Raising the Stakes
Competitive video and computer game play is nothing new: the documentary King of Kong memorably portrays a Donkey Kong player’s attempts to achieve the all-time highest score; the television show Starcade (1982–1984) featured competitions among arcade game players; and first-person shooter games of the 1990s became multiplayer through network play. A new development in the world of digital gaming, however, is the emergence of professional computer game play, complete with star players, team owners, tournaments, sponsorships, and spectators. In Raising the Stakes, T. L. Taylor explores the emerging scene of professional computer gaming and the accompanying efforts to make a sport out of this form of play.
In the course of her explorations, Taylor travels to tournaments, including the World Cyber Games Grand Finals (which considers itself the computer gaming equivalent of the Olympics), and interviews participants from players to broadcasters. She examines pro-gaming, with its highly paid players, play-by-play broadcasts, and mass audience; discusses whether or not e-sports should even be considered sports; traces the player’s path from amateur to professional (and how a hobby becomes work); and describes the importance of leagues, teams, owners, organizers, referees, sponsors, and fans in shaping the structure and culture of pro-gaming.
Taylor connects professional computer gaming to broader issues: our notions of play, work, and sport; the nature of spectatorship; the influence of money on sports. And she examines the ongoing struggle over the gendered construction of play through the lens of male-dominated pro-gaming. Ultimately, the evolution of professional computer gaming illuminates the contemporary struggle to convert playful passions into serious play.
About the Author
T. L. Taylor is Associate Professor in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. She is the author of Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press).
Table of Contents
- Raising the Stakes
- Raising the Stakes
- E-sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming
- T. L. Taylor
- The MIT Press
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- London, England
- © 2012
- T. L. Taylor
- All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
- For information about special quantity discounts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- This book was set in Stone Sans and Stone Serif by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
- Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
- Taylor, T. L.
- Raising the stakes : e-sports and the professionalization of computer gaming / T. L. Taylor.
- p. cm.
- Includes bibliographical references and index.
- ISBN 978-0-262-01737-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Computer games—Social aspects. 2. Sports—Sociological aspects—Case studies. 3. Sports—Psychological aspects. 4. Internet games. 5. Competition (Psychology). 6. Sports—Computer network resources. I. Title.
- GV567.5.T39 2012
- 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
- Acknowledgments vii
- 1 Playing for Keeps 1
- 2 Computer Games as Professional Sport 35
- 3 Professionalizing Players 85
- 4 Growing an Industry 135
- 5 Spectatorship and Fandom 181
- 6 Conclusion 239
- Appendix: Standard Player Contract without Insurance Provision 251
- Notes 263
- Bibliography 277
- Index 299
—Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, Host and Executive Producer, OneMoreGame.tv
—Toby Miller, author of Makeover Nation
—Henry Lowood, Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections, Stanford University
—Bart Simon, Director of the Centre for Technoculture, Art and Games, Concordia University, Montreal