Call: Understanding Esports Audiences – Interdisciplinary Esports Seminar

Call for Papers

Understanding Esports Audiences
Interdisciplinary Esports Seminar

Part of the CoEsports-network event Esport Nexus Jyväskylä
Jyväskylä, Finland
November 7-8, 2024

Submission deadline for abstracts: August 11, 2024

Esports are both mediated and performed by their nature. As such, they are always performed to someone: Imagined and real audiences are indistinguishable parts of esports and as long as there has been competitive gaming, there has been different forms of spectating play, both online and offline. Understanding esports and esports cultures requires understanding esports audiences.  For service providers and teams in the esports ecosystem, understanding audiences is likewise crucial, as viewership numbers, ticket sales and merchandise sales are dependent on engaging audiences successfully.

One of the pivotal points in the history of esports was the birth of live-streaming services such as which opened esports to audiences in a whole different way (Scholz, 2019), but even before that audiences were integral part of competitive play, be it by the television watching game shows (Kerttula, 2020) or in early onsite esports tournaments (Taylor, 2012). Not only are esports performed to audiences, but audiences themselves are part of the production of esports spectacles, undertaking a number of different kind of labour (Carter & Egliston, 2021): From spamming to to cheering in on-site events, audiences are active in the way the affective atmospheres of esports are constructed. Audiencing (Fiske, 1992) is ever-present in esports.

Spectating play serves a number of different functions for audience members, ranging from active fandom to learning to play better (Stuetz & Waddell, 2020; Qian et al., 2020). With and via esports, audience members negotiate identities (Siitonen & Ruotsalainen, 2022), assign meanings (Ruotsalainen & Välisalo, 2020), and experience numerous affects (Egliston, 2021). Different modes of participation can likewise offer diverse ways of consuming esports, from live events and venues such as esports bars to watching live streams on one’s mobile phone.

In order to advance understanding audiences in esports, the interdisciplinary seminar Understanding Esports Audiences aims to bring together research from different disciplines in order to deepen our understanding of esports audiences. In this vein, we invite submissions discussing esports audiences. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Esports and fandom
  • Live-streaming
  • Esports events and audiences
  • Audiencing in esports
  • Comparison of esports and sports audience


Dr. Lars de Wildt
Assistant Professor in Media & Cultural Industries at the Centre for Media & Journalism Studies, University of Groningen.



We invite abstracts of up to 300-500 words (excluding references).

We are furthermore exploring possibilities of a joint publication based on the seminar presentations.

Please submit your abstract to:


Submissions will be reviewed by the program committee:

Raine Koskimaa
Matti Leppäniemi
Tero Kerttula
Veli-Matti Karhulahti
Maria Ruotsalainen
Kalle Pasanen


Submission deadline: 11.8.2024
Notices of acceptance: 26.8.2024


Understanding Esports Audiences is organised by University of Jyväskylä in collaboration with CoEsports-network ( and Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies ( The seminar is part of the three day CoEsports-network event Esport Nexus Jyväskylä (6-8.11.2024) bringing together Esports academia and industry.

If you have any questions in regard to the seminar, please contact:

Seminar website:

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer an opportunity for remote participation this time.


Carter, M., & Egliston, B. (2021). The work of watching Twitch: Audience labour in livestreaming and esports. Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, 13(1), 3-20.

Egliston, B. (2021). Statistics, spectatorship, and the “attention economy” of esport. Global Esports: Transformations of Cultural Perceptions of Competitive Gaming, New York: Bloomsbury, 115-31.

Fiske, J (1992). Audiencing: a cultural studies approach to watching television. Poetics 21(4): 345–359.

Kerttula, T. (2020). Early Television Video Game Tournaments as Sports Spectacles. In Esports Research Conference. Carnegie Mellon University; ETC Press.

Ruotsalainen, M., & Välisalo, T. (2020). “Overwatch is anime”: Exploring an alternative interpretational framework for competitive gaming. In Conference of Digital Games Research Association (Vol. 2020). Digital Games Research Association.

Scholz, T. M., Scholz, T. M., & Barlow. (2019). eSports is Business. Springer International Publishing.

Siitonen, M., & Ruotsalainen, M. (2022). “KKona where’s your sense of patriotism?”: Positioning Nationality in the Spectatorship of Competitive Overwatch Play. In Ruotsalainen, M., Törhönen, M., & Karhulahti, VM. (eds.). Modes of Esports Engagement in Overwatch (pp. 89-112). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Stuetz, K., & Waddell, J. C. (2020). Esports fandom and the collegiate student-athlete experience: Active audiences and spectatorship. In Multidisciplinary perspectives on media fandom (pp. 240-252). IGI Global.

Taylor, T. L. (2012). Raising the Stakes: E-sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming. MIT Press.

Qian, T. Y., Wang, J. J., Zhang, J. J., & Lu, L. Z. (2020). It is in the game: Dimensions of esports online spectator motivation and development of a scale. European sport management quarterly, 20(4), 458-479.


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