Seminars

NO.185 The Science of Esports: Technology Improving Human Performance

Shonan Village Center

February 7 - 10, 2022 (Check-in: February 6, 2022 )

Organizers

  • Benjamin Watson

    • North Carolina State University, USA
  • Joohwan Kim

    • Nvidia, USA
  • Takashi Shibata

    • Tokyo University of Social Welfare, Japan

Overview

Description

Esports is a growing worldwide phenomenon now rivaling traditional sports, with over 450 million views and 1 billion US dollars in revenue each year. For comparison, Major League Baseball has 500 million views and $10 billion in revenue, FIFA Soccer 900 million and $1.6 billion. Despite this significant popularity, much of the world remains unaware of esports — and in particular, researchers have largely ignored it. This is an alarming oversight given esports’ impact and potential.

This meeting will begin addressing that oversight. In esports, athletes using technology maximize team performance. The premise of this Shonan meeting is that people will apply esports technology broadly, improving performance in a wide range of human activity. The meeting will gather experts in engineering, psychology, design and the social and health sciences to consider this deeply multidisciplinary possibility.

Topics

Our meeting will be shaped by its participants, with sessions designed to elicit, gather and consolidate themes from contributors. But here are a few themes that we expect will interest attendees.

Esports technology supports peak performance. For example, to improve latency (response time), athletes turn off visual gaming features like shadows, reflections, and antialiasing (edge smoothing). A wide range of applications including drone control, training and simulation, telemedicine, analytics and even collaborative coding and design could benefit from emerging esports technologies and lessons supporting experts. These include task-salient visuals and overlays; the surprising importance of low latency feedback; new and vertically integrated systems to reduce latency; and training methods, tools, analytics and bots.

Esports technology also supports rich, remote team communication and collaboration, which are core elements of its events. Heads-up team displays and communication systems like Discord and Twitch have already gained attention from the broader tech community. As the pandemic continues and its effects spread through society, such tested technologies, techniques and experience will prove invaluable.

Finally, esports technology helps educate large audiences about its complex gaming systems, and enables sustainable online communities around those systems. Organizers and fans face many challenges in making use of these technologies and communities, including not only learning but also diversity, addiction, cheating and civility. As the pandemic moves education online, teachers and students face many of these same challenges, and will learn much from esports successes and failures.

Program

Our meeting will move through five stages, designed to identify important avenues of esports research and application, and potential methods and techniques for exploring them:

Elicitation (day1 morning): We will invite several participants to present 15 minutes talks, seeking a representative diversity of perspectives across discipline, region and gender.

Collection (day1 afternoon): With the organizers facilitating, individual participants will write down the societally relevant esports challenges and opportunities that they would like to discuss. They will then focus on a few of these, explaining them briefly on a sticky note with a title and a few sentences. They will then deliver these to the organizers, who will organize these into preliminary topic clusters.

Selection (day 2 morning): The organizers will present the preliminary topics to participants, discuss and clarify them, then revise them if a significant portion of participants desires. Participants will then cast votes to indicate which of these topic clusters they would like to discuss further.

Exploration (day 2 afternoon & day 3): On the afternoon of the second day, participants will break out into several groups, each discussing one topic cluster. One participant in each cluster will take notes. On the third day, all participants will gather to listen to summaries of each group’s discussion. They will then vote to decide which topics merit further discussion, break out to discuss the topics, and reconvene to listen to final group reports.

Dissemination (day 4): On the final day, group members will gather to collaboratively draft reports from each exploration group, which the organizers will then organize into a final report.

Related Previous Workshops and Seminars

Only a few prior meetings and workshops have addressed the research challenges of esports:

* The Science of Gaming Summit (https://klutch.gg/summit/): This event was predominantly focused on esports industry needs, especially health and training. It drew industry experts and health researchers.

* The UCI Esports Conference (https://esc2019.uciesc.org/): This event is in its second year. It focuses on esports programs at universities, drawing primarily social science researchers.

Our meeting will differ from these by gathering a multidisciplinary range of researchers to study the potential of esports technology to improve performance in a wide range of human activity.

Expected Outcomes

At a minimum, we will write a report summarizing the outcomes of our meeting, including relevant theories, open challenges, promising approaches, and a research agenda. We plan to publish versions of this report in engineering, science and industry venues such as ACM Transactions on Graphics, Human Factors and the Esports Observer. The meeting’s results will also inform us as we organize a new workshop or symposium in which researchers may publish their results.