Esport from a sociological perspective. Reflections on the social dimension of electronic competitive gaming

DSpace Repository


Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2023-09-06
Language: English
Faculty: 6 Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Sportwissenschaft
Advisor: Thiel, Ansgar (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2023-08-08
DDC Classifikation: 000 - Computer science, information and general works
300 - Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
796 - Athletic and outdoor sports and games
Keywords: E-Sport , Sport , Soziologie , Körper , sozial , Immersion , Digitalisierung
Other Keywords: virtualität
gesellschaftliche Auswirkung
social impact
Order a printed copy: Print-on-Demand
Show full item record


Competitive computer and video gaming, commonly known as esport, has evolved from a subculture to a mainstream phenomenon in the last three decades. Due to various parallels with traditional sports in terms of professionalization, sportsmanship, marketing, or media coverage, esport is often referred to as a sport. At the same time, esport is characterized by a new form of movement culture in sports, where virtual and real worlds overlap. This dissertation examines the social dimensions of esport and competitive gaming from a sports sociological perspective to investigate the impact esport has on society. It sheds light on the academic discourse surrounding esport and explores theoretical and practical implications for sport and society. The digitalization and technological advancements have significantly influenced the development of esport, leading to its discussion as part of popular media and sports culture. Despite some counterarguments regarding the legitimacy of esport as a sport, it has evolved into a thriving ecosystem and a multi-million-dollar industry with many links to the traditional sport system. However, a key difference between esport and traditional sports is that esport takes place in both the digital and real world, while traditional sports are exclusively practiced in physical spaces. Players immerse themselves in the virtual world of gaming and are physically and mentally connected to it. This poses unique demands on players compared to other sporting activities. In esport, players engage in real competitions, are aware of their physical and mental performance, and utilize the interplay between the digital and real worlds to surpass their opponents. In this context, the role of the body in esport is an emerging research topic and differs from the extensive exploration of the body in traditional sports. Due to the disruptive nature of esport in the realm of traditional sports, this dissertation focuses on one of the fundamental questions of sports sociology: the impact of sport, in this case esport, on society. To do so, different social dimensions of esport are investigated by answering the following research questions: • What societal impact does esport have? • What role does the body play in esport and competitive gaming? • What effect does the shifting focus from physical to digital corporeality have on players' behavior and the ecosystem? After initially providing an overview of relevant definitions, the origins, and the current state of research on esport, the thesis then explains the theoretical background concerning the role of digitalization in sports, the relevance of immersion, and the interface between the virtual and real worlds in esport and competitive gaming. Subsequently, two scoping reviews and a conceptual paper address the research questions, which are discussed and summarized in the final part, thus providing the basis for new research on the societal impact as well as other social dimensions of esport.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)