Viewing esports

Watching esports matches is incredibly popular, and thanks to new technologies, the experience of doing so is brought into the same conversation as Saturday league football.

Esports is a phenomenon that has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popular prestige, commercial viability and audience investment. People love playing games that could be considered an esport, such as Counter-Strike, and this love for play becomes a love to watch.

Any individual esport viewing experience can be completely controlled by the viewer if they chose to enter the tournament through the spectator client and watch the game using its own engine.

A majority of the audience tend to watch a specific networks stream. A network such as Electronic Sports League (ESL) often live-streams a video feed that is formed from footage taken from the physical cameras they have in the arena, capturing the players at their desks and the in-game virtual camera feed that is managed by an observer. An observer is a person whose role is to create and manage the in-game content captured through the spectator client. Much of what has been described resembles a traditional sporting television broadcast: multiple cameras capturing all the action as it happens in a play by play fashion.

However, a very important difference exists between esports coverage and televisual coverage. The role of the observer combines two roles that have traditionally been separate in the television industry: the role of the vision mixer and the camera department. The vision mixer is the person responsible for choosing which camera is being transmitted to your TV at home, while the camera department continually offer different shots of the action to create a cohesive story. By combining these two roles, one creates a dependence on the first-person perspective that, while benefiting the gamer, alienates the unfamiliar.

This research aims to make the first-person shooter video game more accessible to a non-gamer audience by way of incorporating a third person virtual camera. This perspective allows those less familiar with the game’s mechanics to understand the story of the round and ultimately aims to bring esports into the same conversation as the Saturday league football water cooler conversations.

Student: Martin Buckley

Martin is a final year student studying Film and TV Production in the department of Theatre, Film and TV at the University of York.