huge blunders, such as the The Department of Defence’s $174 million spend on now “lost” drones, or questionable projects and funding, such as $34 million in research grants being redirected to find out why stress makes your hair turn grey. According to Paul, his findings add up to $54 billion in wasted spending. However, nestled within the many cases of huge sums of money being mismanaged, a study into esports was included – and we’re not really sure why?

Paul flags the study by the National Science Foundation, which sets out to “see how people cooperate when playing e-sport video games,” among some other objectives. Paul claims the study has cost $199,864 in grants and funding since it began in 2018, which is tiny in comparison to some of the billion-dollar discrepancies he includes in his report.

What’s strange though is that after identifying the study, there is very little explanation as to why it is deemed a “wasteful” use of taxpayer funds. In his own summary, he mentions that esports is a rapidly growing industry, and simply lists the study’s objectives before questioning if the NSF thinks “wasteful spending is a game.”

Many in the gaming community have now criticised Paul for its inclusion, and for singling it out in a Twitter thread summarising his report.

While $200,000 is a lot of money in anyone’s eyes, it is disappointing to see a study looking into a rapidly growing industry – which also brings plenty of revenue into the United States – listed alongside blunders and misspending in the millions and billions of dollars.