The Esports Research Network (ERN) is here!

Esports, or competitive video gaming, is a major global phenomenon (est. revenue at $1.1bn, audience at 495m) that has developed from the internet cafes of the 90’s into a billion dollar industry that fills some of the largest stadiums in the world; there have even been suggestions that it be included in the Olympics. 

Esports has been defined as a form of sports where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the esports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces (Sjöblom & Hamari 2016). As a computer mediated form of sport, esports has significantly impacted the ways in which we perceive both video gaming and of traditional sports, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen the further adoption of electronic formats as part of traditional sporting activities. As such, we see esports as a prime example of the gamification of the structures of our society and culture. 

While the media attention and the increasing buzz around esports can be blinding, there are numerous aspects of this phenomenon which are still overlooked and unexamined, and various regional differences in esports are evident. This situation is one which necessitates increased attention from the research community and more joint efforts to provide further knowledge for the development of this emerging industry.  

In 2019, Dr. Tobias Scholz arranged an informal gathering of researchers at ESL Cologne, with the intention of bringing together members of the international research community who share an interest in esports; several members of the Gamification Group were in attendance. As a result of this meeting, the idea of a global Esports Research Network (ERN) was formed and,  in July 2020 the network was formalized under German law. 

Within the first month of its existence the ERN has gathered together over 100 international researchers from various disciplines including, media studies, informatics, business, sports science, sociology, law, health and medicine and many more. 

The network aims to connect researchers around the topic of esports, to develop connections to the industry, and to further the impact of research and its practical application. The network  is concerned with the development of the next generation of esports researchers and practitioners, and is committed to fostering inclusivity and diversity through its activities and research endeavours. 

The first board of the association, elected by members, consists of:

  • Tobias Scholz (University of Siegen, Germany) as Chairperson
  • Brian McCauley (Jönköping University, Sweden) as Vice-Chairperson
  • Maria Törhönen (Tampere University, Finland)
  • Nico Besombes (University of Paris, France)
  • Stephanie Orme (Emmanuel College, U.S.A.)
  • Craig McNulty (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
  • Julia Hiltscher (University of Bonn, Germany)
  • Martin Maties (University of Augsburg, Germany) 

As a founding member and active participant of the network, Gamification Group will be involved in the future endeavours of ERN. If you are interested in joining the network, please fill in a membership form here.

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