Enhancing the Esports Experience

Laura Herrewijn and I had the honour of organising the first E3: Enhancing the Esports Experience workshop at the CHIRA conference in Rome🇮🇹 last week. Inspiring papers and talks, and what a bunch of wonderful people to connect with. (also, what a great city and amazing food!🍕🍝)

We’d like to thank all of the authors for their hard work and great talks (alessandro franzò, Minglei Wang, Tomáš Pagáč, Danielle Langlois). This could not have been possible without our amazing organisers (Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Günter Wallner, Simone Kriglstein) and the rest of our program committee (Wim Casteels, Florian Gnadlinger, Francisco Gutiérrez, Aqeel Haider, Danielle Langlois, Tomáš Pagáč and David Walewijns).

Thanks so much ❤️ and see you at the next one in 2024! 🕹️

Here’s an overview of the papers presented. Shoot me a message if you’d like the full texts!

Title: Initial Developments of Teamwork and Mental Health Focused Minigames for the Purpose of Esports Training
Authors: Danielle Langlois , Simone Kriglstein
Esports professionals have to cope with a lot of stress and really need to be in sync with their teammates in order to perform at their highest capability. As part of an ongoing project, we are working toward a battery of minigames aimed at helping esports professionals train their teamwork skills and improve their mental health. Proposed ideas include modules focused on meditation, teaching coping mechanisms for difficult social scenarios via visual novel, and synchronized breathing exercises. Each of these has pros and cons. With these ideas, we hope to further workshop and develop engaging minigames which can later be user tested.

Title: Power to the Spectator: Towards an Enhanced Video Game Stream Discovery Experience
Authors: Laura Herrewijn & Sven Charleer
Game streaming platforms like Twitch could benefit from more user control and transparency in recommendations. In this paper, we highlight the importance of allowing users to customise their streaming experience through three design goals: Social Interaction, Captivation, and Knowledge Acquisition, the latter addressing both skill improvement and serendipity. We discuss the preliminary results of our on-going iterative and user-centred design process aimed at improving the exploration experience for game spectators. More specifically we report on the results of co-design research to explore the parameters necessary for game spectators’ enhanced control over their game stream discovery experience.

Title: Gamers’ Eden: Gaming houses, their fuctioning, and their role inside the Esports Ecosystem
Authors: alessandro franzò
The current paper aims to analyse the complex array of practices entailed by teams and esports professionals by looking at one of the most peculiar phenomena of the esports field: gaming houses, i.e. the “co-operative living arrangement[s] where several players of video games, usually professional esports players, live in the same residence” (‘Gaming House’, 2022). These structures represent ideal hives to nurture new talents and workspaces for new-fangled professions (Bányai et al., 2020; Freeman & Wohn, 2019), allegedly constituting the prototypical breeding ground for an esports professional (Can, 2018). Representing one of the first attempts to assess the role of gaming houses as emerging esports spaces based on new forms of playbour (Goggin, 2011; Kücklich, 2005) and production of and by users (Hyysalo et al., 2016), the paper comprises an innovative literature review methodology to shed light on how the technological, material, and social elements are enacted through gaming houses’ activities, which mirror the ones entailed by digital platforms (Alaimo et al., 2020). As a matter of fact, through the three moves of encoding, aggregating and computing users’ interactions (Alaimo & Kallinikos, 2017), gaming houses (re)produce virtual and analogical goods, translating consumer practices and reshaping the gaming industry by constituting spatialised nodes in the broader esports ecosystem (Hölzle et al., 2022; Yström & Agogué, 2020). Finally, the contribution will critically engage with what is insiders depict as ultimate professionalising tools to see how their socio-material network may represent a privileged empirical ground for assessing how the esports ecosystem adopts new paradigms of work-life balance and users’ production (Hyysalo et al., 2016; Scholz, 2019), thus leading to a further reflection on the nature of play and working practices in our contemporary network society (Castells, 1996).

Title: The Communication Effectiveness of AI Win Prediction Applied in Esports Live Streaming
Authors: Minglei Wang
AI win prediction is widely used in the live streaming of Esports games, with the assumption that it is capable of significantly enhancing the viewing experience and providing valuable information to spectators. However, there is very little empirical research to demonstrate the actual attitudes and feelings of spectators towards AI win prediction. This paper describes an ongoing study from the perspective of communication effectiveness that aims to bridge this gap and explore some possible influencing factors, which could provide a scientific basis for better presenting AI prediction information in future Esports live streaming, thus further improving the viewing experience and engagement of spectators. This study has not yet officially begun on a large scale, so this paper primarily reports primary results from in-depth in-terviews, as a pilot study for the formal survey experiment. The perceived usefulness, the balance between credibility, accuracy, and dramatic effects, and the anthropomorphic image are mainly discussed.

Title: Using Audience Avatars to Increase Sense of Presence in Live-Streams
Authors: Tomáš Pagáč , Simone Kriglstein
Social interactions and the sense of presence are important for the spectatorship experience in live-streams. In large audiences, communication gets harder and viewers participate less. This paper explores the possibility of representing an audience using animated avatars to increase the sense of presence and potentially move some traffic from the chat window to the avatars. We discuss the motivations for and the challenges in creating an audience avatar interface.

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