Esports Content Production (Interactive Media) - TFT00052H

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  • Department: Theatre, Film and Television
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Florian Block
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19

Module summary

Esports – video games that are played competitively, watched by large audiences – are a rapidly growing form of mainstream entertainment that lie at the convergence of TV, interactive media and digital games. In this module, you will acquire both a systematic theoretical understanding of the ecosystem of content creation in esports as well as hands-on, practical experience in executing an esports production, combining techniques from across Film and TV Production and Interactive Media. You will learn to understand the esports industry, including its historic roots, the socio-cultural influences and technological developments that paved the way for its rise, as well as acquire knowledge about state-of-the art industry practice borrowed from traditional TV broadcast, interactive media and game design that drives current production practice in esports. You will learn how your existing skills are situated within esports content production, and work in a multi-disciplinary team consisting of students from Film and TV Production as well as Interactive Media to plan and produce a live esports event. Taking advantage of the University of York’s partnership with ESL, the world’s biggest esports company, this module will create interfaces for students to directly engage with industry leaders in esports through a series of guest lectures.

Module occurrences

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2018-19

Module aims

  • To provide a systematic overview of the esports industry and its associated ecosystem of content creation and consumption
  • To provide an introduction to current best practices in esports content creation and consumption, with emphasis on the mixing “real-world” material captured in a studio (e.g. panels, commentary) and elements from the game’s virtual environment virtual world (e.g. the game’s action) to tell coherent and engaging stories to mainstream audiences
  • To give students practical experience in producing esports and to critically reflect on how innovative techniques and technologies from Interactive Media and / or Film and TV Production can be utilised to advance industry practice

Module learning outcomes

  • Gain an understanding of the historic context of esports, including the socio-cultural developments and technological advances that led to the rise of competitive video games
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically reflect on online ecosystems of content creation and consumption, taking into account evolving audience demand and industry needs, as well as the role of emergent technologies
  • Develop a systematic understanding of how the student’s knowledge and existing skills from Film and TV Production / Interactive Media contribute to esports, and how the application of these may differ from other areas, such as sports broadcast or non-competitive digital games.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how techniques across Film and TV Production as well as Interactive Media are combined to tell engaging and meaningful stories about professional esports matches
  • Understand and critically reflect on current industry practice and explore the use of new techniques and technologies in the production of esports

Module content

To achieve the stated learning outcomes, the main aim of this module is to meaningfully interweave theory and practice. Theory will be delivered through lectures, with the aim of some of the lectures being co-taught by staff and industry guests. Suggested topics for the lectures are as follows:

  • From local game arcades to global mainstream – a historical perspective of esports
  • A posterchild of media convergence: situating esports within TV, sports broadcast, interactive media and digital games
  • Streaming and online video-on-demand culture in esports
  • Where does the money come from? Business models in esports content production
  • Current practices and technologies in esports productions
  • From bits to content: data-driven content production in esports
  • Towards interactive, social viewing: emergent technologies in esports content production
  • Current challenges and future opportunities

The lectures are complemented with seminars and practicals, which are designed to create a stimulating theoretical and practical dialogue between students from across FTP and IM. Bi-weekly seminars provide a forum for inter-disciplinary discussion of lectures and reading materials. In the seminars, we will confront the critical lenses of both programmes, examining the lecture’s topics further. In preparation for the seminars, students will read inter-disciplinary literature, observe and analyse various production across esports and traditional sports, as well as reflect on relevant material from online services such as Twitch and Youtube.

Theoretical material discussed in lectures and seminars will be complemented by a practical components. Practicals are run in a bi-weekly fashion, interweaving with the seminars. Practicals offer students of each programme to explore familiar and unfamiliar settings – allowing FTP students to venture into the capturing virtual game environments, and in return, allowing IM students to acquire a basic understanding of studio technology. This provides an opportunity for the students both venture into new territory outside their field of study, while, within their familiar setting, contextualising their existing practical skills to the requirements of an esports production. Starting from W6, students will then utilise the practicals and seminars to plan and prepare for a jointly executed esports production. Based on this planning, as well as theoretical and practical knowledge acquired through W2 – W9, students will then co-produce an esports broadcast in Week 10, which is the basis for assessment.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
1500 word essay
N/A 70
Practical
Practical Assessment (group)
8 hours 30

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Drawing on preparation in the practicals, the contents of the lectures as well as the discussions in seminars, students of both programmes will work in a team to execute an esports production in Week 10, Autumn term. For students of both programmes, the assessment is broken down into two parts, a practical assessment and a written assessment.

The practical assessment is based on a tournament production, in which a series of matches are covered. Each segment consists of a pre-game panel, the actual match coverage and a post-game panel. This tournament schedule segments the day into several slots with identical structure of coverage. This segmentation allows for crews to rotate, enable the IM students to execute at least one A-role in the production. During each segment, the students who are not fulfilling a A-role, will execute a B-role (commentator, camera, etc.). The following table provides an overview about the roles (* = A-role):

  • Director*
  • Vision Mixer*
  • PA*
  • Sound*
  • Graphics*
  • Camera
  • Stage Manager
  • Commentator
  • Panellist
  • Data Analyst*
  • Spotter*
  • Player
  • Referee

The group assessment will focus on how the team combined in-game footage, panel elements, graphical overlays and commentary to tell a coherent, engaging and informative story to the audience. Professionalism and communication of respective crew members will also be key drivers for the group assessments. Coordinating in-game camera work, commentary, visual overlays to capture the most important aspects of the game while not overpowering the viewer with too much information will be a criticalbalance the team needs to strike. The underlying criteria for a successful esports production will be extensively practiced and discussed across seminars and practicals.

The essay is a critical reflection of the role of interactive media in esports content production. This essay is due in Week 10, capturing and informing the tournament planning. The students will cover historic aspects of esports, discuss how their existing, programme-specific knowledge is situated within esports, and reflect on the integration of elements across TV production and Interactive Media. Students are encouraged to use the planning of the tournament as an exemplar for their theoretical considerations. Lastly, students will reflect on how novel techniques and technologies from IM may advance content production in esports.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
1500 word essay
N/A 70
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Presentation & Viva
1 hours 30

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback by the standard university deadline.

Indicative reading

Taylor, T. L (2012). Raising the Stakes: E-sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming. MIT Press, ISBN: 9780262527583.

Hamari, J., Sjöblom, M. (2017). What is eSports and why do people watch it? Internet research, 27(2), 211-232.

Schultz, R (2017). Secrets of Sports Broadcasting: Practical Advice for Sportscasting Success. Independently published, ISBN-13: 978-1973166016.

Zarrabi, S. A., & Jerkrot, H. N (2016). Value creation and appropriation in the esports industry. Department of Technology Management and Economics Division of Innovation Engineering and Management, CHALMERS UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, Gothenburg, Sweden. Report No. E 2016:090 (Available at: http://publications.lib.chalmers.se/records/fulltext/238371/238371.pdf)

Mokrusch, M. (2017). A Critical Look at the Ecosystem. Esports Observer. (Available at: https://esportsobserver.com/a-critical-look-at-the-ecosystem-part-1/, https://esportsobserver.com/a-critical-look-at-the-ecosystem-part-2/)

Benjamin Burroughs & Adam Rugg (2014) Extending the Broadcast: Streaming Culture and the Problems of Digital Geographies, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 58:3, 365-380

Klein-Shagri, O. (2017). Para-Interactivity and the Appeal of Television in the Digital Age, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN: 978-1498540803.

Davis, D. (1960). The grammar of television production. Barrie and Rockliff, ASIN: B0000CKGWE.

Singleton-Turner, R. (2011). Cue & cut : a practical approach to working in multi-camera studios. Manchester University Press, 1 edition, ISBN: 9780719084485.

Schubert, M., Drachen, A., & Mahlmann, T. (2016). Esports Analytics Through Encounter Detection Other Sports. Proceedings of MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. (Available at: http://www.sloansportsconference.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/1458.pdf)

Syed, M. (2011). Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice. Fourth Estate (GB), ISBN: 978-0007350544.



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