E-SPORT AS PHENOMENON: Master's thesis in Interactive Digital Media

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Thor Vest Tidemand
4. term, Interactive Digital Media, Master (Master Programme)
This master’s thesis sets its focus on the growing phenomenon of e-sports. The motivation behind this focus is twofold. First, there is the student’s own experiences in competitive e-sports and as such a personal interest in investigating the practice. Then, there is the observation that trying to grasp and understand e-sports is mostly done from the perspective of the market, business, technology, viewership and so on, instead of from a cultural perspective focusing on the practitioners of e-sports. Therefore, there is also a scientific curiosity behind this thesis and the finding, that even though e-sports is a researched topic, the author believes it lacks an understanding of one segment of its core users: the professional e-sport practitioners.

Establishing the pre-understanding of the problem area as well as conducting background research, the thesis then moves on to the research question, which is: “What does the professional e-sports practitioners think of their own practice, and specifically in reflection to sports?”. This is designed with the underlying thoughts of McGonigal’s statement regarding e-sports as being able to “improve quality of life” as well as how the digital interactivity is affected by the high level of competition, but lacking level of control in the scene. To narrow the scope of the study the game genre of Digital Collectible Card Games is chosen, as well as the specific game of Hearthstone within this genre.

From here, a literature review is conducted regarding how to define e-sports in the thesis, as well as how to understand how others think about their own practice. The study takes the scientific theory perspective of the phenomenological approach trying to go about the study in an inductive and empirical way. In more precise terms, the approach leans more towards Heidgger than Husserl, and takes a more hermeneutical phenomenological style with allowing the context of the author to be a part of the understanding and interpretation of the study.

The research design is a qualitative strategy and the chosen methods are autoethnography, game analysis and focus group interview. The autoethnography is carried out on the authors own experiences in e-sports using three “epiphanies” and hereafter reflection-on-action. The game analysis is a “game community” analysis focusing on the audience, game community and cheats of the game Hearthstone. The focus group interview is conducted virtually with four professional Danish e-sports practitioners in Hearthstone. Afterwards, the interview is transcribed and condensed into units of meanings.

Looking closer at the condensed meanings and dividing them into themes and then creating statements from them, the findings can be more easily accessed and compared to the results of the autoethnography and game analysis. The results from the autoethnography are recognizable in the statements, as well as the results from the game analysis. The study is then discussed with a state-of-the-art review and reflections on further work.

The conclusion explains how far in the qualitative process the study got in the end, elaborating on further iterative work possibilities, as well as brings up the research question and the underlying thoughts again. These are concluded upon, leading to an attempt to develop a work-in-progress theory that: “The professional e-sports practitioners in Hearthstone originally thought e-sports as an opportunity to compete with others without the need of social and physical demands that other alternatives implied”.
LanguageDanish
Publication date3 Jun 2019
Number of pages112
ID: 305009121