ESPORT FANGIRLS! WHERE YOUSE AT ???

With this blog, I want to unpack the information sources I have gathered in the formation of this pitch being presented in the following video. Make sure to watch it for a brief understanding of this DA before being bombarded with a bunch of information. I don’t want that for you!

Tsports and Esports fandom – a general scan

In relation to the similarity between the esports and tsports fandoms, the two genres seem to construct a similar experience, enabling fans to show their support, express this particular part of their identities via words and actions (Brown et al. 2017, p. 423). Means such as online fan pages/forums, merchandises, fan-greeting events are some mutual methods that are typically seen within the two genres in order to engage with fans. Another similarity which tsport and esport fans both share, is the dominated male demographic (Simmons Research 2018, cited by Hultgren 2018).

Additionally, it is important to understand the difference between the two types before moving on to the behaviors of the fans and how they are represented. The most fundamental and rather obvious difference is the embedded electronic environment of e(lectronic)sports. This difference in nature leads to the varieties in terms of fans’ motivations as well as the way they engage with the sports. Noticeably, higher learning motivation – to be better at the game – is associated with esports fans (Cushen, Rife & Wan 2019, p. 136). This is due to the ‘streaming’ culture (Knapp 2017, cited by Cushen, Rife & Wan 2019, p. 136), as streaming platforms provide opportunities for higher-level gamers to share their experience with the audience, while such instruction and interactions are not that largely available in tsports. The importance of this interactive environment that is embedded within esports is also picked up by Brown et al., who further emphasised the more passive nature of tsports (2017, p. 430).

Comparing the two fandoms, motivational profiles, and identification of the fans of these two sport genres, Cushen, Rife & Wan indicated that tsports fans can also be fans of esports as well and concluded that this relationship contradicts the stereotype of esports fans as being antisocial and only interested in video gaming (2019, p. 135). This is also confirmed by a study done by Simmons Research (2018), as only 5% of esports fans claim that they’re not fans of the traditional genre. Along with the similarities and differences which have been discussed, this finding helps to further complete the fundamental profile of esports fanbase in general, before looking into a more specific fan category, the fangirls.

Women in Esports and traditional sports – the common ground 

“For some brands and esports organizations, the notion that women could be esports fans  may be a foreign concept” – Duran, 2019 

“While women seem to be gaining momentum in the world of sport, there still seems to be a negative stigma surrounding their sporting legitimacy” – Kerr, 2018 

Such underrepresentation of the female fans is the greatest inspiration for me to base my DA on this issue. Female fandom in tsports has been dealing with the same issue of being underrepresented. However, due to the earlier establishment, more materials addressing this matter in the realm of traditional sports are available to look into. A noticeable finding, which discussed how female fans of football address themselves and how they want to be addressed, says that they wish to be seen simply as ‘fans’ (Cecamore et al. 2011, p. 22). Additionally, there seem to be two ways which the female fans are seen, either they are embedded with the sexy figure stereotype or they are considered to be irrelevant, not ‘worthy’ enough in this supposedly ‘male affair’ (Cecamore et al. 2011).

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the one picture needed to explain esports fan demographic (Source)

Searching within the limited materials about the esports fangirls representation, I was intrigued by those extremely short scenes of the fangirls in the documentary about the life of Stat Craft pro-gamers ‘State of Play 2013’. The girls cried both when seeing their idol didn’t do well and when he was able to gain back the confidence. Instead of criticizing the player, they ‘worried’ and sent gifts to him. In an industry where everyone is struggling against toxicity, the supportive image was attached to the female fans, does it mean we, as fangirls, play an important part in directing the e-gaming community to become healthier?

And to discover the level of impact the interactive nature of esports has on this issue, does it amplify the gender division and to what extent? And if yes, how can we counteract its effect?

More about the method

The focused group is important in confirming these findings and questions. More importantly, as my interest in the world of esports has just recently emerged, the focused group would, therefore, offer informative discussions with the ‘cultural insiders’ and potentially help me to find the most suitable paratexts to look into, in order to be comprehensively informed. BCM subreddit would be utilised in order to get in touch with ones that share the common interest in this matter and if you are reading this blog and would like to help, please comment down below!

Mentioned academic sources

Brown, KA, Billings, AC, Murphy, B & Puesan, L 2017, ‘Intersections of Fandom
in the Age of Interactive Media: eSports Fandom as a Predictor of Traditional Sport Fandom’, Communication & Sport 2018, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 418-435.

Cushen, PJ, Rife, SC & Wann, DL 2019, ‘The Emergence of a New Type of Sport Fan: Comparing the Fandom, Motivational Profiles, and Identification of Electronic and Traditional Sport Fans’, Journal of Sport Behavior, pp. 127-141.

Cecamore, S, Fraesdorf, K, Langer, R & Power, A 2011, ‘Sports Fandom: ‘What do Women Want?’ A Multi-Sport Analysis of Female Fans’, FIFA Master 11th Edition2010 – 2011, pp. 1-65.

 

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