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Transitioning Out of Esports: Exploring the Experiences of Professional Esports Players in South Korea

Hee Jung Hong and Seung Han Hong

This study explored the experiences of retired esports players, focusing particularly on their transition out of esports. Utilizing a qualitative approach, interviews were conducted with four retired professional esports players in South Korea. A thematic analysis revealed four recurring themes: career pressure and uncertainty, lack of preretirement planning, demand for mentorship support, and necessity for a realistic perspective on talent. The findings indicated that significant pressure and financial insecurity during their careers often catalyzed the players’ decisions to retire. Players were unprepared for postesports life due to inadequate preretirement planning. This study highlights the crucial roles of mentorship and realistic talent assessments in facilitating smoother career transitions. The main contribution of this research lies in its empirical evidence, which stresses the need for structured support systems for esports players transitioning out of professional gaming. Stakeholders within the esports industry can utilize these findings to formulate policies and programs aimed at providing financial assistance, career planning, mentorship, and guidance to players during their careers and upon retirement. The outcomes of this study can serve as a foundation for future research by clarifying the necessity for broader investigations into the experiences of esports players and the development of practical strategies to mitigate their transition challenges.

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Narcissism, Big Five Personality Traits, and Performance in Temporary Teams: An Investigation of League of Legends

George Horne, Adrian Furnham, and Simmy Grover

Esports are competitive video games that are typically played online. League of Legends (LoL) is an esport with a ranking system that measures player performance in temporary teams. Qualitative studies have suggested there are behavioral differences between ranks, with lower ranking players being more entitled and communicating antisocially. This study attempts to quantify this relationship of behavior and ranking, using trait Narcissism and five-factor model personality traits to measure these tendencies in behavior. Four hundred and forty-four players were recruited across paid and unpaid sampling. Narcissism was the only trait to be significantly associated with LoL ranking. This result may suggest Narcissism is slightly beneficial to success in LoL’s temporary teams, potentially through better emotional regulation while playing. However, as personality traits only predicted 2.8% of variance in LoL ranking, it is likely that player skill and other contextual factors have a larger influence on performance.

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Taking Care of Toxicity: Challenges and Strategies for Inclusion in U.S. Collegiate Esports Programs

Amanda C. Cote, Andrew Wilson, Jared Hansen, Brandon C. Harris, Md Waseq Ur Rahman, Onder Can, Tara Fickle, and Maxwell Foxman

Collegiate esports programs are rapidly expanding across the United States, offering a meaningful location in which to study diversity, equity, and inclusion. Because educational institutions must legally provide equal opportunities for all students, collegiate esports programs may need to avoid gaming culture’s longstanding tendency toward toxic behavior and language. At the same time, it is unclear whether or how effectively collegiate programs currently promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, necessitating further exploration. Drawing on 31 in-depth interviews with collegiate esports players, program directors, tournament organizers, and members of related student support organizations, this research identifies four challenges that collegiate esports programs currently face when trying to prevent toxicity and encourage broader cultures of care and inclusion: (a) ambiguous definitions of “toxicity,” (b) its normalization, (c) unclear reporting/response mechanisms for those facing harassment, and (d) the collegiate esports community’s insularity. We discuss each of these themes and their impacts individually, then provide initial recommendations for esports programs hoping to better care for their students.

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Communicating and Practicing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Finnish Esports Organizations: Challenges and Opportunities

Usva Friman, Maria Ruotsalainen, and Matilda Ståhl

In this study, we explore how Finnish esports organizations are communicating and aiming to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in their activities. The study is based on a qualitative analysis on two sets of research material: public websites of 53 esports organizations and interviews with representatives of five esports organizations. We have analyzed the textual and visual contents on these websites to see how Finnish esports organizations communicate diversity, equity, and inclusion—or exclusion—to their audiences. Analyzing the interview material, we have examined how Finnish esports organizations understand equity, what kind of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices they have applied in their operations, and what kind of challenges they have experienced in this area. Overall, this study describes how Finnish esports organizations do and do not present and experience themselves as diverse, equal, and inclusive environments, and what measures could be taken to increase these aspects in the Finnish esports scene in the future. The results of the study can be applied to various gaming and esports organizations and cultural contexts globally.

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“Fueling the Games”: Energy Drink Consumption, Marketing, and the Associated Perceptions and Behaviors in Video Gaming

Dana Roscoe, Haozhou Pu, Diana Cuy Castellanos, and Jennifer Dalton

Energy drinks represent one of the fastest-growing beverage markets and have become an increasingly popular dietary supplement among teenagers and young adults. Energy drinks are a class of beverages that contain high levels of energy-enhancing ingredients (e.g., caffeine, sugar, carnitine, taurine, and vitamins) that are presumed to provide physical and mental stimulation to users. Despite the growing popularity, there has been increasing scientific evidence warning consumers of the health risks associated with energy drink consumption. Meanwhile, many energy drink brands have deliberately created a symbiotic relationship with video gaming through a variety of marketing strategies. This study attempts to investigate the interrelationships between video gaming and energy drink consumption, including assessing the common motives and perceptions for consuming energy drinks, as well as the impact of energy drink marketing on gaming participants.

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Esports Minus Sport?

Gil Fried

Is esports a sport? That question has been answered by one court in the negative. However, is that court decision correct? What specific arguments can be raised in the future to deal with the argument that at the collegiate-level esports is not considered a real sport?

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The Internet Is Not Forever: Challenges and Sustainability in Video Game Archiving and Preservation

Brianna Dym, Ellen Simpson, Olivia Fong, and libi striegl

Video games are an increasingly significant cultural touchstone in people’s everyday lives. However, preserving and archiving video games faces unique challenges, including intellectual property law, technology degradation, and the broader question of what it means to preserve a video game. In an exploratory study investigating sustainable game preservation practices, we spoke to 15 amateur game preservationists and hobbyists about their informal work with code, gaming consoles, and servers for online play. We found a lack of access to particular games during childhood or young adulthood led participants to seek out these games in other formats—such as emulated games they could play on other mediums (e.g., playing Nintendo games on your personal computer). Their nostalgia and the communities they found searching for these experiences inspired them to undertake archival work. Participants leveraged distributed knowledge across their communities to keep video games accessible for anyone interested in playing them. Considering these findings in the context of modern archival practices, we discuss what it means to archive a game, especially when that game is dependent on interactive, communal experiences, and what is potentially lost in current archival practices in contrast to informal, accidental archival work.

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Exercise Recommendations for e-Athletes: Guidelines to Prevent Injuries and Health Issues

Arnau Baena-Riera, Lucia Maria Carrani, Aitor Piedra, and Javier Peña

In the last two decades, video games have gone from being pastimes to being a coveted profession with competitions broadcasted worldwide and high earnings for the winners. However, the esports environment is still little known, presenting a lack of knowledge on how to get physically ready to minimize the effect of prolonged sitting or avoid career-ending injuries. This article provides coaches and serious gamers with a program based on evidence and simple to implement. The main aims will be to prevent esports’ common injuries such as cervical and lumbar pain, wrist and shoulder overuse, and peripheral neuropathies. Our proposal contains protocols for warming-up, preventing injuries, and taking active breaks.

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Fighting/Fat: Fighting Game Characters and the Emptiness of Video Game Fatness

Todd Harper

The fatness of fat characters in screen media, video games included, is well understood on an aesthetic level. However, this research asks: Is there a mechanical dimension to the fatness of these characters? Fighting games, with their need for common toolsets among playable characters, offer a useful ground to explore that question. While the characters in this study did not exhibit a “mechanical fatness,” they do reveal that certain combinations of aesthetic fatness with gameplay mechanics may offer a potential site of resistance to the pervasive fatphobic tropes present in video games.

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Measuring Toxicity Toward Women in Game-Based Communities

Matthew Belskie, Hanlin Zhang, and Bradley M. Hemminger

Prior research into gaming toxicity in game-specific Reddit communities nearly always considers toxicity in aggregate, and so provides very few clues for a valid coding scheme for isolating toxic language and triggers that specifically target women gamers. Existing research offers a starting place for devising valid methods for measuring and detecting toxic language and toxic triggers within specified data sets, but that research is less useful is its applicability to game-related forms of toxicity targeting women gamers. Where this research had originally hoped to develop an automated method for scoring, limitations with automated detection of toxicity discussed within the paper prompted a shift to what the authors identify as a key intermediate step—better accuracy in toxicity detection by automated means—that will contribute to future achievements in reducing toxicity toward women and other targeted groups in gaming communities. This paper is intended to aid projects that aim to incrementally improve our understanding of toxicity toward women in games and game communities and how to effectively measure it. The conclusion of this research ultimately hopes to contribute to providing information to inform policies that create a safer and more respectful gaming environment for all gamers.