The Numbers Game: Collegiate Esports and the Instrumentation of Movement Performance

  • Nicholas TaylorEmail author


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”.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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