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Exploring Motives for Twitch Viewership and Content Creation With the Exergame Zwift

Marion E. Hambrick, Anthony E. Montanaro, Evan L. Frederick, and Adam R. Cocco

Exergames require users to actively participate in sports in real time. Individuals taking part in exergames can use the livestreaming platform Twitch to create and view related content. This study employed uses and gratifications theory to examine Twitch usage and the motives of viewers and content creators of Zwift, a bicycling exergame. Thematic analysis of semistructured interviews with 10 Twitch users revealed viewers and content creators shared the motives of interaction and knowledge. Viewers also identified the motives of community, fandom, and competition as important, while content creators were additionally motivated by accomplishments, brand, and broadcasting. These findings align with previous research of Twitch usage and offer advice for practitioners. The study also highlighted the importance of studying the underinvestigated exergames, providing an opportunity to grow this participation.

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Tryhard With a Vengeance: Meaning Making and Boundary Keeping on Twitch

Sarah Evans and Stephen M. Llano

Tryhard is a derogatory term aimed to insult players who are “trying too hard” in video games. In the past few years, there have been notable controversies surrounding tryhard, most insidiously in a memetic permutation of the term via the TriHard emote on Twitch. We will use the case of the meme “tryhard” and the racist deployments of the emote “TriHard” to show how the meme generates meaning from circulation, enabling a variety of interpretations. We argue that claims about banning particular memes or emotes on Twitch are part of this battle over the stability of the meaning of the utterance, not a solution to the potential for memes to carry negative or harmful meanings. The implication is that decisions like banning a meme or restricting its circulation will eliminate the problem of inappropriate meaning. We argue that such policies remove this reconstitutive ability from communities, eliminating the opportunity for rearticulation and, therefore, new definitions.

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An Exploratory Investigation of Personality in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Phil D.J. Birch, Lottie Greenlees, and Benjamin T. Sharpe

Personality traits can provide insightful predictions relating to thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The aim of the present study was to examine differences in personality traits across in-game rank in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). A total of 95 CS:GO players from the United Kingdom and North America were classified using CS:GO in-game rank and grouped into high, moderate, and low in-game rank. The NEO-Five-Factor Inventory questionnaire was utilized to measure the Big Five Personality traits. Using one-way multivariate analysis of variance with follow-up tests of discriminant analysis, our main finding was that high in-game rank players reported significantly lower levels of neuroticism and significantly higher levels of conscientiousness than both moderate and low in-game rank players. The present study offers preliminary evidence elucidating personality differences across in-game rank in CS:GO players.

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The Influence of Coaches and Support Staff on the Sleep Habits of Esports Athletes Competing at Professional and Semiprofessional Level

Daniel Bonnar, Matthew Hwu, Sangha Lee, Michael Gradisar, Sooyeon Suh, and Michal Kahn

The present study investigated the influence and perspective of esports coaches and support staff on the sleep habits of esports athletes competing at professional and semiprofessional levels. Eighty-four esports coaches and support staff from 19 countries completed an online questionnaire. The first section obtained demographic information. The second section evaluated sleep hygiene knowledge using the Sleep Beliefs Scale. The third section assessed sleep monitoring and sleep hygiene practices used by coaches and support staff with esports athletes, barriers to the use of these practices, and conditions that impact the sleep of esports athletes. Overall, sleep hygiene knowledge was inadequate (<75%, based on the study of Miles et al.). Sleep monitoring frequency was low (48.8%), while sleep hygiene practices were implemented more often (66.7%). The most common barrier to sleep monitoring and sleep hygiene practices was players not liking it (50% and 46.3%, respectively). Night competitions (64.6%), congested competition times (51.2%), and night training schedules (47.6%) all rated highly as having an impact on esports athletes’ sleep. Sleep education and training for coaches and support staff in the optimal use of sleep monitoring and sleep hygiene practices may increase the frequency and quality of sleep health support provided to esports athletes.

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Novice Women Players Have Better Outcomes in Women-Only Versus Mixed-Gender Esports Tournaments

Kyle Nolla, Mark Beeman, Paul Reber, and Alice Eagly

Competitive video gaming or esports is a field with the potential for gender-equal competition. However, esports is dominated by cisgender men at both the casual and professional levels. When a field is highly gender-imbalanced, gender minority groups tend to perceive the field as unwelcoming, which reduces interest in the field and further perpetuates unequal participation. One potential pathway to encourage interest and participation is the creation of gender-specific spaces, such as women-only tournaments in esports. To study the group effects of gender on tournament experience, we recruited cisgender women who were novice gamers for in-laboratory, one-on-one esports tournaments under two conditions: in women-only tournaments or mixed-gender tournaments with equally novice cisgender men. Our results show that in matches between men and women, women underperformed against men regardless of whether her opponent had played more often, less often, or equal to her in the past year. In addition, women who played in women-only tournaments gave more accurate estimates of their skill and reported greater task importance than women who played in mixed-gender tournaments. In practice, women-only tournaments may aid recruitment and retention of women in esports as a supplement to gameplay in mixed-gender competitive spaces.

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Physical Exercise and Performance in Esports Players: An Initial Systematic Review

Craig McNulty, Seth E. Jenny, Oliver Leis, Dylan Poulus, Peter Sondergeld, and Mitchell Nicholson

Background: Participation in esports (excluding active video games) has raised concerns due to its sedentary nature and the potential negative effects this may have on player health. As well, research suggests that physical activity (PA)/exercise improves specific cognitive skills that have been identified as positive contributors to esports performance. The aim of this systematic review was to assess whether evidence supports that PA/exercise positively impacts esports player performance. Methods: The systematic literature search comprised PubMed, SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO, and Web of Science up until March 31, 2022. An additional search included reference list searching, citation searching, and hand searching. Results: Emerging evidence suggests that PA/exercise as an intervention may have a positive effect on esports performance. While it appears that the majority of esports players believe PA/exercise to be beneficial to esports performance, only a minority currently undertake PA/exercise for the purpose of improving esports performance. Conclusion: Although further controlled experimental research is necessary, results highlight that PA/exercise may positively correlate with esports performance. These effects are consistent with the majority of player perceptions that PA/exercise is beneficial to esports performance. Qualified fitness and health professionals should be utilized to implement training to enhance esports performance, improve health, and extend player career length.

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The AACTT of Trash Talk: Identifying Forms of Trash Talk in Esports Using Behavior Specification

Sidney V. Irwin, Anjum Naweed, and Michele Lastella

Esports, much like conventional sports, are guided by social norms that determine the acceptability or unacceptability of certain behaviors. One act guided by social norms is trash talk. However, understanding its practice has been difficult due to the various definitions of its use. Focusing on the first-person shooter genre, this study aimed to uncover and encapsulate the various forms of trash talk into a single framework. Applying Presseau et al.’s Action, Actor, Context, Target, and Time (AACTT) framework for specifying behavior, 61 cases of trash talk were analyzed across Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six: Siege esports. Actions associated with trash talk were primarily found through verbal and written exchanges though they can occur through in-game mechanics—a practice unique to esports. Traditionally, actors and targets are the professional players in a game. However, trash talking was also practiced by coaches, stage talent, and esport organizations. The context of trash talk can be further identified through physical, environmental, and social settings, and whether the time trash talk occurs is centered around a match or tournament. Understanding the impact of each AACTT element may have on the social norms of trash talk can allow researchers to further distinguish behaviors across esport consumers.

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“It’s Easier to Play Alone”: A Survey Study of Gaming With Disabilities

Pauliina Baltzar, Lobna Hassan, and Markku Turunen

Within gamers, disabled people remain an understudied minority. While research indicates that they actively play single-player games, we lack an understanding of their experience with multiplayer games. This study aims to answer the following research questions: (a) What kind of games do disabled people play? and (b) Why do disabled people not play multiplayer games? The questions are answered using survey data focusing on playing digital games as a person with disabilities. In total, 92 answers were analyzed. The findings suggest that disabled people play both single-player and multiplayer games and they play games for the same commonly reported reasons as players without disabilities do, although demographics seem to be a key differentiating factor among them in their playing habits, rather than disability differences. However, disabled people reported that they play single-player games more often. We identified four themes from our data that explain why multiplayer games are played less, which are: playing company and insecurity about one’s own skills, lack of relaxation while playing, lack of game accessibility, and lack of interest. Our results indicate that much more work is needed to ensure, especially the social, as well as the technical accessibility of multiplayer games.

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Stress Management Strategies in Esports: An Exploratory Online Survey on Applied Practice

Oliver Leis, Matthew Watson, Laura Swettenham, Ismael Pedraza-Ramirez, and Franziska Lautenbach

Given the competitive nature of esports (e.g., maintaining focus and adaptive coping) and the increasing interest from practitioners in addressing stress management issues, empirical evidence on stress management strategies is needed that is tailored to the unique demands of esports. To ensure that ethical and professional standards are being met, it is important to first explore the factors that practitioners perceive to negatively impact the performance of esports players and the stress management strategies that are currently being used to support these players. Therefore, an online survey of 25 practitioners was conducted with results highlighting a variety of factors that were perceived to negatively impact players’ performance such as players’ ability to cope and lack of self-confidence. In addition, stress management strategies used before and after competition most frequently included strategies such as imagery, breathing techniques, and social support. Future research directions, limitations, and practical implications are discussed.

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Do We Need Esports Ecology? Comparisons of Environmental Impacts Between Traditional Sport and Esports

Walker J. Ross and Wil Fisackerly

The impact of climate change will require a closer examination of esports’ environmental impact and how the environment will impact esports. This paper presents a conceptual examination of this bidirectional relationship between esports and the environment by utilizing the framework of sport ecology. Aspects of the Sport Event Environmental Performance Measurement tool and the Climate Vulnerability of Sport Organizations framework may be applicable to esports in future research to better understand this environmental relationship. There are similarities in how live esports events are hosted when compared to traditional sports, but the potential for remote competition does change the dynamic of this environmental relationship. While remote competition can limit environmental exposure and impact, it does potentially create two environmental points of exposure and impact compared with one at an in-person event. More development is required in this space to better understand the role of esports organizations and the nature of esports itself.