Gamers are looking for more chances to connect in-person with each other and their favorite players and developers, according to a new study which questioned players on their event experiences.
Specifically, League of Legends (LoL) fans in Europe want more smaller, local esports events to attend, as they felt ‘too many’ of these type of events were currently held in the US.
Professor Babak Taheri from the Marketing and Consumer Studies Research Center at Nottingham Business School (NBS)/Nottingham Trent University surveyed 549 League of Legends spectators on Reddit (764 started the survey but 549 completed it) toward the end of the 2020 Summer Splits.
The Professor also interviewed 13 World of Warcraft 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 .
The report stated that fandom is an important social experience for fans, with them traveling to live events in order to cheer for their favorite team and players, as well as 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 among the research participants. This suggests that organizers 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 ‘idolized’ within the community so that attendees have the chance to meet these celebrities of the gaming world.
Esports News UK has seen the report in full, and it goes into further detail. It seems to be more of a qualitative survey.
Additional recommendations 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 about 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 organization 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.
Professor Taheri said: “The consistent message of a sense of belonging and feeling connected among those questioned in the study suggests that events should be organized in such a way that attendees feel connected with the image of the event and what it represents. This could encourage cosplay or personalized guild or team T-shirts, which the research participants said helped their sense of belonging and comfort at events.”
The news comes as Fnatic announced a members-only viewing party in London this weekend.
Earlier this year, Isle of Man esports organization X7 held an event for fans to attend and meet players at the University of Roehampton.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.