Spectating eSports and Let’s Play

an audience watches a live multiplayer game tournament in front of giant screens
ESPORTS Live, ESL Intel Extreme Masters Quake Live Semifinals: rapha v. SPART1E, by Michael Arsers, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Project overview

These related projects aim to explore the experience not of playing games but of watching them, where gameplay becomes a new form of viewing entertainment.

Spectating eSports

Electronic sports (eSports) are sports-like competitions with video games. They often take the form of organised competitions with leagues, ladders and tournaments. Many competitions are have semi-professional or professional competitors and are watched by thousands, and in some cases, millions of spectators.

The spectacle of esports competitions often occurs within the virtual spaces of competitive, organised, and professional videogaming. Match content is mediated by a production crew and projected onto large screens around a tournament venue such as a sports stadium, as well as being streamed to remote audiences.

In this project we are investigating the experiences of spectating esports in three different locations: the home or domestic environment; the tournament and match venues such as sport stadiums and entertainment complexes; and in ‘third spaces’ such as sports bars.

Spectating Let’s Play

Let’s Plays are recordings of video gameplay with commentary from the player. The creation and sharing of Let’s Play content has grown significantly over the last decade.

In this project we examine the cultural practices of Let’s Play communities and how these communities experience, create and share Let’s Play videos. The project takes an historical approach and investigates how media platforms, such as YouTube, Twitch.tv, and the Something Awful forums have changed Let’s Play practices.

Documenting the history of Let’s Play communities, the reasons why people participate, and the changing practices for making and sharing Let’s Play videos will better equip future scholars and companies to engage with these growing communities.

Project team

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