The Revenge of the Nerds: Uncovering Practices of E-Sports and Fantasy Sports: An Abstract
In recent years marketplaces around the world experienced a boom in several unconventional competitive events in online environments. E-sports and fantasy sports are two of the popular current examples. Not only there is a growing number in these competitive events, but they are also becoming culturally and financially very attractive. Media houses are seeking collaboration with these events, for example, ESPN is now televising E-Sports tournaments, as does TBS and Twitch, a website that works as a central platform for streaming E-sports events and has a viewership of about 43 million a month, acquired by Amazon for $930 million in August 2014. The phenomenon became so popular that some of the universities in the USA offer athletic scholarship for E-sports players. Recently, the NBA started its own E-sports league with the goal for each NBA “real” team to own an E-Sports team and compete in a virtual NBA championship. This paper discusses some of the explanation behind the popularity of the aforementioned trends from a practice theory perspective. Practice theory is an appropriate lens in this research, as it takes the performative character of social life if foregrounded and it privileges its analysis. We specifically focus on fantasy sports and E-sports.
The consumption of fantasy sports and E-sports relates to the consumption of traditional sports, perceptions and knowledge of sports, and consumer identities evolving around sports consumption and fandom. Overall, the consumption of fantasy sports and E-sports is becoming increasingly popular among consumers and involves many self-related and social complexities, and therefore, it could be beneficial in understanding these phenomena through the lens of practice theory. Practice theory helps us understand how the intersection of sport consumption practices in everyday life influences overall sports consumption and consumer identities evolving around sports practices. Fantasy sports and E-sports consumption is shaped by understanding of traditional sports, one’s self-concept and skills, and social activities that evolve around sports. As a result of such consumption, consumers find the opportunities to develop new relationships, strengthen their relationships that evolve around fandom of certain sports, develop various skills, and experience sports at a more intense level. Consumers start to see more “coopetition” rather than competition or cooperation aspects of sports and routinize sports as a part of their everyday selves. These practices help consumers personalize and intensify their experiences with sports in general and, as a result, enable a higher level of immersion into virtual sports.