Seminar on eSports, Exergaming, and Fantasy Leagues

November 22nd–23rd, 2018, Jyväskylä

Arranged by the Center of Excellence in Game Culture Studies, in collaboration with the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences.

Keynote speakers

  • Dr. Nick Taylor:  "The Numbers Game: Sports, eSports, and the Instrumentation of Performance" 
  • Dr. Emma Stanmore: "Real world testing of exergames in assisted living facilities in the UK"

Extension to deadline: Abstracts may still be submitted, until July 31st. (Those who submitted abstract by the original deadline, will be notified about decision by the end of June)

Competitive playing of digital games has rapidly increased in popularity. There are thousands of professional players and millions of amateurs around the globe. Professional leagues and tournaments attract big audiences both in the big arenas, but especially around the online streams. The biggest tournaments are held around a relatively small set of games, but there is competitive gaming taking place in almost all possible games. eSports has been recognized in many ways as an alternative and competitor to traditional sports, be it in relation to players, audience or sponsorship. Being a professional digital game player has become a viable career option, and in Finland as in many other countries, new study programs have been established around esports.

Fantasy Leagues and virtual sports are another form of sports hobby supported by digital media. They are tightly connected to traditional sports and series such as Premier League, but they have also features comparable to eSports. Fantasy Leagues have a long tradition of their own, and they provide an important point of comparison to eSports. They also open up perspectives to the increasingly mediated sports spectatorship.

Exergames are digital games, which require and support physical movement. Movement may serve as an interface with the game, the games may motivate physical exercise as in many gamified rehabilitation applications, or they may be entertainment games employed to increase physical activity of the players. Exergames may also include completely new forms of playing, or they can extend traditional sports and games. Console games requiring physical movement (played e.g. by Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox Kinect) seem to have lost their greatest popularity in entertainment use, but the augmented reality game Pokémon GO rose as one of the most played games ever, and according to recent studies, seems to have managed to increase the physical activity of its players significantly. Also, there are interesting new virtual reality games, where physical movement is an integral part of the gameplay.

Both e-Sports and exergames expand the fields of more traditional sports and physical exercise. There has not been too much of contact between the researchers in these separate fields. eSports, however, possess many characteristics common with traditional sports and exercise, and eSports training recognizes the importance of both physical and mental competence. Exergames, on the other hand, take advantage of the digital game qualities, and in order to function as intended, they have to provide attractive enough experiences. There should be significant synergy between these research fields, and this seminar is intended as a common forum where researchers in these diverse fields of study may showcase their work and learn about each other.

We are inviting presentations, which may deal either with eSports, Fantasy Leagues, or exergames, but we specifically encourage such proposals, which provide perspectives combining these fields. The presentations may also discuss research-in-progress projects. Possible topics include, but are not restricted to, the ones listed here:

  • eSports training and exercise
  • eSports physiology and psychology
  • team dynamics in eSports
  • eSports streaming and spectatorship online
  • eSports management, marketing, and sponsoring
  • eSports as social and cultural activity
  • Fantasy Leagues and Virtual Sports
  • various game genres and their significance in eSports
  • Exergaming interfaces
  • Exergaming in physical recovery
  • Physical load and impact of exergames
  • Gamification of sports and physical exercise
  • Use contexts for exergames
  • Experience of exergames
  • Move-to-play solutions
  • Impact of eSports and exergames on physical activity

Extended abstracts (max. 600 words + Bibliography) should be submitted by July 31th 2018 [Submit here]. Abstract should include the affiliations of the authors, a short bio of the lead author, and contact information.

Decisions on the proposals will be made by the end June. There are plans to produce a publication, either a journal theme issues or an edited volume, based on selected seminar presentations.

There will be a small eSports tournament arranged during the seminar, and exergaming demonstrations showcased. If you wish to present your own demo, please, contact the seminar organizers by the end of August 2018.

Another keynote lecturer will be announced later.

The seminar date: November 22nd-23rd, 2018

Dr. Nicholas Taylor, Assistant Professor of Digital Media at North Carolina State University, is interested in digital gaming cultures and the many forms of communication and work that sustain them. His research interests broadly concern the role of digital gaming and play in our everyday lives, and the new and re-mediated forms of communication, sociality, work and labor that coalesce around digital games. Taylor is particularly interested in the growing professionalization of video game play, through the rise of competitive gaming (aka "eSports") communities and the leagues, clans, and tournaments that constitute the emerging eSports industry.

Dr Emma Stanmore, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences is the Deputy Lead for the Healthy Ageing Research Group (the University of Manchester). Emma has over 20 years combined experience in healthcare, research and teaching with a particular focus on health innovation (new ways of delivering care or use of digital health technologies to promote uptake, access to services and avoid hospitalisation) and the promotion of healthy ageing. She has completed research projects, amongst other topics, on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Exergames for falls prevention exercises amongst older people. Her current program of research focuses on using gamification to improve health literacy and prevent functional decline in older adults.