SCT #10: TL Taylor and the rise of eSports

In Episode 10 of Social Change Technology TL Taylor talks about her new book Raising The Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming. This work, like TL’s previous book Play Between Worlds, focuses on the interplay between people, technology and institutions.

In the podcast, TL charts the rise of e-sport / professional computer gaming from early arcade competitions through the LAN-party scene to the rise of e-sports leagues in South Korea, the US, and Europe. The evolution of professionalisation fo computer games has brought with it a reconsideration of what computer games and sports are, what it is to be a competitor and spectator. The growth of professionalisation has not been without its conflicts such as the relatively recent debacle between Blizzard (makers of World of Warcraft, StarCraft etc) and the South Korean e-sports body KeSPA. TL explains how ownership of the electronic ’field of play’ has become contested as have player performances - a legal issue also recently seen in traditional sports.

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Dr. T.L. Taylor
T. Taylor is Associate Professor in the Center for Computer Games Research and a founding member of the Center for Network Culture at the IT University of Copenhagen. She has been working in the field of internet and multi-user studies for over fifteen years and has published on topics such as play and experience in online worlds, values in design, intellectual property, co-creative practices, avatars and digital embodiment, gender and gaming, and e-sports.

Raising The Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming In Raising the Stakes, T. L. Taylor explores the emerging scene of professional computer gaming and the accompanying efforts to make a sport out of this form of play. In the course of her explorations, Taylor travels to tournaments, including the World Cyber Games Grand Finals (which considers itself the computer gaming equivalent of the Olympics), and interviews participants from players to broadcasters. She examines pro-gaming, with its highly paid players, play-by-play broadcasts, and mass audience; discusses whether or not e-sports should even be considered sports; traces the player’s path from amateur to professional (and how a hobby becomes work); and describes the importance of leagues, teams, owners, organizers, referees, sponsors, and fans in shaping the structure and culture of pro-gaming. Taylor connects professional computer gaming to broader issues: our notions of play, work, and sport; the nature of spectatorship; the influence of money on sports. And she examines the ongoing struggle over the gendered construction of play through the lens of male-dominated pro-gaming. Ultimately, the evolution of professional computer gaming illuminates the contemporary struggle to convert playful passions into serious play.” Source: Publisher.
Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture “In Play Between Worlds, T. L. Taylor examines multiplayer gaming life as it is lived on the borders, in the gaps–as players slip in and out of complex social networks that cross online and offline space. Taylor questions the common assumption that playing computer games is an isolating and alienating activity indulged in by solitary teenage boys. Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), in which thousands of players participate in a virtual game world in real time, are in fact actively designed for sociability. She considers “power gamers,” who play in ways that seem closer to work, and examines our underlying notions of what constitutes play–and why play sometimes feels like work and may even be painful, repetitive, and boring. She also looks at the women who play Everquest and finds they don’t fit the narrow stereotype of women gamers, which may cast into doubt our standardized and preconceived ideas of femininity. And she explores the questions of who owns game space–what happens when emergent player culture confronts the major corporation behind the game.” Source: Publisher

Show Links

<< Episode #9
Federal Consortium For Virtual Worlds 2012
All Episodes Next episode coming soon

Podcast music: “For the Horde” kindly provided by 100 Robots.

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One response to “SCT #10: TL Taylor and the rise of eSports”

  1. another podcast drops | t. l. taylor

    [...] of these categories. I definitely recommend the podcast as a whole, and you can check out my own episode here! [...]

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