E-sports history project

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to get to run several e-sports workshops that have brought in key folks in the scene to discuss critical issues. The first, called E-sports and Cyberathleticism (I know I know, forgive that “cyber” bit!)  was co-run in 2009 at Stanford (while I was on sabbatical there) with the fantastic historian and archivist Henry Lowood and artist and scholar Matteo Bittanti. I’d been working on researching the scene since 2003 and this was the first time I got to be a bit more pro-active and structure and event around some of the amazing people I had met… or wanted to ;)  You can see from the program we had a fantastic line-up and though the audio had been lost in my archives all these years, I finally dug it up and have now put it on YouTube for those who really want a bit of a blast from the past.

The second of these events (the “European Edition” in 2010) was held at the IT University in Copenhagen (where I used to be a professor) and we co-organized with one of the smartest e-sports researchers around, Emma Witkowski. It was held in tandem with a PhD course we were running on the subject and once again we were able to get together some fantastic people to join us for an amazing day of conversation. Those videos were up for many years via an ITU hosted page then poofed. I’ve now also put them back online, this time at YouTube, so everyone can get a chance to see that discussion.

I’m increasingly interested in making sure e-sports history isn’t lost, especially given how much folks seem to think these days that the scene only appeared post LoL and Twitch ;)

Visit my YouTube page to check out the audio and video from two fantastic events with some real industry founders.

Twitch Creative launch interview

I was happy to get a chance to talk to Nora Young again over at the CBC’s Spark program about the recent launch of Twitch Creative. There have been a lot of interesting channels percolating on the platform that go beyond the bounds of strict gameplay and Twitch seems to be slowly integrating them. From game devs to musicians to now “creatives,” the platform seems to be becoming a home to lots of folks who like sharing their processes.

CBC Interview

Chronicle on collegiate e-sports

I was quoted in a short piece at the Chronicle of Higher Ed on the emerging collegiate e-sports scene. I found it interesting that what I think of as the newspaper for academics was taking this up.

One clarification from the piece, I do actually think gaming in college spaces is growing, my point to the reporter was more wanting to highlight that playing computer games on campus has long been a part of student life and we’re now seeing that get formalized (something Jesse Sell and I also discussed in our GDC lecture on the subject last year).

How videogames are becoming university-approved sports

Women in e-sports

We’ve seen big growth in e-sports in the last several years as platforms like Twitch have made it much easier to both broadcast and spectate, easier to become a fan or perhaps even imagine yourself competing one day. Growth moments are opportunities to look back at history and think about where we are going. Part of the history we want us to keep in mind, especially as we think about the future of the scene, is the active role of women in it since the beginning

Yup, I know this may seem surprising to some but it’s true! I put a question out on Twitter several months ago asking people to chime in with names of notable women in e-sports. What was fantastic was not only how many names people gave me — that list broke a hundred within about 48 hours — but that they ranged from contemporary figures to those that broke ground over a decade ago. Current players like like Scarlett, TempoEloise, or MissHarvey, to broadcasters like Lauren Scott, Anna Prosser Robinson, Sue Lee, or Eefje Depoortere were mentioned. Women like Mona Zhang who helped launch the Collegiate Star League (a key anchor for current collegiate e-sports), TossGirl (an amazing SC competitor), or Kat (Hunter) Metzen and Vanessa Arteaga (both involved in early attempts to bring e-sports to mass audiences) and numerous others who managed teams or help build local scenes were also highlighted.

Women have been involved in e-sports in a variety of ways – from players to “backstage” work – since the beginning. One of the most important things to think about right now is how to grow this powerful seed of women’s participation in e-sports and competitive gaming go build a stronger, healthier scene.

This is an exciting moment. Think about the conversation and energy that drove the tremendous change we’ve seen in women’s participation in traditional sports over just the last 40 years. Or what we are seeing now with women wanting to really be a part of the Twitch community. There’s tremendous opportunity!

I was incredibly excited to, with my partner-in-crime Morgan Romine, bring a panel on women in e-sports to TwitchCon to explore some of these issues. We had amazing ground-breakers speaking: Amy Brady (Director of Global Events, Twitch), Kim Phan (Sr. Manager, E-sports at Blizzard ), Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico (e-sports host and interviewer), and Rumay “Hafu” Wang (multi-game pro player).

You can watch a VOD of it now.

Stay tuned too for more on the women in e-sports history project I’m brewing up!