Category Archives: posts

MIT x Tencent

Last weekend we were fortunate to host some visitors from Tencent China for an extended two days of gaming and conversation. You can read the full write-up over at our GameLab blog.

One of the things I did during the weekend was offer some opening remarks at a panel on the positive values of esports. Writing it was an interesting challenge given so much of my research and writing takes a slightly different angle, one that looks at everyday lives and institutional practices often through a critical lens. Trying to distill into just a couple pages a very straightforward account of the positive side of the scene was a great exercise. Below are my remarks that will perhaps be of some interest to folks.


The Power of Playing, and Competing, Together.

I want to speak today about the power of playing, and competing, together. I’m a sociologist and over the past two decades I’ve dedicated myself to the study of the internet and gaming, some of the most exciting domains a scholar can work on. In 2012 my book on the professionalization of esports in North America and Europe came out. It was the culmination of research that began in 2003 and involved interviewing players and organizers, visiting tournaments, and following how the growth of computation and the internet was facilitating a whole arena of sports.

In this era of huge tournaments with massive prize pools, we may sometimes forget that esports originates in grassroots communities that took their passion for gaming and transformed their play into vibrant competitive spaces. They took the games developers made and pushed them to their limits. They built entirely new sporting scenes out of these digital playing fields.

When I finished my esports book, it was unclear how popular competitive gaming would become. It was still a subculture, a niche gaming space.

Live streaming has, of course, changed everything. Continue reading

Spring wrap-up

Whew. I feel like the last half of spring was quite a sprint! Only now coming up for air enough to post a little update.

Several terrific events happened post GDC that I’ll mention:

AnyKey went to PAX East again where we got to spend a great weekend in the diversity lounge hanging out with lots of other amazing orgs doing important work to make gaming better for all.

I was also thrilled to finally get a chance to attend (and keynote) QGCon. It was an inspiring event filled with lots of great talks, demos, and fantastic people :)  I got a chance to share some of my work on live streaming and got a ton of helpful feedback.

My final speaking engagement of the semester was for UC Irvine’s inaugural esports symposium. I spoke about women and esports, including some of the work we’ve been doing at AnyKey. Take a watch if you’d like to learn more!

Finally, I was honored to be inducted as a fellow for the Higher Education Video Game Alliance in March. It’s a treat to be included in such an amazing group of scholars.

GDC 2017

I just got back from a pretty full week in SF for GDC. The trip kicked off with a visit to Twitch (see prior post) and then two talks at the conference itself. I spoke on Tuesday about the history of communities in building the esports scene and then gave a microtalk in the advocacy track focusing on our AnyKey work. Hopefully both will make their way to the GDC Vault (and not paywalled) and I’ll link the videos here when/if they do. In the meantime though I wanted to put up a pdf of the slides from the microtalk mostly because I want to make sure to shout-out all the fantastic folks and projects I mentioned in it.

GDC microtalk, “5 Myths in 5 minutes”

Twitch talk

It’s no small thing when the platform you’ve been studying for quite a few years invites you in to give a talk and leaves it pretty open as to what you speak about. The invite said “We like to hear about how successful individuals got to where they are today and what they’re up to now” – gulp! Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time mulling over what I might share that wouldn’t be old news to them ;)  I ended up trying to pull on a few threads from several of my major game research projects. I really enjoyed the visit and the great conversation. Here’s a VOD of if you are interested! Thanks again for the invite Lauren Forbes and Twitch!
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