Exploring E-Sports and the Growing Digital Spectatorship
By Dominic Bierwisch '18
E-Sports are a rapidly expanding form of gaming-based entertainment, with over 134 million people reporting watching E-Sports in 2015. Dom Bierwisch, a Junior Chemistry major at Arcadia, decided to turn his love of video games and appreciation of the benefits of E-Sports into an Honors project that investigated the drivers of this growing digital spectatorship.
With help from Dr. Robbins of the psychology department, Dom presented his Honors project at the SEPCHE Honors Conference, the Exhibition of Academic Success and the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Conference. At the NCHC, Dom was given the opportunity to share his passion for E-Sports with the attendees. One of those attendees happened to be Dr. Joey Gawrysiak of Shenandoah University. Professor Gawrysiak works within the E-Sports industry and was so impressed with Dom’s work that he invited him to speak at the Music and Gaming Educational Symposium (MAGES) in Maryland in January. This annual festival is attended by thousands of people interested in discussing advancements in music and gaming.
Dom was asked to speak on a specialty E-Sports panel that conducted an open discussion of the current state of the E-sports industry and to clarify aspects of the E-Sports world for the audience. Of the experience, Dom said it was amazing to be included on a panel with “people that have made real impacts in the E-Sports community”, many of whom have worked behind the scenes of E-Sports for years. What struck Dom the most about the discussion was just how far video games have come within the worlds of business and pop culture.
To Dom, E-Sports are much like other sports except that they have the benefits of any-time, unlimited availability. As he says, “at any moment, there are matches going on around the world that can be watched online, and you can always watch your favourite games”. Spectators from every country can come together to interact and be entertained.
The panel experience has sparked Dom’s interest in taking his Honors project further and perhaps “becoming more involved in the E-Sports realm as an advocate for the benefits of E-Sports”. He says that he wants to be in a position where he can “disillusion people of the stereotype of video games and professional gamers”. Dom’s Honors project has opened the door to ongoing opportunities to give presentations and to interact with the E-Sports community. His work has provided a platform from which he can continue to participate actively within the evolution of an industry that he has real passion for.