“Overwatch is anime” – Exploring an alternative interpretational framework for competitive gaming

Ruotsalainen Maria Välisalo Tanja
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

Esports has often been likened and compared to traditional sports. This paper suggests an alternative interpretative framework for competitive gaming by focusing on the team-based first-person shooter game Overwatch. We explore Overwatch esports using multi-sited ethnography and demonstrate how the fans and viewers use a rich spectrum of cultural products to enrich and explain their relationship with esports. In the case of Overwatch, anime is particularly prominent, used not only to enrich and explain, but also to challenge ‘sports normativity’, which is visible in the media discussions on Overwatch as well as in the production choices of the esports tournament organizer. This also has consequences on the norms and the values of the fans and the viewer: for instance, it affects the way masculinity is constructed in the context of competitive Overwatch.


“There Are No Women and They All Play Mercy”: Understanding and Explaining (the Lack of) Women’s Presence in Esports and Competitive Gaming

Ruotsalainen Maria Friman Usva
2018 DiGRA Nordic '18: Proceedings of 2018 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

In this paper, we explore women’s participation in esports and competitive gaming. We will analyze two different types of research material: online questionnaire responses by women explaining their reluctance to participate in esports, and online forum discussions regarding women’s participation in competitive Overwatch. We will examine the ways in which women’s participation – its conditions, limits and possibilities – are constructed in the discussions concerning women gamers, how women are negotiating their participation in their own words, and in what ways gender may affect these processes. Our findings support those made in previous studies concerning esports and competitive gaming as fields dominated by toxic meritocracy and hegemonic (geek) masculinity, and based on our analysis, women’s room for participation in competitive gaming is still extremely limited, both in terms of presence and ways of participation.