Collegiate E-sports as Work or Play

Kauweloa Sky Winter Jennifer Sunrise
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This study examined how collegiate E-sport athletes conceptualize the process of their own competitive game play as situated between work and play. Using interviews guided by Stebbins’ (2007) serious leisure perspective, 12 active, competitive, collegiate E-sport players described how they experience their gaming as work or play, how belonging to a collegiate E-sports team has shaped their identity, and how they experience gaming within the structured environment of a collegiate E-sports club team. This study extends the serious leisure perspective by applying the framework to collegiate E-sports. Overall, Stebbins’ description of skill and knowledge development of serious leisure was supported and the findings are in accord with Stebbins’ conceptualization of “personal rewards”, in particular self-expression, self-image, and self-actualization. Additionally, competitive gamers frame their development as skilled players by integrating the idea of “gamesense.” The study also found differences between players’ experiences in a more structured program (scholarship-based) and less-structured one.