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Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate why do people spectate eSports on the internet. The authors define eSports (electronic sports) as “a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces.” In more practical terms, eSports refer to competitive video gaming (broadcasted on the internet). Design/methodology/approach The study employs the motivations scale for sports consumption which is one of the most widely applied measurement instruments for sports consumption in general. The questionnaire was designed and pre-tested before distributing to target respondents ( n =888). The reliability and validity of the instrument both met the commonly accepted guidelines. The model was assessed first by examining its measurement model and then the structural model. Findings The results indicate that escapism, acquiring knowledge about the games being played, novelty and eSports athlete aggressiveness were found to positively predict eSport spectating frequency. Originality/value During recent years, eSports (electronic sports) and video game streaming have become rapidly growing forms of new media in the internet driven by the growing provenance of (online) games and online broadcasting technologies. Today, hundreds of millions of people spectate eSports. The present investigation presents a large study on gratification-related determinants of why people spectate eSports on the internet. Moreover, the study proposes a definition for eSports and further discusses how eSports can be seen as a form of sports.
What is eSports and why
do people watch it?
Juho Hamari
Gamification Group, Department of Pervasive Computing, UC Pori,
Tampere University of Technology, Finland;
Gamification Group, Digital Culture, UC Pori, University of Turku, Finland, and
Game Research Lab, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland, and
Max Sjöblom
Game Research Lab, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland and
School of Science, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate why do people spectate eSports on the internet. The
authors define eSports (electronic sports) as a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are
facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system
are mediated by human-computer interfaces.In more practical terms, eSports refer to competitive video
gaming (broadcasted on the internet).
Design/methodology/approach The study employs the motivations scale for sports consumption which
is one of the most widely applied measurement instruments for sports consumption in general. The
questionnaire was designed and pre-tested before distributing to target respondents (n¼888). The reliability
and validity of the instrument both met the commonly accepted guidelines. The model was assessed first by
examining its measurement model and then the structural model.
Findings The results indicate that escapism, acquiring knowledge about the games being played, novelty
and eSports athlete aggressiveness were found to positively predict eSport spectating frequency.
Originality/value During recent years, eSports (electronic sports) and video game streaming have become
rapidly growing forms of new media in the internet driven by the growing provenance of (online) games and
online broadcasting technologies. Today, hundreds of millions of people spectate eSports. The present
investigation presents a large study on gratification-related determinants of why people spectate eSports on
the internet. Moreover, the study proposes a definition for eSports and further discusses how eSports can be
seen as a form of sports.
Keywords Online video, Games, eSports, Media consumption, Streaming, Uses and gratifications
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
eSportsisasa form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic
systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated
by human-computer interfaces.In more practical terms, eSports commonly refer to competitive
(pro and amateur) video gaming that is often coordinated by different leagues, ladders and
tournaments, and where players customarily belong to teams or other sportingorganizations
which are sponsored by various business organizations. During recent years, eSports (electronic
sports) have become one of the most rapidly growing forms of new media driven by the growing
provenance of (online) games and online broadcasting technologies. It has been estimated that
more than 70 million people watched eSports during 2013 (Warr, 2014).
Like other media, media content consumption and information technology adoption
research, the research on sports consumption and spectatorship is commonly interested in
the motivations of why people consume it, how they consume it, as well as what kinds of
needs the given form of media/technology might gratify. Thus far, sports consumption Internet Research
Vol. 27 No. 2, 2017
pp. 211-232
© Emerald Publishing Limited
1066-2243
DOI 10.1108/IntR-04-2016-0085
Received 6 April 2016
Revised 15 June 2016
Accepted 9 July 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1066-2243.htm
The research has been carried out as part of research projects (40009/16 and 40111/14) funded by the
Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (TEKES).
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research has been mostly conducted in the area of sports management. However, with the
rise of eSports, sports are increasingly becoming a computer-mediated form of media and
information technology which may entail novel ways of information technology use. This is
especially so because eSports media content is conveyed through computerized
broadcasting (such as internet streaming), and because the sporting activity itself is
computer mediated. This makes eSports an increasingly interesting subject of study for the
area of information technology in general.
In this paper we seek to progress both the conceptual understanding of eSports by
discussing what eSports is, as well as the understanding of the motivations of eSports
consumers by empirically investigating which sports consumption motivations predict how
much time people are likely to spend on watching eSports. We employ data from on an online
survey that was conducted amongst people who have watched eSports online (n¼888).
2. Background
2.1 Defining eSports
eSports have only recently enjoyed wide international adoption, and there is still resistance
as to whether eSports can truly be considered as a sport. This conceptual conundrum is a
pertinent issue for not only defining eSports, but also for drawing the boundaries of what we
understand as being sports in general. It appears that many (especially the fans of
traditionalsports) are of the opinion that eSports cannot be called a sport, simply because
the player competence is not measured via either their physical prowess or finesse as the
eSports athletes appear to be simply sitting riveted to their chairs. In reality, the body and
physical activities of the player are still an important part of the overall sporting activity
(e.g. Witkowski, 2012). Although the outcome-defining events of the sport occur within the
confines of an electronic, computer-mediated environment, it does not in any way imply that
eSports cannot be physically taxing for the players (see also Taylor and Witkowski, 2010;
Witkowski, 2009, 2012). How taxing eSports is physically depends on the modus of human-
computer interaction that is required to control the game states of the games software or
system. In dancing (video)games, for example, players are physically drained from
interacting with the computer. eSports are commonly organized around specific genres of
games, such as multiplayer online battle arenas (e.g. League of Legends, Dota 2), first-person
shooters (e.g. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), real time strategy (e.g. Starcraft 2),
collectible card games (e.g. Hearthstone) or sports games (e.g. FIFA-series), therefore they
form many sub-cultures within eSports, in the same way that traditionalsports do.
However, eSports are not commonly perceived as electronicversions of traditional
sports such as soccer, basketball, or track and field sports even though such simulations of
traditionalsports are also played as eSports (such as the FIFA and NHL games).
While some conceptual and qualitative literature on eSports has emerged, only a few
definitions have been proposed regarding eSports. Perhaps the oldest and most explicit
definition by Wagner (2006) leans heavily on a definition of traditional sports originally
provided by Tiedemann (2004), as: an area of sport activities in which people develop and
train mental or physical abilities [].In defining eSports, Wagner (2006) extends this
general definition of sports with the addition of in the use of information and
communication technologies.However, we believe that this definition might leave too much
room for interpretation and does not therefore solve the looming question of what sporting
activities can be defined to be either an electronic sport or traditionalsport. This is mainly
because when considering any current sport, many aspects of it are computer assisted or
computer mediated (see e.g. Witkowski, 2012). The definition by Wagner (2006) also poses
another problem since it refers to such a large set of activities that even office-based
software training could be included as a sport. We also subscribe to the criticism presented
by Witkowski (2012) that the definition might define electronic systems too narrowly in
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covering only information and communication technologies,and that the definition might
divert attention from the complex mixture of both physical and electronic aspects in eSports.
We believe that in a quest to define eSports we should focus more deeply on what
constitutes the ein eSports (for more cultural descriptions of eSports, please see: Taylor,
2012; Taylor and Witkowski, 2010; Witkowski, 2009, 2012). The crucial question is then
what portions or aspects of the sport have to be electronic and/or computer mediated for a
sporting activity to be counted as an eSport. We argue that the main difference between a
sport and an eSport comes down to where the player or team activities that determine the
outcomes of the sport/play are manifested. In traditional sports, all outcome-defining
activities can be seen to happen in the real world,even though the sports practitioners
may employ electronic and computerized systems to aid the sporting activities. However, we
observe and argue that in eSports, the outcome-defining activities happen in a virtual
world[1], or in other words within electronic/digital/computer-mediated environments. The
outcome-defining activities are coordinated, orchestrated and operated by human beings in
the real world; however, it is not the physical and practical circumstance that the player
inhabits that ultimately defines the outcome of play, but rather the system states that exist
within the confines of the electronic system (which is controlled by the player and governed
by the rules of the eSports software and technology). Given that the playing humans occupy
the physical world,but the outcome-defining events of eSports happen in the virtual
world,then eSport athletes are always required to use or otherwise interact with a human-
computer interface that connects their bodies to the electronic system (see Table I).
Based on these notions, we define eSports as a form of sports where the primary aspects
of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as
the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces.
Spectating on eSports can be superficially seen as a similar activity to spectating on any
sports. Most commonly, eSports are being consumed by watching live streams on the
internet, where in addition to watching the event, spectators can participate in surrounding
social interaction, for example, in the form of chat features. As eSports are computer
mediated, spectating can never be without computer-mediated aspects as spectators
watching an eSport event livehave to eventually watch events from a computer output
such as a video screen or a monitor.
As previously mentioned, literature on eSports is still rare and dispersed, and most of this
body of literature has focused on the qualitative documentation of visible phenomenon in
tournaments (e.g. Carter and Gibbs, 2013; Cheung and Huang, 2011; Hutchins, 2008; Seo and
Jung, 2014; Seo, 2016; Taylor, 2012a, ,b; Wagner, 2006; Witkowski, 2009, 2012). Published
quantitative research on the questions of why people watch eSports or why players wish to
attend eSports events is, as of yet, non-existent. Thus far, only one study has been published on
What space does
the athlete
occupy? What sporting equipment do the athletes primarily use?
Wheredo the outcome-defining
events happen? (field of play)
eSports
The real worldHuman-computer interface (Human input: e.g. mouse,
keyboard, EEG, microphone, motion sensors, weight
sensors, acceleration sensors. Computer output: e.g.
display devices, haptic feedback, audio devices)
Within electronic systems
Sports
The real worldHuman-physical object interface or no sporting
equipment required
In the real world
Table I.
Conceptualizing the
difference between
sports and eSports
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the reasons for watching eSports (Weiss and Schiele, 2013), and it finds that competition,
challenge and escapism were positively associated with eSports use. However, the study
measured the general motivational aspects related to playing video games, and thus it makes it
extremely difficult to compare the results to other works on media viewing. Other qualitative
literature suggests that the reasons for eSports consumption should in principle correspond to
those of traditional sports. For example, based on an interview study, Cheung and Huang (2011)
remarked that eSports consumption motivations fairly well correspond to those of traditional
sports (using the motivation scale for sports consumption (MSSC) scale of Trail and
James, 2001). However, given that their study was qualitative in approach, there was no way to
infer how salient the different motivations were, or how associated they might be with
frequency in eSports consumption. Therefore, in order to continue the research on eSports
consumption motivations, we have specifically employed the MSSC measurement instrument in
measuring the motivations of eSports spectators, and also which of these motivations can be
used to predict eSports watching frequency.
2.2 The motivations for eSports consumption
The research on sports consumption like any other media and media content research is
primarily focused on the motivations of why people consume it, how they consume it, as well as
what kinds of needs the given form of media might gratify. Sports consumption research has
mostly been conducted in the academic area of sports management; however, with the rise of
eSports, sports are increasingly to be seen as a computer mediated form of media. This is
especially the case not only because sports media content is conveyed through computerized
broadcasting such as streams on the internet, but because the entire sporting activity is also
computer mediated. In eSports, the actions of players and teams are manifested in electronic
computer-mediated systems. These aspects of eSports make sports an increasingly interesting
subject of media study, and also for the study of (computer mediated) communication.
In the area of communication and media research, the uses and gratification theory
(UGT) framework is perhaps the most commonly adopted perspective which has been
used to analyze media consumption (Katz et al., 1973, 1974; Wang et al., 2008; West and
Turner, 2010). UGT has especially been used within research in online contexts (LaRose
and Eastin, 2004; Papacharissi and Mendelson, 2010; Papacharissi and Rubin, 2000;
Whiting and Williams, 2013), including online games (Wu et al., 2010), Facebook ( Joinson,
2008), video streaming (Cha, 2014; Chiang and Hsiao, 2015; Sjöblom and Hamari, 2017),
Twitter ( Johnson and Yang, 2009; Chen, 2011) and fantasy sports (Farquhar and Meeds,
2007). UGT is a theoretical approach to understanding why and how people consume
or use different kinds of media to satisfy different kinds of needs. UGT is specifically
focused on understanding media consumption from the perspective of the individual
rather than the media type. To this end, UGT considers individuals as conscious of their
own consumption, and also that media competes for gratification with other sources
(Katz et al., 1974).
Similarly, in research on sports consumption, the two most widely adopted measurement
scales are the MSSC and the sports fan motivation scale (SFMS, see Wann, 1995;
Wann et al., 1999). For this study we chose to use the MSSC over the SFMS, as the items
belonging to the MSSC were general enough to be applicable to the context of eSports.
Additionally, as this study aims to predict media consumption, the MSSC items were seen as a
better fit as they did not include the dependent variable in the item. For example, the SFMS
includes the statement One of the main reasons that I watch, read, and/or discuss sports is that
doing so gives me the opportunity to temporarily escape lifes problems,whereas a similar item
in the MSSC stated The game provides an escape from my day-to-day routine.The MSSC
relies on a similar theoretical understanding as the UGT, in that it focuses on the gratification
and experiences that sports consumption affords for spectators. The MSSC (and other related
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instruments) and UGT share many mutual aspects, such as an escapism from everyday life,
acquiring information from the media content, being a fan, social interaction and so forth.
Therefore, both the theoretical understanding and most of the constructs between these areas
are directly compatible with research on media consumption motivations in the media and
communication areas.
In this paper we apply the MSSC for measuring eSports consumption motivations.
By doing so we can be confident that our results are not only comparable with media
consumption research as a whole, but also it enables us to make direct comparisons between
eSports consumption motivations and the motivations to consume traditional sports.
Therefore, in this study, we rely on the MSSC as both our theoretical approach as well as the
basis for our measurement of the phenomenon.
The MSSC has gone through some revisions, and has resulted in current variations
which commonly consist of eight to ten constructs (Fink et al., 2002; Trail et al., 2000; Trail
and James, 2001), including vicarious achievement, aesthetics of sport, drama of sport,
watching sports as a means to escape everyday life, knowledge acquisition related to the
sport, admiring the skills of the athletes, social interaction with other spectators, physical
attractiveness of the athletes, novelty of new players and teams, and the enjoyment of
aggression and the aggressive behaviors the athletes exhibit.
Vicarious achievement refers to empathizing and co-living with people and characters in
media content, and in the sports context, with the achievements of teams and players
(Cialdini et al., 1976; Cialdini and Richardson, 1980; Krohn et al., 1998; Smith, 1988; Trail
et al., 2000; Wann, 1995). As such, vicarious achievement has a strong social component, as it
relates closely to feeling a sense of community and belonging with the players and teams the
spectator is rooting for. In eSports, professional players can be more easily approachable
than those in their physical counterparts for example, in soccer. Due to the fact that many
professional players are also active streamers, this allows for an easy channel of
communication between the spectators and professional players. We argue that this factor
may allow for a deeper connection between spectators and the players and teams they
follow, thus leading to a higher sense of vicarious achievement. Many eSport games actively
involve the professional players in the form of fan merchandise and similar products which
may be linked to a large tournament. Therefore, we hypothesize that:
H1. Vicarious achievement is positively associated with eSports watching frequency.
The aesthetic aspects of the sports refer to the elements of beauty or gracefulness which are
inherent in the sport (Trail and James, 2001). Visual elements have been shown to be
important motivational factors in spectator sports (Wann et al., 1999; Wann and Wilson,
1999; Krohn et al., 1998; Smith, 1988). Studies have shown that sports that are scored such as
gymnastics or figure skating, attract viewers that rate aesthetic motivations highly (Bryant
et al., 1981; Sargent et al., 1998; Zillmann, 1995). Within the realm of eSports, previous
research has discussed eSports events as aesthetic experiences on a more holistic level
(Seo, 2013), characterized as a transcendent character built of liminoid elements and
consumer fantasy(Kozinets et al., 2004, p. 658).
Within the realm of media research, affective motivations have been shown to impact use in
the contexts of eSports (Cheung and Huang, 2011), video game streaming (Hamilton et al., 2014),
social media (Papacharissi and Mendelson, 2010; Whiting and Williams, 2013) and video sharing
websites (Cha, 2014; Hanson and Haridakis, 2008). Accordingly, we hypothesize that:
H2. An appreciation of the aesthetic aspects of eSports is positively associated with
eSports watching frequency.
Within the realm of eSports, we can separate aesthetic gratification into two distinct
categories: the players and the game. The physical attractiveness construct refers to the
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appreciation of the appearance of people and characters in media, and in the sports context,
viewing the players involved in the game, and the degree to which the spectator finds the
players physically attractive (Duncan and Brummett, 1989; Guttmann, 1996). As the main
play of eSports happens in the confines of electronic systems, one could easily and
intuitively assume that the physical appearance of the players would not be an important or
visible aspect in eSports. However, most of the recordings and broadcasts of eSports events
record videos of the players before, during and after matches. While video game players
have been anecdotally believed to be physically unfit and unkempt young men, many top
eSports athletes are often in fact physically fitter than the average person. Many eSports
playersinterviews reflect the belief commonly held in the eSports scene that physical
fitness and activity stimulates and maintains cognitive facilities and hand-eye coordination.
Therefore, the fitness of eSports players might not be nearly as far-fetched as the anecdotal
beliefs might suggest. Therefore, we hypothesize that:
H3. The physical attractiveness of players is positively associated with eSports
watching frequency.
The drama construct refers to the enjoyment of uncertainty and dramatic turns of events in
media content such as sports. Drama has been showntobeanimportantcontributortosports
viewing in general (Raney and Depalma, 2006; Su-lin et al., 1997; Peterson and Raney, 2008).
Within the area of eSports, drama is also an important element of the viewing experience as the
same sense of uncertainty is present as in traditional sports. Many eSport games have added
elements of randomness and information asymmetry built into them, thus further increasing the
notion of uncertain outcomes (Cheung and Huang, 2011). We hypothesize that:
H4. Drama is positively association with eSports watching frequency.
Escapism refers to the degree to which media enables an escape from day-to-day routines,
and provides a distraction from everyday activities. Escape has been shown to be of
significant impact for viewing sports, and unlike other forms of emotional motivations, the
escape motivation is less dependent on the actual outcome of the game (Gantz, 1981;
Gantz and Wenner, 1991, 1995; Krohn et al., 1998; Wann, 1997; Wenner and Gantz, 1998;
Wann et al., 2008). Escape has also been shown to be a strong motive for use within
prior research on uses, motivations and gratification related to media viewing
(Lin, 2002; Papacharissi and Mendelson, 2010; Whiting and Williams, 2013). We believe
eSports may be rather similar in terms of providing a means of escape as other forms of
media and sports. eSports might provide a more accessible form of escape when compared
to traditional media and sports. Therefore, we hypothesize that:
H5. Escapism is positively association with eSports watching frequency.
The acquisition of knowledge construct refers to the degree of which media consumption
enables an acquisition of knowledge. In traditional sports, two important cognitive
motivations for spectating have been learning about the players and teams (Gantz and
Wenner, 1995; Wenner and Gantz, 1998), and collecting information to be shared in
conversations about the sport (Karp and Yoels, 1990; Lever, 1983; Melnick, 1993). Within
research on media use and media consumption, knowledge acquisition has been shown to be
an important factor within video game streaming (Hamilton et al., 2014), social media
(Papacharissi and Mendelson, 2010; Whiting and Williams, 2013) and internet use (Courtois
et al., 2009; Ebersole, 2000; Papacharissi and Rubin, 2000). In eSports, video games, the
strategies and tactics are readily copied and reproduced since the sporting activities do not
have as many prerequisite abilities as traditional sports. We hypothesize that:
H6. Acquiring knowledge is positively association with eSports watching frequency.
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Related to the acquisition of knowledge, as the large proportion of eSports spectators play the
same games themselves, we believe they possess the experience and facilities to appreciate,
understand and admire the skills the professional players exhibit. Therefore, we hypothesize that:
H7. Appreciation of player skills is positively association with eSports watching frequency.
An appreciation of player skill has been shown to be an impactful motivational factor in
sports (Milne and McDonald, 1999).
The social interaction construct refers to the gratifications related to socializing with
other media consumers. Socializing with peers has been shown to be of great importance
in traditional sports (Dietz-Uhler et al., 2000; Eastman and Land, 1997; Gantz, 1981; Gantz
and Wenner, 1991; Melnick, 1993), and also within eSports and playing video games
(Hamilton et al., 2014; Sherry et al., 2006). In the context of media usage research, social
interaction has also been shown to be of great importance (Chen, 2011; Hamilton et al.,
2014; Pai and Arnott, 2013; Papacharissi and Mendelson, 2010; Sjöblom and Hamari,
2017; Whiting and Williams, 2013). eSports spectating is commonly connected to an
online chat that can be used to comment on the events of the game, and also as a way to
cheer for favorite teams and players. As much of the eSport consumption takes place
online, is it natural to assume that bonds are created between people through computer-
mediated means. It is worth noting that due to the technological nature of many services
through which eSports is consumed, many simultaneous social groups and actors can
coexist in one space, each possibly performing separate action (Woerman and Kirschener,
2015). We hypothesize that:
H8. Social interaction is positively association with eSports watching frequency.
Gratification related to novelty in the sporting media refer to the enjoyment and excitement
related to seeing new players and teams in the sporting scene and is regarded as one of the
main factors of sports consumption (Trail and James, 2001). As eSports has not yet had
much time to mature as an industry, there are relatively few established teams and games
that are being played. Thus there is a constant influx of new talent and the scene is
constantly evolving. Therefore, we hypothesize that:
H9. Novelty is positively association with eSports watching frequency.
Aggressive behavior is a common part of many veins of todays media, and particularly in
sports. The enjoyment of aggression refers to the enjoyment derived from witnessing
aggressive behavior, macho attitudes and the hostility exhibited by the players. Previous
research has found that a preference toward aesthetics significantly impacts the enjoyment
and consumption of sports which are classified as aggressive (Wann et al., 1999, 2008; Wann
and Wilson, 1999). As the main play of eSports happens in the confines of electronic
systems, one could intuitively assume that physical aggression would not be as important
or visible aspect in eSports. However, most of the recordings and broadcasts of eSports
events video the players before, during and after matches. In fact, it is a rather common
(but a frowned upon phenomenon) for players to exhibit aggressive behavior, by, for
example, banging the table at which they are playing. Therefore, we hypothesize that:
H10. Aggressive behavior is positively association with eSports watching frequency
(Table II).
3. The empirical study
3.1 Data
The data for this study were gathered via an online survey administered amongst people
who watch eSports on the internet. Before administering the survey, we piloted (n¼20) the
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survey in order to acquire both feedback on whether taking the survey presented any
problems to the respondents as well as to explore the validity of measurement. No major
problems were observed in the pilot study concerning the measurement of sports
consumption motivations. After the pilot, the link to the survey was spread over variety
of international internet channels related to eSports and internet game streaming
such as related Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and forum subgroups. According to our
estimates the respondents arrived to the survey from the following websites:
70-75 percent eSports-related subreddits, 10-15 percent Twitter, 5-10 percent Facebook
and 5-10 percent other sites and direct traffic (we employed a couple of different links to
gather respondents. All links did not have tracking for the traffic source, and therefore,
we only have an estimate). The survey was available online from February 26, 2015 until
the 23rd of March 2015 during which 888 usable answers were received. As a
participatory incentive, we raffled six gift certificates (worth USD50 or EUR50) to the
steam game store among valid responses. Table III outlines the demographic details of
the respondents.
3.2 Measurement
The measurement consisted of the MSSC (Trail and James, 2001). The scale was measured
on a seven-point Likert scale from strongly disagreeto strongly agreeas specified by the
instrument. Originally the MSSC consisted of nine constructs: vicarious achievements,
aesthetics, drama, escape, knowledge, skills, social interaction, physical attractiveness and
family. However, the MSSC has been modified slightly since its inception with the deletion of
the family subscale and a rewording of the escape subscale (Fink et al., 2002). The family
subscale was removed from the MSSC because the original developers of the scale believed
that the family dimension might be a byproduct of consuming sports, rather than a specific
motivation (Trail, 2012). Moreover, we added scales for novelty and enjoyment of aggression
constructs as suggested by Trail (2012). The dependent variable of the frequency of
watching eSports had five options: never,”“once a year,”“once a month,”“once a week,
and daily.
Construct ID Items Definition
Vicarious
achievement
VA 3 Empathizing and co-living the achievements of teams and players the
spectator is emotionally attached to
Aesthetics AES 3 The appreciation of the beauty and gracefulness inherent in the sport
Drama DRA 4 The enjoyment of the drama, uncertainty and dramatic turns of events in
the sports
Escape ESC 3 The degree to which watching the sport enables an escape from day-to-
day routines and provides distraction from everyday activities
Acquisition of
knowledge
KNO 3 The degree to which watching the sport enables the acquisition of
knowledge related to the game, its strategies and other technical aspects
Skills of the
players/athletes
SKI 3 The enjoyment of witnessing the high skill that players exhibit and well-
executed performances in the sport
Social interaction SOC 3 The enjoyment related to interacting and socializing with other people
watching the game
Physical
attractiveness
ATTR 3 The enjoyment related to and the degree to which the spectator finds the
players physically attractive
Novelty NOV 3 The enjoyment and excitement related to seeing new players and teams
in the sporting scene
Enjoyment of
aggression
AGGR 4 The enjoyment derived from witnessing the aggressive behavior, macho
attitudes and hostility exhibited by players
Sources: Adapted from Trail and James (2001), Trail (2012)
Table II.
Sports consumption
motivation constructs
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3.3 Validity and reliability
The model testing was conducted via the component-based partial least squares structural
equation modeling (SEM) which is considered to be more suitable for prediction-oriented
studies such as the present study, whereas co-variance-based SEM is seen as being
better suited to testing which models best fit the data (Anderson and Gerbing, 1988;
Chin et al., 2003). Moreover, many previous studies have already assessed the model fit
(see e.g. Funk and James, 2006; James and Ridinger, 2002; Robinson et al., 2004; Robinson
and Trail, 2005; Seo and Green, 2008; Trail and James, 2011; Won and Kitamura, 2007).
Convergent validity was met since the AVE, CR and αmeasures exceeded the recommended
thresholds (Fornell and Larcker, 1981; Nunnally, 1978). Discriminant validity was met since
the square root of the AVE of each construct was larger than its correlation to any other
construct (Chin, 1988; Fornell and Larcker, 1981; Jöreskog and Sörbom, 1996), and each
measurement item had the highest loading with its corresponding construct (Table IV).
3.4 Results
We investigated which motivational factors would predict the frequency of watching
eSports. The results (Table V) indicated that escaping everyday life (H5, 0.131**), acquiring
knowledge from eSports (H6, 0.165**), novelty (H9, 0.076*) and the enjoyment of aggression
(H10, 0.117**) were positively and statistically significantly associated with the frequency
of watching eSports. The results pertaining to novelty should, however, be interpreted with
caution as indicated by the low βand confidence intervals. Interestingly, the results also
show that the enjoyment of aesthetic aspects of eSports (H2,0.157*) is negatively
associated with the frequency of watching eSports. There were no statistically significant
associations between the rest of the motivations and the frequency of watching eSports.
However, when more closely examining the βand confidence intervals, it can be interpreted
that the skills of the players might also have a small positive association with the frequency
of watching eSports.
4. Discussion
During recent years, eSports (electronic sports) and video game streaming have become
rapidly growing forms of new media in the internet driven by the growing provenance of
(online) games and online broadcasting technologies. Today, hundreds of millions of people
spectate eSports. The present investigation presented a seminal study on gratification-related
n n
Age
15 or less 35 Education None 1
16-20 333 Primary/elementary 83
21-25 267 Secondary 471
26-30 164 Higher 355
31-35 67 Employment Full-time 197
36-40 18 Part-time 75
41 or more 4 Student 519
Mean 22.75 Unemployed 83
Median 22 Retired 1
Other 13
Gender
Female 63
Watching eSports Never (more rarely than yearly) 9
Male 825
Yearly (once a year) 34
Monthly (once a month) 140
Weekly (once a week) 402
Daily 303
Table III.
Demographic
distribution of survey
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AVE CR α012345678910
0 WATCH 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000
1 VA 0.932 0.820 0.891 0.206 0.905
2 AES 0.911 0.772 0.863 0.090 0.413 0.879
3 DRA 0.900 0.692 0.851 0.214 0.350 0.454 0.832
4 ESC 0.945 0.852 0.913 0.220 0.418 0.319 0.328 0.923
5 KNO 0.917 0.788 0.865 0.277 0.369 0.471 0.543 0.270 0.887
6 SKI 0.906 0.763 0.844 0.257 0.326 0.456 0.667 0.258 0.717 0.873
7 SOC 0.957 0.882 0.933 0.107 0.400 0.334 0.250 0.285 0.283 0.245 0.939
8 ATTR 0.873 0.696 0.795 0.033 0.191 0.165 0.032 0.185 0.025 0.076 0.228 0.835
9 NOV 0.940 0.840 0.905 0.226 0.451 0.497 0.478 0.324 0.514 0.478 0.394 0.135 0.917
10 AGGR 0.879 0.647 0.819 0.196 0.396 0.331 0.305 0.318 0.240 0.206 0.283 0.243 0.381 0.804
Note: Italic figures on the diagonal are square rooted AVEs
Table IV.
Validity and reliability
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determinants of why people spectate eSports on the internet. Moreover, the study proposed a
definition for eSports and further discussed how eSports can be seen as a form of sports. We
defined eSports as a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by
electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system
are mediated by human-computer interfaces.
The main portion of the study focused on measuring eSports consumption motivations and
analyzing which motivations were associated with the frequency of watching eSports (n¼888).
Beyond the supported hypotheses (H5,H6,H9,H10) surprising results afford more elaboration
and discussion.
The results showed that the enjoyment of the aesthetic aspects of eSports was negatively
associated with a frequency in watching eSports. The video games being played in eSports
are usually complex and require a considerable amount of concentration to comprehensively
follow the game. Therefore, we believe that admiring the aesthetic aspects of the game
whilst concurrently with keeping up with the nuances of occurrences during the game may
be practically difficult. Therefore, those viewers who focus more on the aesthetic aspects
may have a wholly different experience to those viewers who focus on the technical and
rule-based proceedings of the sport. Perhaps this approach to viewing may turn spectators
away from most eSports since their understanding of the game may remain limited. For
example, in the context of gymnastics it has been shown that an appreciation of the
aesthetic aspects of the sport positively impact viewing (Sargent et al., 1998). However, we
argue that gymnastics performances are split into smaller portions than typical eSports
performances. Therefore, it is easier for the viewer to concentrate on the inherent beauty of
the performance, as there are no ancillary activities taking place. Therefore, the dynamics
between aesthetic appreciation and consumption could prove to be a fruitful area for future
research. Further studies could compare eSports that are performed in smaller chunks and
those that are longer and more tactically complex to follow.
In the results drama does not seem to be significantly associated with spectatorseSports
watching frequency. This finding seems to be contrary to previous qualitative observations
where the importance of drama and information asymmetry has been highlighted (Cheung
and Huang, 2011). Additionally, within the realm of video game streaming, dramatic turn of
events have been argued to increase viewership (Karhulahti, 2016). Many popular eSports
games employ an amount of information asymmetry to create strategic tension between
players, and also dramatic tension for players. For example, Starcraft 2 has an element
called fog of war, which obscures parts of the map for players (Cheung and Huang, 2011).
The actions showed to spectators are free of this fog of war, but the director of the broadcast
has the ability to choose what to show and what to hide. This can be used to create dramatic
Model dv: eSports watching frequency (R
2
¼0.139)
Hypotheses no. IV BCI99 low CI90 low CI90 high CI99 high p
H1 Vicarious achievement 0.068 0.047 0.005 0.132 0.173 0.114
H2 Aesthetics 0.157** 0.240 0.206 0.084 0.000 0.000
H3 Physical attractiveness 0.076 0.167 0.138 0.045 0.094 0.161
H4 Drama 0.004 0.136 0.087 0.086 0.137 0.938
H5 Escape 0.131** 0.034 0.072 0.189 0.217 0.000
H6 Acquisition of knowledge 0.165** 0.030 0.080 0.245 0.298 0.001
H7 Skills of the players/athletes 0.096 0.067 0.007 0.194 0.261 0.125
H8 Social interaction 0.021 0.111 0.082 0.039 0.074 0.567
H9 Novelty 0.076* 0.042 0.001 0.148 0.179 0.079
H10 Enjoyment of aggression 0.117** 0.022 0.057 0.171 0.207 0.001
Notes: *po0.01; **po0.001
Table V.
Results
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tension by, for example, hiding a looming ambush, only to focus on that part of the map at
the very last second, creating an exhilarating experience for spectators. Due to this
prevalence of dramatic elements, it is interesting to see the lack of association of drama with
spectating frequency in the present results.
The lack of a meaningful association of drama and spectating frequency could perhaps
be further explained by the diminishing return nature of drama. For example, in soccer it is
considered a dramatic turn of events if a team manages to even the score against
exceptional odds, or in a virtual scenario such as Counter-Strike (an online first-person
shooter game), for a single player to defeat an entire opposing team singlehandedly. A first
or second extraordinary play might excite the spectator and provide a motive for spectating,
but if almost every game contains an event perceived to be either a one-off or spectacular,
then the excitement might not continue. Therefore, although players who watch a lot of
eSports might appreciate drama and see it as a necessary motivation for viewing, it does not
dictate their viewing habits. As would stand to reason, drama is expected to be fairly evenly
distributed across matches and viewers who watch a lot of eSports during a certain time
period have a higher expectancy to see drama unfold within the games. However, few
studies have quantitatively investigated the relationship of drama gratification and
spectating frequency (Peterson and Raney, 2008; Raney and Depalma, 2006). Therefore, the
aspect of diminishing returns on the impact of dramatic turns of events in media could also
provide an interesting further line of study. One way to study the effects of the diminishing
nature of drama in a media content might be to devise an experiment involving content with
varying levels of dramatic events, similar to research that has been done to study perceived
aggression in sports (Bryant et al., 1982; Comisky et al., 1977; Raney and Depalma, 2006).
The correlation between perceived played skill and watching frequency was small and
statistically insignificant, although slightly positive. Perhaps this small effect could be
explained by player skill being seen as a form of hygiene factor. That is to say, a certain
threshold for player skill needs to be present in order for the match to have a perceived
relevance, but beyond this effect, player skill does not seem to increase the watching
frequency. Within the present data set we were unable to differentiate between the different
levels of skill shown in the eSports that respondents consumed. Further studies could more
meticulously measure what types of eSports respondents consumed, and on which skill levels
(e.g. amateurs vs professionals). This would allow further investigation into differences in
effect between the appreciation of player skill and the enthusiasm to consume eSports.
Previous qualitative and anecdotal observations are canonical on the importance of social
interaction in watching streams and eSports (Cheung and Huang, 2011; Hamilton et al., 2014;
Scholz, 2012; Seo, 2013; Sherry et al., 2006; Sjöblom and Hamari, 2017; Trepte et al., 2012;
Woerman and Kirschener, 2015). It is easy to subscribe to these conceptions as social
interaction and functionalities are clearly present in services that are used for spectating.
However, our quantitative results (and the quantitative results related to eSports playing in
Weiss and Schiele, 2013) on whether social gratification affects spectating frequency indicate
otherwise, as there was no significant effect to be found. This would imply that the social
dimensions of spectating are less important than previous research would lead us to believe, at
least when it comes to factors affecting watching frequency. A finding of this nature for
eSports is indeed highly interesting, as traditional sports is so strongly tied to social groups
and social interactions. However, another interpretation is that the possibilities for social
interaction provided by the services through which spectating istaking place are not affording
the level of interaction needed to obtain adequate levels of gratification. So while spectators
might be interacting with others through social media, forums and chat, this form of online
social interaction may not afford the same level of social gratifications as co-located social
interaction might. Therefore, investigating eSports spectating gratification in an on-site
spectating circumstance may show different levels of gratification.
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As initially hypothesized, enjoying the aggressive behaviors exhibited by the eSports
athletes was positively and significantly associated with watching frequency. These
findings are especially interesting in the context of eSports since the athletes are not directly
presented during the actual eSports games, and the broadcast content therefore shows the
physical bodies of athletes less than in say traditional track and field sports. However, the
athletes themselves appear on screen during broadcasts of eSports tournaments during
breaks between games, and when pre-filmed footage is shown in storytelling sequences.
We argue that at least partially the enjoyment of aggression stems from the rivalries
existing between eSports teams and players, perhaps a milder form of aggression that we
are used to seeing in traditionally sports. On the other hand, many eSports games are at
their core violent in their imagery, for example, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive where
shooting your opponents is part of the core game. This is the other type of aggression that
can be seen as a motivating factor for consumption.
While the body of literature on eSports and game stream consumption motivations
specifically has only started to appear (including the present study), there is an ample body
of literature on reasons why people play games themselves. While watching others play
(and in the context of this paper: spectating electronic sports) is not the exact same activity
as playing games oneself, the phenomena undoubtedly have overlap as both consist of
consuming (video)game-related content. Therefore, comparing the results of this study to
those studies that have been conducted on the factors that predict gaming activities can be
considered fruitful and may provide further lines of inquiry also to the study of
consumption motives of eSports. The studies investigating factors that may affect quality
and quantity of playing video games can be roughly divided into three main categories
based on the selection of determinant they investigate. The first category is concerned with
player types (Bartle, 1996; Hamari and Tuunanen, 2014), mentalities and orientations (Kallio
et al., 2011). The second vein of literature on this area is more directly focused on
motivations and gratification as predictors of playing activities (e.g. Chang et al., 2014; Davis
et al., 2013; Hamari and Keronen, 2017; Hamari and Koivisto, 2015; Huang and Hsieh, 2011;
Lu and Wang, 2008; Wei and Lu, 2014; Yee, 2006a, b). Finally, the third category is focused
on the demographic and other background factors of players (Hamari and Lehdonvirta,
2010; Jansz et al., 2010; Koivisto and Hamari, 2014; Mäyrä et al., 2016; Williams et al., 2008;
Yee, 2006b). To these bodies of literature on gaming motivations, the present study
introduces the perspective of watching games being played as a form of gaming activity.
Furthermore, the present study lays its roots also to the opposite direction; it brings game
research pursuits into the sports research arena by defining and investigating how eSports
(competitive video gaming) can indeed be seen as a sport. Through these conceptual and
disciplinary unions, the study also brings the notion of how watching games being played
can be viewed from the perspective of sports consumption, a previously little explored view
in game research area (although previously suggested by e.g. Cheung and Huang, 2011).
In the player type-related research (see e.g. Bartle, 1996; Hamari and Tuunanen, 2014;
Yee, 2006a), players have been customarily divided into achievement, immersion/exploration,
social and competition-oriented players. In future research on eSports consumption these
player typologies could be applied in investigating whether eSports consumption motivations
and habits differ in accordance to the spectatorsgaming orientations. A large portion of the
research investigating more detailed motivations have seemingly focused on technology
acceptance (see e.g. Davis et al., 1989; Van der Heijden, 2004) of games and specifically on both
utilitarian and hedonic motivations of playing (Chang et al., 2014; Davis et al., 2013; Hamari
and Keronen, 2017; Hamari and Koivisto, 2015). In the present study many of the investigated
factors represent more hedonically oriented dimensions of spectating sports.
The present study did not measure many, what can be seen as, utilitarian or instrumental
motivations to watch eSports other than the motivation to acquire information from
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spectating eSports. Our results, as the results in the body of literature on games, highlight that
consuming game content is not necessarily a purely hedonic pursuit even though games are
often regarded as purely hedonic media. On the contrary, watching eSports may also provide
information which can be useful for, for example, deciding which games to purchase or for
eSports-related gambling. Beyond spectating eSports, being a professional eSports player or a
professional video games streamer (see e.g. Hamilton et al., 2014; Jonasson and Thiborg, 2010;
Seo, 2013; Sjöblom and Hamari, 2017) is a job which connects the phenomenon to an
interesting view of playing games: playing video games can also take the form of work.
Therefore, eSports affords a highly interesting phenomenon from the perspective of
labor, work psychology and business ecology. In prior literature, playing games have
been framed in the work context, for example, in the research veins on gamification
(Hamari, 2013; Hamari et al., 2015; Jung et al., 2010; Nelson, 2012; Morschheuser et al.,
2016), gold farming/real-money-trade (e.g. Heeks, 2009; Lehdonvirta, 2005; Lehdonvirta
and Castronova, 2014; Nakamura, 2009) and obviously poker and other forms of
gambling (with varying skill-luck degrees) which represent forms of playingconnected
to the intentional pursuit of income.
While the present study did not seek to investigate demographic factors in eSports
per se, a clear majority of respondents in our data were males below 25 years of age. This
may be an indication of the gender and age distribution in the general eSports fan
community. However, in order to rigorously investigate the demographic distribution in
the eSports community, further studies with wider samples should be conducted. Popular
discussion does connect game consumption to adolescent males; however, recent
literature (e.g. Mäyrä et al., 2016; Williams et al., 2006; Yee, 2006a) challenges this view.
Todays surveys paint a broader, more inclusive picture; research shows that gaming is
more equally distributed across genders and age groups. However, differences remain as
to what types and genres of games different demographic groups gravitate toward
(Mäyrä et al., 2016). As most current eSports games appear to represent entries on the
more hard-core competition driven end of the spectrum, it could explain the young male
majority in the fan base of eSports.
4.1 Practical implications
This study focused on investigating which motivations may predict the frequency of
watching eSports (Table V). For practitioners the results of this inquiry provide insights for
further development of eSports-related services such as broadcast content, eSports
community tools, eSports gambling-related service and so forth. The results of the study
highlight gratifications that are more likely to increase eSports-related consumption, and
therefore, show to practitioners some of the different aspects of eSports that may be worth
emphasizing in further development of eSports-related services. For instance, knowledge
acquisition was found to be one of the positive determinants of eSports spectating.
Therefore, actors working in the eSports ecology might direct resources to developing better
ways for the spectators to acquire knowledge from the eSports broadcasts. In practice, this
could, for example, take the form of developing more effective ways of displaying the game
states by, for instance, clearer depiction of player positions on the play area and ways for the
commentators to more easily demonstrate team strategies on an overlay or alternatively by
affording more information about player career statistics.
Surprisingly, our results showed a negative association between aesthetic appreciation
of eSports content and spectating frequency. This might imply that game developers of
existing eSports titles should not necessarily feel a pressure to emphasize graphical fidelity
of games if the appreciation of that fidelity does not increase spectatorship. Indeed, if we
observe todays popular eSports games, we can notice that they do not necessarily adhere to
or employ the latest graphics technologies but rather focus on simplicity and clarity of
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presentation and graphics (also in order for the games to run properly on multiple tiers of
hardware). Conversely, however, the negative association that was found in this study could
be an indication of unoccupied space for new kinds of eSports to appear where the aesthetic
aspects would be in a more emphasized role. For instance, if we consider the breadth of
existing traditional sports, we can immediately recall several sports that emphasize
aesthetic aspects and beauty, such as figure skating, synchronized swimming or
gymnastics. In other words, the essence of these sports stems from how the performance
visually looks, which is impacted by the athletes skill. In these sports, sports consumption
research has found a positive impact of aesthetics on spectating (e.g. Bryant et al., 1981;
Sargent et al., 1998; Zillmann, 1995). Analogous eSports seem to currently be missing from
the variety of popular eSports available today which may indicate both that the negative
association is attributable to the types of games being played in eSports today and that
there may be room for a larger variety of eSports in the future.
Gratifications related to seeing aggressive behaviors (such as hostility, intimidation and
macho atmosphere) exhibited by the players was positively associated with spectating
frequency. Interestingly, however, players themselves commonly have less screen time than
their traditional sports counterparts, and therefore, possibly witnessing these aggressive
behaviors is scarce. By showcasing rivalries between players and teams, as well as giving more
screen time to players and not just the game taking place, more emphasis could be placed on
these aspects of eSports. If we regard these findings more broadly, giving players more screen
time may also facilitate the increased fulfillment of other gratifications such as fandom.
The results also revealed that novelty of new teams and players appearing on the scene
may be important aspect of following eSports. This may indicate that stagnation of eSports
ladders and tournaments may have negative effect on the overall experience. These findings
may then imply that eSports ladder and tournament organizers may find it beneficial to
guarantee a high level of liquidity in team and player transitions between league and/or
tournament levels. Therefore, when organizing tournaments, finding a balance between
fixed/invited teams and those who can climb up the ladder based on pure performance may
prove to be a fruitful mix for the viewing experience.
4.2 Limitations and future research directions
As is commonplace with studies conducted via online surveys, the data are self-reported and
the respondents are self-selected. Using self-reported data may affect the findings as the
users responding are potentially more actively engaged with the service and therefore
willing to participate in activities related to it. Thus, the results possibly disregard the
perceptions and intentions of less active and unengaged users of the service. These issues
could be addressed in future studies, as well as the reasons for not being/becoming involved
in the service. Future research could combine survey data with actual usage data and proper
experiments, in order to increase the robustness of research on the topic.
In the present study, we employed one of the most widely applied sports consumption
measurement scale. However, it is possible that there is something in the nature of eSports
that may make it significantly different from traditional sports with respect to consumption
motivations. Therefore, it is possible that the measures used here do not completely capture
the entire spectrum of motivations that might be relevant to the spectatorship of eSports.
One indication of this in our results is the low effect size implying that there indeed may
remain other factors that explain what motivates people to spectate eSports. Therefore,
future studies could expand on the set of motivations beyond the traditional motivations
commonly linked to sports consumption of traditional sports. Furthermore, it is also
commonplace with quantitative studies that the results are reductionist and geared toward
generalizable overall indications of the phenomenon. As the activity of spectating eSports
and participating in the related community is a multifaceted phenomenon, it is expected and
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likely that participant motivation can be more complex if we were to investigate the
phenomenon on a more granular and deeper level by using, e.g., qualitative methods.
eSports spectating motivations and behaviors might differ based on which platform they
are viewed on. Streaming services such as Twitch, Hitbox, Azubu and YouTube can have
different service design even though the underlying content can however be similar, if not
identical. As the user behavior of a certain service are shaped by other users, creating a
culture distinct to that service, this may then in turn affect the behavior of users more
greatly than the actual feature differences between similar services providing eSports
content. Naturally services that offer eSports content in a pre-recorded format, such as
YouTube, may have significant differences when it comes to user behavior and motivations.
Therefore, one future research avenue is in investigating motivational and behavioral
differences that may stem from the platforms streaming eSports.
As previously mentioned, there was no association found between social interaction and
spectating frequency. This could prove to be different if investigated in the live context, that
is to say when both the spectator and the eSport players are physically present in the same
space. This might also increase the general aesthetic experience, as noted before in the
context of eSports events (Seo, 2013).
Note
1. We realize that terms virtual worldand real worldare not very accurate terms; however, in the
lack of better wording and the fact that the terms are rather comprehensible by a variety of
scholars with different backgrounds we adopted to use them. For a more elaborate discussion on
the paradox of what is real and virtual, please see Lehdonvirta (2010) and Taylor (2002).
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About the authors
Dr Juho Hamari is a Professor of Gamification (Associate and Tenure-track) and leads the Gamification
Group divided across Tampere University of Technology, University of Turku, and University of
Tampere. Dr Hamaris and his research groups research covers several forms of information
technologies such as games, motivational information systems (e.g. gamification, game-based learning,
persuasive technologies), new media (social networking services, online video streaming, eSports),
peer-to-peer economies (sharing economy,crowdsourcing), and virtual economies. Dr Hamari has authored
several seminal empirical, theoretical, and meta-analytical scholarly articles on these topics from
perspective of consumer behavior, human-computer interaction, game studies and information systems
science. Dr Juho Hamari is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: juho.hamari@uta.fi
Max Sjöblom (MSc) is a Researcher at School of Information Sciences, University of Tampere.
His research focuses on motivations for media usage.
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... On the other hand, this research shows that mobile social networks support this emergence due to efficiently fulfilling human needs and their trustworthiness [1][2][3][4]. Meanwhile, it considers that human needs are the social and economic stratifications among primary, secondary, and tertiary ranks [5][6][7]; gaming enjoyment would probably be the latest fulfilment. Therefore, this study investigates this emergence of game boosters from the united sequential reasoning of economic opportunity and intellec-tual opportunism, constructing game boosters' behaviour as the supply-side and newbie gamers asking the higherlevel ones as the demand-side. ...
... Opportunity actualisation occurs when game boosters find and create a new high- 3 Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies prospect market. Thus, the perspective of actualising this innovation is sustainable to facilitate consumer priorities [5,16,31,50]. Furthermore, when gamers with high ICT skills can identify opportunities, they can use their capabilities and competencies to generate an income. ...
... Game users and boosters usually feel and catch an economic opportunity when a game application is loaded globally on a computer network. This study acknowledges that game boosters consistently indicate their knowledge of the gaming environment [5,26,43,67]. ...
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This study investigates the emergence of intellectual opportunism for game boosters in mobile social networks. It shows the supply and demand for upgrading game levels in mobile social networks. These supply and lucrative demand highlight a new temporary profession as game boosters. Game boosters facilitate framed newbie gamers who want to play at a higher game level without playing for a long time. This emergence of professionally game boosters is due to economic opportunism, promising their potential future incomes. Moreover, opportunistic mobile social networks (OMSNs) support the muscular appearance of the game booster profession. On the other hand, this study demonstrates that mobile social networks exploit hedonistic human needs by reflecting their behaviour and social relationships when building efficient and trustworthy business contracts. This study presents uniqueness supported by critical reasoning. First, it shows that the game booster phenomenon has emerged as a contemporary profession in society, promising future cash inflows above the average salaries of typical jobs. Second, this research demonstrates the sequential logic of economic opportunities, intellectual opportunism, and mobile social networks, constructing game boosters’ income generating. Nevertheless, this study acknowledges that the game booster profession has low integrity due to its members’ inconsistent and unprincipled virtues.
... The development of esports brought the attention of academics on different subjects in social sciences (Reitman et al., 2020). Many studies have been done in sociology (e.g. on the interactions between audiences and gameplay and on the gender perception in esports (Kim, 2017;Rogstad, 2021;Taylor & Witkowski, 2010)), or in psychology to analyze the specific motivations of esports consumers (Hamari & Sjöblom, 2017;Qian et al., 2020). Moreover, there have been many debates on the definition of esports (Abanazir, 2019;Hamari & Sjöblom, 2017;Jenny et al., 2017), on whether it should be considered as a sport (Besombes, 2016;Cunningham et al., 2018;Jalonen, 2019;Naraine, 2021;Summerley, 2020), and on the future evolution of the ecosystem (Kim et al., 2020;Peng et al., 2020;Scholz, 2019). ...
... Many studies have been done in sociology (e.g. on the interactions between audiences and gameplay and on the gender perception in esports (Kim, 2017;Rogstad, 2021;Taylor & Witkowski, 2010)), or in psychology to analyze the specific motivations of esports consumers (Hamari & Sjöblom, 2017;Qian et al., 2020). Moreover, there have been many debates on the definition of esports (Abanazir, 2019;Hamari & Sjöblom, 2017;Jenny et al., 2017), on whether it should be considered as a sport (Besombes, 2016;Cunningham et al., 2018;Jalonen, 2019;Naraine, 2021;Summerley, 2020), and on the future evolution of the ecosystem (Kim et al., 2020;Peng et al., 2020;Scholz, 2019). The arrival of traditional sports actors brought new studies in marketing and management, such as the strategies of football brands (Bertschy et al., 2020;Lefebvre et al., 2020) or non-endemic sponsors (Huettermann et al., 2020), and actual links between sports and esports have started to emerge. ...
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Research Question Esports are drawing more and more interest from the public and are thus raising new economic stakes. This paper aims to characterize the current economic situation of the French professional esports industry (clubs’ economic models and leagues’ regulation mechanisms). The findings pave the way for further discussion regarding potential ways for leagues to regulate competition. Research Methods The methodology is based on a qualitative approach and involves nine semi-structured interviews with major stakeholders in the professional French esports ecosystem: five clubs, two leagues, and two player agents. Financial data from two further club is also analysed. Results and Findings The results identify two economic models for French esports clubs. These models are mainly based on ‘irrelevant’ revenues, and the French clubs are not profitable due to the rat race in the labor market. Club owners are oriented towards maximizing wins. The regulation mechanisms currently used in the leagues do not seem able to change the teams’ behavior. Implications The discussion, based on the traditional literature, suggests regulation tools that could guide the behaviors of the clubs to help them to achieve better financial stability and perhaps optimize the competitive balance of the competition. However, more research is needed to define the aims of the regulation of esports leagues.
... Electronic sports (esports) has been growing at a rapid rate in the past few years, evident in such phenomena as projected high growth in revenue and industry size [95], record-setting viewership of esports tournaments [16,59], and universities offering athletic scholarships for professional players [48]. Esports is "competitive (pro and amateur) video gaming that is often coordinated by different leagues, ladders and tournaments, and where players customarily belong to teams or other "sporting" organizations which are sponsored by various business organizations" [31]. The conceptual contour of esports keeps evolving as scholars explore and debate its social, cultural, organizational, and legal implications beyond the interface [22,31,67]. ...
... Esports is "competitive (pro and amateur) video gaming that is often coordinated by different leagues, ladders and tournaments, and where players customarily belong to teams or other "sporting" organizations which are sponsored by various business organizations" [31]. The conceptual contour of esports keeps evolving as scholars explore and debate its social, cultural, organizational, and legal implications beyond the interface [22,31,67]. ...
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