First presented at CGSA 2016 Calgary on June 3rd 2016.
I’m going to be talking about the proliferation and boyband-ification of all-male professional gaming, or, esports teams. And in the sentiment of our keynote this week, I am not going to bother explaining why people who play video games professionally or the esports industry is worth studying. I will be speaking not only from the research of esports scholars but also my own personal experience in the esports industry as a player.
Firstly, I’d like to make it clear that there is a huge challenge when discussing esports teams when thinking about what we consider to be an “average” or “textbook” example what an esports team looks or behaves like. While there can be some generalizations that can be made about particular scenes based on genre, teams and even more so, individual players are surprisingly diverse (minus gender of course).
Last week, I had the privilege of interviewing two of the English casters for the League of Legends: Ladies Battle in Korea. We talked about women in e-sports, the job of a caster and cultural differences and challenges that come along with the job. You can watch Bil and Josh in action on the Ladies Battle AfreecaTV channel where you can also find more details on the league. I talked with Bil and Josh separately on Skype text chat on July 30th 2015.
Currently in Technical Alpha, Rising Thunder is already set to be the next big thing in the fighting game industry. It’s also probably the closest thing we have to a Pacific Rim game minus the destruction of environments (can this be in the game please?). What truly sets the game apart from other fighting games is the simplicity of the controls (without being as simple as Divekick) and the emphasis on keyboard controls. But is the game really as newbie friendly as it’s design makes it out to be?
Many League of Legends players will claim that the results of a match are determined during the champion select screen. A successful team will boast players with high APM (actions per minute) and vast knowledge of not only their own champion mechanics, but also how they function between their teammates and enemy champions. The developer of League, Riot Games, is a strong proponent of supporting the game as an e-sport and in general, to have the game be played competitively. An element, or more so, a requirement of a successful e-sports team is to master the inner workings of the game, not only the rules, but how your opponents and teammates work within the affordances of the game.
Twitch.tv is not only a popular site for the e-sports scene, but gaming communities in general. I have decided it will be useful (and fun!) to start streaming from my own Twitch channel to not only better understand the inner workings of the site, but also to place emphasis on gameplay itself in my work. Let’s be honest, I play games hours a day anyways, so I may as well stream it and talk to a screen in the process.
I hope to stream most weekday nights around 8:00pm. Games will include with single and multilayer games of varying genres and commentary provided will be of varying academic (or non-academic) nature.
During the next few weeks I will be writing special posts on my two week trip to South Korea. It was not only an amazing experience, but also invaluable for my research in e-sports, East Asian culture and education.
I have been following several professional Starcraft circuits ever since the height of the Brood War expansion craze as a player and an organizer. I have also started a local University club, managed my own team and volunteered for two prominent e-sports organizations: The Collegiate Star League and E-sports Canada. Professional gaming in South Korea is huge, so much so, they have their own television channel dedicated to broadcasting games and other gaming related shows.