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Conceptualizing the Social Inclusion Potential of Esport to Support Future Sport for Development Agendas: A Capabilities Perspective

Emily Jane Hayday, Holly Collison-Randall, and Richard Loat

Drawing on the capabilities approach to position esport within the Sport for Development (SfD) context, this paper highlights the social inclusion drivers of virtual engagement through esport as an innovative approach to progress current SfD methodologies. We present a new conceptual model in response to calls for enhanced theoretical understanding within SfD and specifically expose how esport can be used as a mechanism to support human development and inclusion outcomes. We focus specifically on gender equality as an exemplar of a prominent development objective; however, the model has applicability to any social inclusion related development aim. This paper proposes that esport should be welcomed as a new digital mechanism by policy makers, funders, and practitioners, as we indicate how this new conceptual model could be operationalized to aid SfD policy and practice.

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The Effect of Extended Reality Exercise on Physical Activity and Physical Performance in Children and Youth: A Scoping Review

Simon Schaerz, Morgan Boyes, and Amanda Mohamed

Physical activity is vital for children’s and youth’s healthy growth and development. Despite the physical, psychological, and social benefits, many children and youth are not physically active enough. Extended reality exercise (XRE), which incorporates virtual, augmented, and mixed reality exercise-based gaming, has been touted as a possible tool for not only promoting physical activity but also developing physical performance. Accordingly, we conducted a five-stage scoping review to identify themes and gaps in the literature pertaining to the application of XRE in physical activity-related research. We identified a positive impact of XRE on physical activity and performance in children and youth, including those with and without impairments, with a predominant preference for nonimmersive virtual reality in the majority of studies. There is a paucity of studies that specifically investigate the effects of XRE on physical activity in impaired children and youth. Likewise, more research is needed to determine how XRE can be leveraged to develop physical performance in nonimpaired children and youth. There is also a need for more large-sample studies that incorporate fully immersive XRE.

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An Investigation Into the Attitudes of Virtual Cycling Participants Regarding Avatar Bodyweight Manipulation and Weight Doping

Bryce Dyer and Jacqui Taylor

This study aimed to investigate the viewpoints and attitudes about virtual e-cycling apps with respect to the manipulation of an avatar’s stated body weight. An adaptation of the Performance Enhancement Attitude Scale delivered in the form of an online questionnaire was created to assess the act of intentional avatar weight manipulation in e-cycling apps. The level of agreement to 12 items was measured on a 5-point Likert scale, and 638 responses were received. Content analysis was performed on the responses to two open-ended questions. The respondent’s disagreed with nine of the 12 Performance Enhancement Attitude Scale statements suggesting that they saw no value to the practice of intentional avatar weight manipulation. The qualitative analysis revealed that many respondents appeared to accept that e-doping was common practice, and that prevention measures and punishment were ineffective. The results of the Performance Enhancement Attitude Scale questionnaire and content analysis by the majority of the respondents support that the act of avatar weight manipulation in virtual cycling esport sees similar results, feedback, and undesirability to other forms of sporting fraud such as the use of performance-enhancing drugs. It is, therefore, proposed that the act of avatar weight manipulation should be treated as an illicit, deceptive, or wholly negative practice.

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An Examination of the Effects of Source Gender on Perceived Credibility of Esports Shoutcasters

Celine Charitat and Beth A. Cianfrone

Esports broadcasters, known as shoutcasters, are an important part of the professional gaming industry. The credibility of these shoutcasters is an area that is understudied, yet critical from a production, consumption, and administrative standpoint. There are few women in this role, and research has shown women who work in the gaming industry may face hostility and toxic masculinity. Audience views of casters have not been empirically tested. Following the source credibility theory, the purpose of this study was to explore gamers’ perceptions of trustworthiness and expertise of male and female shoutcasters in the professional gaming industry. A quasi-experimental design was employed in which gamers (N = 239) were recruited and randomly assigned to one of two groups. Each group watched a video of a League of Legends match and evaluated the casters, either (a) two males or (b) one male and one female. Participants did not perceive differences in casters’ expertise levels but did have a small significant difference with the female caster being perceived as more trustworthy than the male. While controlling for gamer identification and involvement, there were no significant differences in a female/male pairing’s expertise and trustworthiness in comparison to the all-male pairing. Discussion centers on the findings with consideration that esports are often a noninclusive space.

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Lateral Prefrontal Cortex Activation Induced by Proficient Skills During Rhythm Action Game

Takashi Oyama, Fumiya Chiba, and Teruaki Ito

The activity of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during rhythm action game was measured using near-infrared spectroscopy. Participants were classified into two groups (Skilled and Novice) based on their skill in the game, and three levels of difficulty of the game (easy, medium, and difficult) were imposed on the participants as experimental tasks. Changes in oxygenated hemoglobin in the PFC were measured using near-infrared spectroscopy, and the effect of playing the game on the activation/deactivation of the PFC was examined. Activation in the lateral PFC was observed in the Skilled group when participants played on the medium and difficult levels, whereas it was not observed in the Novice group when participants played on any level. Deactivation of the medial PFC was also observed in both groups. The observed activity of some regions of the PFC suggests differences in cerebral processes as a function of the rhythm action game.

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The Effects of Different Types of Training on Cognitive Performance in Professional Esports Players

Clément Thillier, Nicolas Besombes, Nounagnon Frutueux Agbangla, and Damien Vitiello

Over the past decade, the number of studies on cognitive performance in esports has increased in line with its popularity. Cognitive functions like task switching, information processing, attention, and memory have been identified as an integral part of cognitive performance. In parallel, different types of training, ranging from physical to a combination of cognitive and motor tasks, have emerged as promising strategies to improve cognitive function and thus performance of esports players. However, only acute high-intensity interval training was studied in esports players and exclusively in recreational players. Due to the lack of specialized training programs for esports coaches, the small number of professional esports players and the relative youth of professional esports practice, there is a large gap in the literature regarding cognitive performance training methods to improve the cognitive performance of professional esports players. Based on these results, the present invited commentary encourages further studies to be conducted among professional esports players. Indeed, research perspectives are necessary to develop training protocols and optimal training schedules to improve professional esports players’ performance. In addition, this commentary supports the collaboration between academic and professional esports organizations. Finally, we provide recommendations to allow a win-win condition for both researchers and professional esports players in the future.

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An Ecosystem Framework for the Meta in Esport Games

Sunny Thaicharoen, Jeremy Gow, and Anders Drachen

This paper examines the evolving landscape of modern digital games, emphasizing their nature as live services that continually evolve and adapt. In addition to engaging with the core gameplay, players and other stakeholders actively participate in various game-related experiences, such as tournaments and streaming. This interplay forms a vibrant and intricate ecosystem, facilitating the construction and dissemination of knowledge about the game. Such knowledge flow, accompanied by resulting behavioral changes, gives rise to the concept of a video game meta. Within the competitive gaming context, the meta represents the strategic and tactical knowledge that goes beyond the fundamental mechanics of the game, enabling players to gain a competitive advantage. We present a review of the state-of-the-art of knowledge for game metas and propose a novel model for the meta knowledge structure and propagation that accounts for this ecosystem, based on a review of the academic literature and practical examples. By exploring the dynamics of knowledge exchange and its influence on gameplay, the review presented here sheds light on the intricate relationship between game evolution, player engagement, and the associated emergence of game meta.

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An Auto-netnographic Approach to Understanding Alternate Gaming Accounts: How Smurfing Impacts the Prosumer Experience in Counter-Strike:Global Offensive

Brian McCauley

Esport-based game titles, such as Counter-Strike:Global Offensive, represent platforms where players simultaneously consume and produce content as prosumers. Through peer-to-peer presumption, these players co-create value between themselves to drive a range of emotional and social outcomes. Smurfing is the act of higher skilled players utilizing alternate game accounts to play with lower skilled players resulting in unbalanced competitive experiences. This study combines an auto-netnographic approach with interviews to provide novel insights on this pervasive phenomenon. Through combining perspectives of regular players and those who engage in smurfing, three key themes are identified. Smurfing is embedded within gaming platforms, driven by complex motivations, and framed as cheating according to perspective.

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Development of the Esportsmanship Scale and Analysis of Its Relationship to Well-Being, Physical Health Problems, Gaming Addiction Tendencies, Aggressive Feelings, Empathy, and Self-Positivity

Shiroh Ohno

A steep increase in young people’s participation in esports in Japan has demonstrated potential adverse health effects as well as impacts on their well-being. Therefore, protective guidelines are required to address this issue. Hence, a novel measurement tool was used in this study to understand the social and health effects of esports. Using an online survey (n = 1,612), factor analysis yielded a two-factor structure for the 12-item esportsmanship scale. Analysis of covariance was used to test whether the factors of enjoyable and normative esportsmanship and time spent playing esports were associated with well-being, physical health problems, gaming addiction tendencies, empathy, and self-positivity. Enjoyable esportsmanship was associated with favorable psychological tendencies, such as well-being, empathy, and self-positivity. The findings also suggest that increasing normative esportsmanship may be able to inhibit physical health problems and the degree of gaming addiction. The analysis of covariance demonstrated that more time spent on esports was significantly unfavorably associated with physical health problems, gaming addiction tendencies, and aggressive feelings. Future research should aim to clarify the causal relationship between these psychological tendencies and esportsmanship and conduct a detailed analysis of whether the effects and impacts of esportsmanship differ according to game genre.

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Exploration of Internet Gaming Disorder Among the Esports Community

Ryan Woolhouse and Robert Patton

As of 2014, Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) has been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) as a condition for further study. There are questions about the validity of the current diagnostic criteria, particularly when distinguishing IGD from avid or professional gaming. This study aims to explore the validity of the DSM-5 criteria for IGD, establish prevalence rates, and identify predictive factors of IGD within the esports community. A sample of 147 esports players completed an online survey comprising of an IGD measure (Internet Gaming Disorder Scale 9—Short Form [IGDS9-SF]) based on the DSM-5 criteria, and a range of health, and demographic questions. The IGDS9-SF significantly correlated with psychological distress and disability (impairment in daily functioning). An exploratory factor analysis confirmed the IGDS9-SF criterion loaded onto a single factor. Using the 32-point cutoff for IGD on the IGDS9-SF, findings indicated that 11.64% of nonprofessional esports players and 5.26% of professional esports players met IGD cutoffs. Level of disability was the only significant predictor of reaching the IGD cutoff. These findings support the DSM-5 conceptualization of IGD within the esports community and identify a potential larger risk for nonprofessional players. The clinical implications and future directions for research as result of these findings are discussed.