Rated E: For Everyone?

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In Competitive Video Game Play: An Investigation of Identification and Competition by Robert P. Griffiths, Matthew S. Eastin and Vincent Cicchirillo, the authors highlight how passive and active sports consumption, such as video games, allows sports fans to identify with their favorite sports teams. Sports games are the second highest selling genre of video games, next to the action games genre. Griffiths et., al. define identification as a “mechanism through which audience members experience reception and interpretation of the text from the inside, as if the events were happening to them”, meaning identification is a motivation for and an outcome from media exposure.

There were three conditions total being looked at in this study. The first condition is the saliency of the match, how much is at stake. The second condition was team identification and the third condition was competitive outcome. What was found in this research was that competition is related to hostility and the enjoyment of playing sports video games.

Understanding who the gamer is playing as or against influences affective outcomes. As a sports video gamer on occasion, it was very eye-opening to be agreeing with the study done by Griffiths, Eastin and Cicchirillo. crunn 52 makes a good point when comparing this study to politics. “It seems that competition between the Democrats and Republicans grow more and more exaggerated each and every year… Why might that be? For one there is a major issue with identification in the States. For the most part, citizens identify as Democratic or Republican and that’s it. It doesn’t matter who the leader of their party is for the presidential campaign is, whichever party one identifies with, that’s who they vote for, in part due to their views aligning more with that candidate, and in part because they don’t want the opposing party in power.”

With the rise of e-sports around the world, this paper is very relevant today. Millions of people all over the globe participate in sports video game tournaments, competing for a grand prize of thousands of dollars (while action video game tournaments reach the millions). The target audience for this research are the gamers, specifically those that prefer sports video games over action. This study provides a glimpse into the affective reactions to competitive situations that are continually built upon, stored and strengthened over time. Since video games afford general learning behaviour, reactions experienced during gaming transcend into fan behavior, and general personality traits triggered by competitive events.



  1. Your post is very well thought out, and I really enjoyed how you brought in ideas from the political papers we have read to link with ideas of identification in competitive atmospheres.
    I am kinda confused about your comment about esports towards the end of the post. Do you think that identification and investment with the team drive the affective responses of the people competing, or does it have more to do with the atmosphere of a legitimate competition with cash prizes and reputation on the line? Do you think there’s a correlation between the two?


  2. Thank you for your post. It was very interesting learning more about how sustained continuation of sport games can parallel political affiliation. Do you find that as a gamer, it is more difficult for you to change characters/sport teams? Do Americans believe strongly in Blue Vs Red because they have been conditioned to sort themselves in to these two teams, and some how get caught in their continued support of their respective team?


  3. Overall, your reading response was very straightforward and easy to understand! Providing a summary of Griffiths et al. was a nice segue into connecting competition in gaming to competition in the political sphere. You made an insightful observation of how American politics is divided into a binary (Democrat/Republican) and this is interesting to see such dichotomous competition is evident in sports video games. Do you see any personal arguments you could add to this connection between video games and politics? I think that would be an interesting topic to explore.


  4. To zschaab: Thank you for your kind comments. To answer your first question, I think it has to do more with the competitive setting of different e-sports tournaments. Different individuals competing for reputation and cash prizes put a lot more meaning into their games, for sure.

    To salimsalimoff7648: Thank you Salim. As a gamer, it was harder for me at a young age for sure as I would always be picking my favourite team. However these days, I’m cool with any team/character. To answer your second question, I believe there is a strong belief between the Red vs Blue debate, and that people will get caught up and forget what the point of the divide is in the first place.

    To dankim17: Thank you for your response. Personally, I don’t have any arguments to add to the connection between video games and politics. I do agree that it would be an interesting topic to explore, perhaps for a future blog post.


  5. Hi, thanks for your response. This was an interesting read. I appreciate the comparison with hostility in video game competition with the political atmosphere in the U.S. It seems though the focus on identity being influenced by media between two very broad categories: republican and democrat. Do you believe that video game competitive outcome results are closely linked to the increase in hostility in politics if one team was losing more than the other?


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