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Uniwersytet SWPS - Logo

Large-scale Live E-sports Events in Poland and Hong Kong
research
ongoing

Large-scale Live E-sports Eventsin Poland and Hong Kong

principal investigator / project leader
Mateusz Felczak
Ph.D. / Assistant Professor

cultural researcher

Full bio
project value: PLN 578,197
funding source: National Science Center
discipline: culture and religion studies
research center: Institute of Humanities
location: Warsaw
duration: 2019 2020 2021 2022

Nowadays, electronic sports (also known as e-sports) are one of the fastest growing branches of digital entertainment. Professional e-sport competitions draw large audiences, not only in the case of mass e-sport events, but also in relation to live transmissions of e-sport games available on digital streaming platforms. Although South Korea remains the birthplace of e-sports, a rapid and successful development of this discipline has been noted in many other regions of the world. Currently, Poland and Hong Kong are two leading countries with a rapid proliferation of initiatives related to competitive playing of e-sports. Dr. Mateusz Felczak from SWPS University researches the phenomenon of e-sport culture.

Project Objectives

The project encompasses the investigation of large-scale e-sport events in Poland and Hong Kong. The researchers will focus on two aspects of these events, including a ludic spectacle and mediated participation.

  • The first aspect involves an analysis of publicly available large-scale e-sport events, such as tournaments and competitions of international rank. The goal of this part of the project is to describe, analyze and interpret the issues related to ludic and social aspects of large e-sport events, such as audience participation and specific fans practices.
  • During the second part of the project, the researcher will assess mediated participation in e-sport events, i.e. participation via live-streamed broadcasts available on Twitch.tv, which in Poland and Hong Kong, is the dominant digital streaming platform featuring large-scale e-sport events. The large-scale e-sport events that will be studied include Intel Extreme Masters in Poland and the largest Asian e-sport hub – Mong Kok, located in Hong Kong.

The project aims to build upon the existing classic scholarship concerning the various forms of play (as described by Johan Huizinga or Roger Caillois) and move into the game studies and media studies-oriented platform analysis. The overarching goal of the study is to investigate the overlapping areas of technological and ludic affordances in the case of large-scale e-sport events. The key research topics include: the influence of a streaming medium (e.g. Twitch.tv) on the reception of e-sport events in Poland and Hong Kong, a comparison of e-sport cultures in the aforementioned regions – especially in the context of fans’ cultural production, the assessment of factors that influence the content and form of a broadcast. The last element pertains to the selection of broadcasted titles and specific fragments of gameplay, the nature of e-sport commentary, and the level of interaction afforded by the various on-site amenities, as well as the digital interfaces of the streaming platforms.

The goal of the project is to address the research gap currently present in the e-sport scholarship and to cover topics that are currently missing from the ongoing research on e-sports. Moreover, there is a shortage of studies concerning regional e-sport cultures in Poland and Hong Kong, and the existing research lacks the comparative angle.

E-sport has quickly evolved from a niche entertainment, popular among a small group of computer games enthusiasts, to huge international business supported by hybrid (digital and non-digital) tools, services and platforms. Large-scale e-sport events combine two spheres of cultural communication, namely the digital aspect, related to live transmissions enabled by streaming platforms, and the ludic-spectacle aspect, which includes various forms of participation by the audience, which is watching the competitions. The main goal of the project is to research the crossroads of these two spheres in the Polish and Asian context. I will examine how the streamed content is filtered and selected. I will also study the circulation of cultural exchange enabled by e-sport events, that is to what degree they are influenced by a particular context, and to what degree they undergo unification due to a common pool of titles, competition formats and sender-receiver conventions.

Felczak, Mateusz Principal Investigator
Bio
Tak
Permanent employee
Tak
First and last name
Mateusz Felczak
Role in the Institute
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Specialization
cultural researcher
Academic degree or title
Ph.D. / Assistant Professor
City
warszawa
Position
adiunkt
Role in the Research Center
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Role in the Faculty
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Role in the Department
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Discipline
Array
Faculty
Array
Institute
Array
Ph.D. / Assistant Professor Mateusz Felczakcultural researcher

Methodology

The grounded theory will provide an overarching methodological tool for the project, while the auxiliary research tools, adapted to serve the analysis of Twitch.tv, will include the Ervin Goffman frame analysis (developed by Finnish researchers), and paratextual framework in Mia Consalvo’s approach.

Project results

The results of the project will include:.

  1. Scientific description of the media and cultural context concerning the phenomena related to e-sport in Poland and Hong Kong, such as: the practices of fandom reception, media codes used for promotion and transmission of related content, and models of this phenomenon’s growth.
  2. Definition and description of communication discourses (based on data obtained from instant messaging apps and paratextual analysis) concerning e-sport issues in the area of digital streaming platforms.
  3. Analysis and interpretation of mutual influences of the technologically mediated interaction spaces as well as traditional, ludic forms of spectacles, which take place beyond the digital sphere, in relation to e-sport.

Social potential

The analysis of paratextual productions created by fans will shed some light on the patters of generating and transforming cultural texts in the context of digital platforms. The project will also provide an opportunity to research the agency of participants of e-sport events, in particular to what degree the participation model is being realized in the case of e-sport. A comparison of the ludic-spectacle and the media-participatory aspects of e-sports in Poland and Hong Kong will allow to observe the dynamically growing sphere of media communication based on streaming platforms. The observation of the behaviors exhibited by people engaged in these forms of digital culture, in cooperation with the gamers’ community and content providers, will increase the social potential of the project.

Economic potential

The project focuses on basic research, therefore its direct objectives do not include potential commercial applications. However, certain reports based on data obtained during the project could be used to develop a set of recommendations for practices concerning moderation and control of content circulation, especially in case of streaming platforms, which later may be used by content providers or decision makers collaborating with these types of platforms. Similar initiatives, although lacking the comparative aspect of this study, have been undertaken by AnyKey group, under the leadership of Professor T.L. Taylor (MIT). Moreover, data pertaining to the models and types of participation in e-sport events may be used to better align the offer of commercial content providers to participants and to increase inclusivity of the offer.

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