Electronic Sports, commonly known as eSports, is relatively new terminology that describes the competitive sport of video games. Since the internet has allowed for video game enthusiasts to interact and play with other gamers from around the world, video games have grown to be more inclusive and interactive+. Multiplayer video games have gathered a competitive scene over the last decade with individuals entering local tournaments to discover where on the competitive spectrum they stand. While some games have players cooperating to achieve a common goal, most multiplayer games pit individuals or teams in a contest to decide who the stronger player is. Console games require the physical presence of the players in order to play, but with the introduction of online multiplayer games, players can play against individuals worldwide without leaving their home. This has cultivated the competitive scene for video games where the drive to be the best has birthed eSports and the millions of spectators who have found enjoyment in watching them compete. ESports has now gained an enormous following with the introduction of free-to-play games, such as League of Legends, and online streaming sites such as Twitch.tv and YouTube. These online platforms have allowed the competitive side of video games to connect and grow, thus expanding their reach and gaining the attention of millions of gamers worldwide. This project, eSports podcast, is an audio recording between two guests and I, where we discuss the rise of eSports and its reception as a “sport” and what the experience as a spectator differs from traditional sport audiences. ESports has a more widespread audience with hundreds of games with their own organizers, celebrities, athletes, rules and policies. This paper will discuss the process of making the podcast followed with an explanation of how it relates to the research question on the difference of consuming eSports versus traditional sports.
The content produced in the podcast was inspired from an annual tournament called EVO that will happen in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 14th to 16th. EVO is one of the largest scale fighting game tournaments that attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers both in person and online. While those who attend the event get to view the event in person, the majority of viewers will be tuning in on streaming sites to watch their favourite games and competitors over the three days. Spending the weekend watching EVO is discussion topic that is considered normal amongst gamers, but for those who are unversed with video game competitions, the act of watching others play video games seems to be a foreign topic. Although eSports and traditional sports are both competitions that people enjoy watching, why was it that the reception to watching eSports was negative among individuals unfamiliar with video games?
The original plan was to create a miniature video with recorded interviews with individuals who were involved in eSports, however due to the equipment breaking down while losing some of the footage, the time restraint forced the content into podcast form. This turned out to more effective since a podcast focuses on the audio content of the interview while video content must focus on being visually appealing. The audio resulted in having more depth since there was more time available. Usually, visual content can lose the attention of their audience if they are unfamiliar on the subject matter. The original plan was to include images and videos from tournament streams, which would have been both confusing and intimidating for viewers with no background in eSports. ESports, and video games in general, can be prone to judgement from unfamiliar viewers, thus an audio podcast can eliminate the confusion non-gamers feel when confronted with images they are unfamiliar with. The disconnection between the video’s content and specific audiences would have alienated them and lost their interest. By utilizing the audio format, it removes the visual cues that alienate specific audiences and offers more elaborate content and discussion.
The podcast showed that there is a distinguishable difference between eSports and traditional sports and how audience interaction with their respective community has an impact on the evolution of eSports. ESports might be described as a sport, but the culture that surrounds eSports gives the impression that it is a completely different genre of competition. The usage of eSports in mainstream media likens gaming competitions to sport competitions, which is shown in the podcast to be untrue. Articles written on eSports only discuss the face value of a competition by how many people attended the event and how large was the prize pool, but there are rarely any articles that discuss the community of eSports and even fewer conversations on the culture of eSports. The podcast focuses on discussion and it effectively allows for gamers and non-gamers to comprehend and feel involved in the conversation. In order to keep any and all audiences included in the discussion, the addition of a vocabulary definition page prevents the exclusion of unfamiliar individuals from being engaged throughout the podcast.
With the growth of eSports and video game athletes becoming a new type of celebrity, eSports are often compared to traditional sports and are sometimes antagonized and ridiculed by those not involved in the community. Due to “sport” being used in the name and professional players being referred sometimes as athletes, society has questioned the validity of playing video games competitively as a sport. Traditional sports are physically demanding activities where athletes train and tone their bodies to compete whereas eSports athletes participate in less physically strenuous activity. Since society views sports as a physical activity, pressing buttons and clicking a mouse can barely be considered physical, hence society’s displeasure when professional players are referred to as athletes. Watching video games has also become a topic of discussion since video games are usually played versus watched. Due to gym classes in school that promote physical activity and friendly competition, sports are common knowledge since most individuals will have participated or watched it. ESports however are not common knowledge and individuals not versed or knowledgeable on video game genres have a restricted perception since their interactions with the subject are limited. Viewership on eSports are usually comprised of individuals who are either interested in the game or are already invested in it through their own participation. As eSports continue to grow and become more involved with larger corporations, attract larger audiences and expand into the media as a sport, eSports will integrate itself into visual culture and have a greater influence on future generations.
ESports: Electronic Sports
MMORPG: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game
PVP: Player versus Player
MMO: Massive Multiplayer Online
MOBA: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
Evil Geniuses, TSM, SKT T1: Sponsored League of Legends teams
Bjergsen, Faker, Hunie, Piglet, WildTurtle, Doublelift: Player Tags (usernames used in game)
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