The Numbers Game: Collegiate Esports and the Instrumentation of Movement Performance
- 71 Downloads
This chapter reports on a longitudinal ethnographic study of a collegiate digital gaming team, participating in a North American network of intercollegiate competition in the massively popular online game, League of Legends. The study parallels, and is woven into, a period of intensive investment in the burgeoning scene for competitive, broadcasted video gaming (esports) between postsecondary institutions. Dozens of universities and colleges in the United States and Canada now offer scholarship programs, training facilities, nutritionists, and coaches for elite competitive gamers. Operating within this context of rapid institutionalization and professionalization, the team I have been following has developed ad hoc sociotechnical practices for getting better that demand close attention from scholars of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and sports. Situating their approach to data collection and analysis within broader histories of technical instrumentation in professional sports, collegiate sports, and professional esports, I argue that these players productively incorporate and hybridize the roles of athlete and analyst that are often kept separate in other sports domains. The chapter concludes by considering the implications of this hybridization, at a time when the interconnected domains of video games, sports, and the military are increasingly invested in the capacities of networked digital media to translate embodied performance into “moving dots”.
- Belson, K. (2017, September 7). NFL expands use of chips in footballs, promising data troves. New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/sports/nfl-expands-use-of-chips-infootballs-promising-data-trove.html.
- Burton, R., Hall, K., & Paul, R. (2013). The historical development and marketing of fantasy sports leagues. The Journal of Sport, 2(2), 185–215.Google Scholar
- Dyer-Witheford, N., & de Peuter, G. (2009). Games of empire: Global capitalism and video games. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Furnas, A., & Lezra, G. (2012, August 28). Make way for the soccer geeks. The Atlantic. Retrieved June 28, 2018, from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/makeway-for-the-soccer-geeks/261634/.
- Galison, P. (2003). Einstein’s clocks, Poincare’s maps: Empires of time. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Giddings, S. (2007). Playing with non-humans: Digital games as techno-cultural form. In S. de Castell & J. Jenson (Eds.), Worlds in play: International perspectives on digital games research (pp. 115–128). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
- Guttmann, A. (1978). From ritual to record: The nature of modern sports. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Harper, T. (2014). The culture of digital fighting games: Performance and practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hickey, W. (2012, June 22). Missile tracking technology is unlocking the game of basketball. Business Insider. Retrieved December 2018, from https://www.businessinsider.com/missile-tracking-technology-is-unlockingthe-game-of-basketball-2012-6.
- Kou, Y., & Nardi, B. (2014). Governance in League of Legends: A hybrid system. In Proceedings of the 9th international conference on the foundations of digital games. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from http://www.fdg2014.org/proceedings.html.
- Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Lewis, M. (2004). Moneyball: The art of winning an unfair game. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Maheswaran, R. (2015). The math behind basketball’s wildest moves. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://www.ted.com/talks/rajiv_maheswaran_the_math_behind_basketball_s_wildest_moves.
- McMahan, I. (2017, March 8). Eight things we learned from the 2017 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 25, 2018, from https://www.si.com/edge/2017/03/08/mit-sloan-sportsanalytics-conference-nba-nfl-mlb-takeaways.
- Packer, J. (2013). The conditions of media’s possibility: A Foucauldian approach to media history. In J. Nerone (Ed.), Media history and the foundations of media studies (pp. 1–34). New York: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Partin, W. (2016, June 22). Dota 2 might be nearing its ‘Moneyball’ moment. Killscreen. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://killscreen.com/articles/dota-2-moneyball-moment/.
- Partin, W. (2017, April 12). College esports programs are growing, but can they field a winning team? Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/news/heroes-of-the-dorm-do-collegeesports-programs-matter-w476281.
- Partin, W. (2018, September 18). Blizzard’s ban on third-party Overwatch apps was never about competitive integrity. Variety. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://variety.com/2018/gaming/columns/blizzards-ban-on-thirdparty-overwatch-apps-was-never-about-competitive-integrity-1202961745/.
- Segal, D. (2014, October 10). Behind League of Legends, esports’s main attraction. New York Times. Retrieved June 20, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/technology/riot-games-league-of-legends-main-attractionesports.html.
- Taylor, N. (2009). Power play: Digital gaming goes pro. PhD Dissertation, York University, Toronto.Google Scholar
- Taylor, H. (2018a, April 4). Research reveals most popular esports on Twitch. Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-04-04-research-reveals-most-popular-esports-ontwitch.
- Wenner, L. A. (1998). Playing the MediaSport game. In L. A. Wenner (Ed.), MediaSport (pp. 3–13). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Witkowski, E. (2013). Eventful masculinities: Negotiations of hegemonic sporting masculinities at LANs. In M. Consalvo, K. Mitgutsch, & A. Stein (Eds.), Sports videogames (pp. 217–235). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Witz, B. (2014, March 24). College basketball data aplenty for those who can afford it. New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/25/sports/ncaabasketball/sportvu-offers-collegebasketball-data-for-those-who-can-afford-it.html.
- Wyshnynski, G. (2018, February 28). Player tracking coming to the NHL? It’s complicated. ESPN. Retrieved November 23, 2018, from http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/22604597/nhl-great-player-tracking-debate-ethicalquestions-fan-access.