Playing Across Media: Exploring Transtextuality in Competitive Games and eSports

Egliston Ben
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

The aim of this paper is to explore the synthesis of digital games and observatory media facilitated by eSports and the competitive play of games. Borrowing from Genette's work in the field of literary studies, as well as media and game studies research, I describe the crossmedia assemblage occurring in competitive games as transtextual. A particular focus is the quantitative analysis of play in Valve's Dota 2. Using publicly archived player statistics, I describe how the broadcast play of professionals has come to exist as a locus of game knowledge and an impetus for styles of play for many amateur players. I argue that players must negotiate both the traditional gamespace and the space of surrounding texts with which gameplay has become conflated. Conversely, I posit that transtextual systems are situationally reflexive, and amateur players can assert change in professional domains. In addition to the compositional analysis of the crossmedia videogame form, I explore the phenomenological implications of this assemblage, namely digital games' movement away from its common conceptualisation as leisure based activity.