The origins of esports scholarship: a group interview

Florence Chee, Brett Hutchins, Nicholas Taylor, TL Taylor, Emma Witkowski, Henry Lowood, Will Partin (Editor), Matt Howard (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalComment / DebateOther


Sometime in 2021, it seems likely that the repository of scholarly articles and books on competitive gaming maintained by the Esports Research Network will notch its thousandth entry.1 This archive, like all archives, is partial. It creates—rather than reflects—an idea of what esports research means. Even so, its growing size is a testament to the boom in scholarship on competitive gaming over the last decade. Many disciplines, many methods, and many theories now contribute to esports research, all of which are welcome developments. And yet, there remains a tendency for authors to suggest that their work is the “first to consider …” or to claim that esports research is in its infancy. But esports research has a history, one that has occasionally been sidelined in the rush of contemporary scholarship on competitive gaming.Rather than offer a literature review, the editors of this issue (William Clyde Partin and Iris Bull) decided to approach scholars who were writing scholarship about professional gaming competition between 2000 and 2010 for a group interview. By and large, early work on esports was critical in disposition and qualitative in method (something the editors have tried to preserve in this special issue). Less an overview of their scholarship and more a historicization of it, this group interview is intended to provide thick context around the emergence of some of the earliest articles, books, and dissertations on competitive gaming. Our hope is that by paying attention to the conditions under which this research took place, current and future scholars will better understand how, why, and where esports scholarship emerged, in what forms, and for what audiences.The scholars represented here are:Florence Chee, associate professor in the School of Communication and director of the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy, Loyola University ChicagoBrett Hutchins, professor of media and communications and head of the School of Media, Film, & Journalism, Monash UniversityNicholas Taylor, associate professor of digital media and director of the PhD program in communication, rhetoric, and digital media (CRDM), North Carolina State UniversityT. L. Taylor, professor of comparative media studies, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyEmma Witkowski, senior lecturer, RMIT University, MelbourneHenry Lowood, Hohbach Curator for history of science & technology collections and the curator for film & media collections in the Stanford University Libraries.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • esports
  • gaming
  • Gaming culture
  • Media history

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