Beyond Sports vs. Games workshop

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Date: Friday, 17 February 2012, 9.30 - 17.30

Place: The course takes place at the IT University of Copenhagen, Rued Langgaardsvej 7, Copenhagen, Denmark. It is hosted by the Center for Computer Games Research .

Contact: T.L. Taylor, IT University of Copenhagen (

Organizers: T.L. Taylor, Emma Witkowski, Miguel Sicart, and Douglas Wilson of the IT University of Copenhagen.


Ten years of game studies have passed with little exploration of sports as a key link in the study of computer gaming. Despite the huge popularity of sports titles, the growth of e-sports, or the general adoption of “sporting attitudes” and practices, not much work has been done to unpack the nature of computer game play as sport. Conversely, forty years of sports studies have produced only limited consideration of the practices and research taking place on digital playing fields. The time is long overdue for these research fields to mingle. With computer games as a central focus point, this one-day workshop looks to embrace interdisciplinary perspectives on sports and computer games, prompting a richer conversation about the nature of digital play by bringing to the foreground a sports orientation.

This workshop will be of particular interest to researchers working in sports and/or game studies. We welcome an interdisciplinary mix. Drawing from a variety of perspectives including (but not limited to) game studies, game design research, game history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, leisure studies, and sports studies, workshop participants will present original research on the subject. Topics can range from empirical studies to theoretical or conceptual work that uses sports as a new interpretive frame for digital play. Examples include (but are not limited to):

• Sports video games and athletic simulation

• Sportspersonship and digital games

• E-sports

• Designing for digital sports

• Play as sporting performance, expertise, and virtuoso play

• Sporting outsiders, alternatives, and rebels

• Fantasy sports & gameplay

• Amateurism & professionalism

• Computer games as lifestyle sports

• Coaching, leading, and mentoring teams

• Spectatorship, audience, and digital sports

• Fandom

• Sporting fields of play: stadiums, servers, and desktops

• Digital sporting equipment and gaming technologies

• Physicality and embodiment in games

• Rules and regulations of play

• Computation and sports

• Sports ethics and digital games

• Relationship between digital games and traditional athleticism/sports

Format: The workshop will consist of presentation of participant research, feedback on it, and themed discussion sessions. Each participant will also be assigned two participant’s abstracts to give focused feedback on. This format offers rigorous consideration of each participants ideas and works to set-up some central issues to be followed as a group in the discussion. The organizers will also provide a few texts for everyone to read in advance (in addition to the abstracts) to provide some shared overview/context.

Deadline and Participation:

Workshop submission is now closed. The following participants have been accepted:

  • Ian Bogost, untitled
  • Miguel Sicart, “The Impossibility of Being Messi, or why FIFA fails at simulating soccer, and yet it’s an excellent game”
  • Olli Sotamaa, “Mundane fantasies: Play, skill and fandom in fantasy football”
  • Abe Stein, “Sports Videogames as Postmodern Historiography”
  • Mia Consalvo, “Social Network Sports Games: Madden Lite?”
  • Chris Paul, “Playing Sports Online: It’s in the game?”
  • Jaakko Stenros, “The role of status function in rule determination in digital games and professional sports”
  • David Leonard, “EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp: Transforming the ‘Average Joe’ to all-powerful Deion”
  • Emma Witkowski, “Eventful Masculinities: Negotiations of hegemonic sporting masculinities at LANs”
  • Ren Reynolds, “Sports Law and Digital Play”
  • T.L. Taylor, “Battles on the field: Institutional governance in e-sports”
  • Daniel Pargman, “Programming competitions as (e-)sports”
  • Doug Wilson, “Disentangling Personal Style from Artistic ‘Expression’: Hokra, Nidhogg, Pole Riders, and the Indie Arcade”

Due to the nature of the event as a working session it is closed to those not presenting and it will not be recorded. If you are interested in particular presentations we recommend contacting the author directly regarding their work. A listing of shared readings (collectively generated by the participants) will, however, be listed here mid-January.

Cost: Participation in the workshop is free. However, participants are responsible for covering their own meals, transportation, and accommodation.

Accommodation and Transportation:

Practical information regarding accommodation and transportation can be found here.