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Do You Love It Already or Do You Still Ignore It? The Two Faces of the Phenomenon Spectatorship in Esports.

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Abstract

Accepted Paper at: https://seegamesws.wordpress.com/accepted-papers | The rise of interest in Esports and in spectating other people playing games increased over the years and has developed into a mass phenomenon. However, there still exists a big gap between people who love Esports and people who don't. This gap itself was probably just as big several years ago as it is today, only the number of Esports fans has increased. Nevertheless, there seems to be no grey area, either one stands on one side or on the other. In this paper we will discuss several possible reasons for this phenomenon with the goal to initiate a discussion for finding ways and strategies to close this gap. https://seegamesws.wordpress.com/accepted-papers/
Do You Love It Already or Do You Still
Ignore It? The Two Faces of the
Phenomenon Spectatorship in Esports
Abstract
The rise of interest in Esports and in spectating other
people playing games increased over the years and has
developed into a mass phenomenon. However, there
still exists a big gap between people who love Esports
and people who don’t. This gap itself was probably just
as big several years ago as it is today, only the number
of Esports fans has increased. Nevertheless, there
seems to be no grey area, either one stands on one
side or on the other. In this paper we will discuss
several possible reasons for this phenomenon with the
goal to initiate a discussion for finding ways and
strategies to close this gap.
Author Keywords
Esports, Perception, Rules, Media, Fan community
CSS Concepts
Applied computing~Computers in other
domains~Personal computers and PC
applications~Computer games
Introduction
The rise of interest of Esports combined with the
interest of spectating other people playing games has
increased over the last years (cf. [1, 2]). For example,
Alexander Pfeiffer
Massachusetts Institute of
Technology
Cambridge, MA-02139, USA
Alex_Pf@mit.edu
Thomas Wernbacher
Donau-Universität Krems
Krems an der Donau, Austria
Thomas.Wernbacher@donau-
uni.ac.at
Natalie Denk
Donau-Universität Krems
Krems an der Donau, Austria
Natalie.Denk@donau-
uni.ac.at
Simone Kriglstein
AIT Austrian Institute of
Technology GmbH &
University of Vienna, Faculty
of Computer Science
Vienna, Austria
Simone.Kriglstein@ait.ac.at
according to a study conducted in 2019 on behalf of
Austrian Entertainment Software Association, 5.3
million people currently play games in Austria alone,
2.6 million of them daily. The rapid developments in
2019 show that Esports is no longer a marginal
phenomenon in society but has found its way into the
middle of society. 50% of Austrians under the age of 25
are interested in esports and every 7th Austrian
currently consumes esports content [3]. More than
38,000 registered players according to eSports
Association Austria [4], numerous new teams and
cooperations with the economy show that Esports is on
the road to success - also in Austria.
However, the success of Esports depends strongly on
the audience and communication with fans. Therefore,
spectator friendly strategies are necessary to make
Esports and the onboarding of new fans more attractive
to a wider audience. In order to understand the
motivation of Esports fans, several studies were
conducted in the last years (e.g., [1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]).
These studies showed, for example, that the main
motivations of Esports fans were self-improvement,
learning different game strategies, and the interest in
the game.
Nevertheless, an interesting observation and a big
challenge is that not everyone shares the enthusiasm
about Esports. On one side of the divide are those
people who play digital games competitively and/or
watch Esports events and on the other side are those
people who are completely disbelieving when they are
told about Esports [7].
There are several reasons for this, such as the way
Esports is presented and broadcasted in the media and
the understanding of the rules of the respective digital
game(s) used in Esports tournaments. This workshop
paper aims to initiate the discussion on how to close
this gap and raise awareness of Esports and its rules
and practices.
Challenge
In order to be clearly perceived as a sport, Esports
must not only be defined as sport from a sports studies
perspective [8]. The medialization - which according to
Müller Lietzkow [9] - represents one of the seven
characteristics of sport - requires a representation that
enables even people who have no affinity for Esports to
perceive competitive play as a competitive sport. For
this purpose, at least several of the following four
criteria must be fulfilled:
1. Classical sport as the basis of the Esports
discipline
2. Knowledge of rules by the spectators
3. Media implementation of the game similar to
the classic television sports coverage
4. Media coverage in the sports section
Let us have a look at current Esports games. Games
like FIFA (Soccer) [10], Formula-1 [12] or the former
Austrian lighthouse project Ski-Challenge [12] are
based on real word sport which is simulated in a
detailed way within the gameplay. While games like
Rocket League [13] or Overcooked [14], which is
becoming increasingly popular in Austrian school
Esports, are based on partly real-world scenarios
embedded in fictional scenarios, but the rules and
purpose are easy to understand. The same applies to
shooters such as Counter Strike [15], but here the
violent aspect in the games must be dealt with
separately with regard to the discussion. And then
there are fantasy games with their own storyline and
complex rules far away from the real world, for
example League of Legends [16], DOTA2 [17] or
Starcraft II [18].
All four criteria are rarely met. The big problem is the
perception of Esports via the sports section of the
popular media. In recent years, reports on Esports in
the sports sections of magazines or TV programs can
can be counted on one hand in Austria and Germany.
Now one can rethink the criteria and disregard point 1
(a real sport must be the basis) and point 4 (reporting
must be done through the sports section). That leaves
the two points to focus on: (A) the viewers'
understanding of the rules and (B) the staging.
And exactly at these two points there is a huge gap
between the people who are already Esports fans and
those who are unaware of the existence of Esports.
For Esports titles like FIFA, Formula 1 or even Rocket
League it is relatively easy to gain fans outside the
community and also a broadcast in streams as well as
in classic TV is very easily possible. For games like
Starcraft II or League of Legends the opposite is the
case. In streams, the community watches their favorite
Esportsmen and -women practicing or they follow big
events. In streams moderators comment with the
assumption that the audience know the rules already
and therefore the special moves and tactics are
discussed. In classic TV this is not yet working, because
there is always an attempt to get non-fans into the
boat and therefore the moderators repeat the basic
rules of the game over and over again instead of going
into the complexity of the game moves. This makes it
very boring for the community to watch and at the
same time also quite uninteresting for newcomers. A
solution would probably have to be found here, for
example a transmission with 2 audio tracks. One for
the newcomers and one for those who are already big
fans of the respective ESport discipline.
Open Questions
Based on these arguments, how can the onboarding of
new fans be made easier? How can we explain the rules
of more complex games to these new fans, while
constantly increasing the learning curve, with the goal
of attracting new viewers and not only new players?
One possible way is to support new fans in becoming
part of the community [19]. This can be the
establishment with groups and communities in social
networks, the organization of fan clubs as well as the
founding of amateur competitions to reach out to a
broad audience and foster the understanding of the
games and their rules. Furthermore, using of tools [1,
20] can be a further way to enable first steps into the
community and can serve help them communicate with
each other (e.g., about the current match) or to learn
more about the rules and the game by taking part in
competitions and quizzes. However, which strategies
and solutions will work, and also what other influencing
factors exist, are critical aspects of making Esports
more attractive to a wider audience and will need
further research.
Conclusion
Although the interest in Esports has increased over the
last years and has become a growing sector in the
game industry, the development of the audience and
communication with fans is essential for the success of
Esports. Therefore, research to close the gap between
people who love Esports and people who don’t, can
help to identify strategies to make Esports more
attractive for a wider community. In this paper, we
briefly discussed potential reasons for the existence of
this gap and highlight questions which show directions
for further research in this area.
References
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Book
Full-text available
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Article
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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.
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Video games are primarily designed for the players. How- ever, video game spectating is also a popular activity, boosted by the rise of online video sites and major gaming tournaments. In this paper, we focus on the spectator, who is emerging as an important stakeholder in video games. Our study focuses on Starcraft, a popular real-time strategy game with millions of spectators and high level tournament play. We have collected over a hundred stories of the Starcraft spectator from online sources, aiming for as di- verse a group as possible. We make three contributions us- ing this data: i) we find nine personas in the data that tell us who the spectators are and why they spectate; ii) we strive to understand how different stakeholders, like commenta- tors, players, crowds, and game designers, affect the specta- tor experience; and iii) we infer from the spectators' expres- sions what makes the game entertaining to watch, forming a theory of distinct types of information asymmetry that cre- ate suspense for the spectator. One design implication de- rived from these findings is that, rather than presenting as much information to the spectator as possible, it is more important for the stakeholders to be able to decide how and when they uncover that information.
Good luck have fun: The rise of eSports
  • Roland Li
Roland Li. 2017. Good luck have fun: The rise of eSports. Skyhorse.