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Esports and Learning: Using grounded theory to explore the learning and mastering processes of players with Joseph Michael Hesketh

Esports is a rapidly growing billion dollar industry that attracts millions of new viewers every year [1]. Each viewer is a new potential player which will not only face the hurdles of learning how to play a game, but also face the difficulty of becoming a part of and belonging to that community [2].
Whilst using games for learning (i.e. serious games) and understanding how games facilitate external learning is an incredibly active field of research [3], it is difficult to find much literature around how players learn to play the games. Research that looks at how players learn to play games either detail what current games do to help learning [4, 5] or apply existing theories of learning to games and test whether players improved [6, 7, 8]. I decided to go from a bottom-up approach to understanding learning in Esport games by interviewing players about their learning processes. Using grounded theory, I interviewed 11 players (as of 02/07/2019) of varying skill levels who primarily played Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 about their learning processes at all stages of play. I will also be interviewing people whilst they play to see and ask about processes players undergo during play that they may not be aware of. The following talk will, firstly, introduce the current research around learning and communities of interest. From there, I will report our findings from our study, including details on common activities players participate in to improve. Finally, I will then discuss some of the challenges and frustrations currently faced by players and how I hope to approach them, as well as potential avenues for improvement for researchers to look at and designers to work with.

References
[1] Newzoo (2019). 2019 Global esports market report: An overview of the esports market & its valuable audience. Retrieved from https://newzoo.com/insights/trend-reports/newzoo-global-esports-market-report-2019-light-version/, accessed June 2019.
[2] Tardini, S., & Cantoni, L. (2005). A Semiotic Approach to Online Communities-Belonging, Interest, and Identity in Websites’ and Videogames’ Communities. Proceedings of the IADIS International Conference, (March), 371–378. Retrieved from https://ssl.lu.usi.ch/entityws/Allegati/pdf_pub2044.pdf
[3] Whitton, N. (2014). Digital Games and Learning. New York: Routledge, https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203095935
[4] Therrien, C. (2011). “To get help, please press X” the rise of the assistance paradigm in video game design. 5th International Conference on Digital Research Association: Think Design Play, DiGRA 2011. Retrieved from http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84873347794&partnerID=40&md5=ff3d65627e3c57a5a2d0b0c909d8b328
[5] White, M. M. (2014). Learn to play: Designing tutorialsfor video games(Illustrate). CRC Press, 2014.
[6] Moirn, R., Léger, P.-M., Senecal, S., Roberge, M.-C. B., Lefebvre, M., & Fredette, M. (2016). The effect of game tutorial: A comparison between casual and hardcore gamers. CHI PLAY 2016 - Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play Companion, 229–237. https://doi.org/10.1145/2968120.2987730
[7] Shannon, A., Boyce, A., Gadwal, C., & Barnes, T. (2013). Effective Practices in Game Tutorial Systems. FDG’13, 338–345. Aytemiz, B., Karth, I., Harder, J., Smith, A. M., & Whitehead, J. (2018). Talin: A Framework for Dynamic Tutorials Based on the Skill Atoms Theory. In Fourteenth Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference.
[8] Aytemiz, B., Karth, I., Harder, J., Smith, A. M., & Whitehead, J. (2018). Talin: A Framework for Dynamic Tutorials Based on the Skill Atoms Theory. In Fourteenth Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference.

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