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Gamers want more chances to connect with star players and developers at physical esports events

Gamers are looking for more chances to connect in-person with each other and their favourite players and developers, according to a new study which questioned players on their experiences of physical esports events.

Team playing esports on computers
Gamers want to attend in-person esports events where they can connect with each other and star players

Professor Babak Taheri from the Marketing and Consumer Studies Research Centre at Nottingham Business School (NBS) surveyed 549 League of Legends spectators, interviewed 13 World of War Craft players and immersed himself in the culture of the game by playing and interacting with gamers over the course of 12 months.

Along with co-authors Dr Jamie Thompson, lecturer in Marketing at Edinburgh Napier University, and Florian Scheuring, Assistant Professor of Business Management at Heriot-Watt University, he explored the role that player fandom can play in encouraging gamers to attend in-person events. Fandom is a participatory and social experience with fans travelling to live events in order to cheer for their favourite team and players, as well as to interact with fellow fans who share their self-identity.

The lure of star players and well-known game developers was a significant motivational factor for players to attend events. This suggests that organisers of esports events should be looking to market any star players who may be competing, as well as reaching out to developers and other key stakeholders who are ‘idolised’ within the community so that attendees have the chance to meet these celebrities of the gaming world.

Recommendations also include partnerships between host cities and esports providers to create experiences to encourage attendance, such as ‘can’t miss’ special events for dedicated fans of particular teams.

The findings also showed that player’s friendships and a sense of belonging positively influenced them to attend physical esports events. This was generated from their interactions and long-term memberships of guilds, and the sense of community they have constructed through years of playing online.

However, the research revealed that while they were keen to meet up with online friends, they had concerns over undertaking costly international travel to meet online players as opposed to close family or friends. Geographical distance was often seen as a restraint, particularly among European players who felt that too many events were held in the USA and wanted to see an increase in smaller, local esports events they could engage with.

The report suggests that local event providers could offer official forums, chat areas, and Discord channels promoted by the esports organisation prior to events. This would promote friendship and enthusiasm in the build-up and make fans feel more comfortable about travelling, while also giving attendees a chance to seek advice on where to stay and what to do when in the host city.

The paper Developing esports tourism through fandom experience at in-person events has been published in the journal Tourism Management.

For further information on the Marketing and Consumer Studies Research Centre at Nottingham Business School visit the website, Twitter or LinkedIn.

The consistent message of a sense of belonging and feeling connected among those questioned in the study suggests that events should be organised in such a way that attendees feel connected with the image of the event and what it represents. This could include encouraging cosplay or personalised guild or team t-shirts, which the research participants said helped their sense of belonging and comfort at events.

Professor Taheri

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Gamers want more chances to connect with star players and developers at physical esports events

Published on 7 April 2022
  • Category: Press office; Research; Nottingham Business School

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