THE CASE OF COMPETITIVE VIDEO GAMING AND ITS FANDOM: MEDIA OBJECTS, FAN PRACTICES, AND FAN IDENTITIES
Newbury, Elizabeth Marie Howell
This project focuses on exploring the growing spectacle of esports fandom: those who are followers of competitive video gaming. As esports bridges across fan practices exhibited in popular communication, sociology of sports, leisure studies and video game studies, so too does this research project. Going from the media object, to fan communal practices, to individual fan practices, this research draws on a range of theories from framing, sports geography, and fan identity to better understand this emerging media form. The nexus of all of these theories is to combine understanding fan practices with a grounded theory approach. The central argument of this research is that, by elucidating these practices, scholars can better understand not only the emerging practices of fans but how they reflect core identities of the fans. Fans shape not only through our practices of fandom what it means as a communal activity, but how central the identity is to their own everyday lives. A backbone of fan identity is how gender is reflected back through the practice of being a fan. No matter the medium of the fan object itself, video games or other, a central component to our understanding of being a fan is how fan practices reflect gender stereotypes – and esports is no exception. To examine these arguments, I executed three studies using multiple methods. I used textual analysis, field observation, and personal interviews to analyze fans from a multitude of perspectives. Bringing these different methods together in the end, I reflect on our understanding of what it means to be a fan of not just esports but more broadly of entertainment mediums like sports. The theoretical implications suggest a need to update the scholarship’s understanding of sport and fandom. The practical applications are that, in this media rich world, we must better understand what fans do in everyday life.
audience studies; esports; fandom; gaming culture; sports fandom; Communication; Gender studies
Gillespie, Tarleton L.; McLeod, Poppy L.; Taylor, T.L.
Ph. D., Communication
Doctor of Philosophy
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
dissertation or thesis
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International