"I never gave up" : engagement with playable characters and esports players of Overwatch
Välisalo, Tanja; Ruotsalainen, Maria (2019). "I never gave up" : engagement with playable characters and esports players of Overwatch. In FDG '19 : Proceedings of the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games. ACM, 40. DOI: 10.1145/3337722.3337769
© 2019 ACM
Esports phenomena have grown rapidly in recent years, and so has research on the topic. Some of the research has also addressed esports fandom (see e.g. Taylor 2012). Nevertheless, studies comparing and contrasting how players and fans engage with the game and the esports based on that game are scarce. This study compares and contrasts how players and fans engage with playable game characters and esports players. The paper draws on previous research in fan studies, sports fandom and esports to examine the relationships of players and fans of the videogame Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment 2016) with the fictional heroes of the game as well as with their favorite professional players in the newly started Overwatch League. We analyse how these relationships are articulated by fans and players, and pay attention to emerging similarities and differences. The findings show that personality is deemed important for engagement with both, game characters and esports players. In addition, gender and sexual orientation emerged as important factors. By contrast, nationality was deemed important for engagement with esports players, but not with player characters. Further research should concentrate on the connections between esports and identity politics, as well as player characters and identity construction. ...