Thursday, February 25, 2016

Policing Behavior in Esports

This is officially sanctioned anger!!!
My latest PopMatters article is all about shit you shouldn't do if you're an esports athlete.

Sort of.

There are actually several fines I don't discuss that I find especially interesting and/or hilarious. For example, the penalty index for League of Legends includes a punishment for removing your headphones before a game is over. It makes sense of course. Most of these games take place on stage in front of a huge crowd. If a professional player can hear the crowd, they may gain information about the match they wouldn't otherwise know. Still, I like the idea of a player taking off their headphones out of frustration or celebration and getting slapped with a fine.

There are also penalties for things that remind us all how much money is involved in esports. Accordingly, all players must follow strict uniform guidelines. Unfortunately I don't know what those exact guidelines are, but I imagine is contains limitations on the size and placements of sponsor logos. Or maybe Riot just wants to make sure these players are wearing breathable material.

Likewise, there's a ban against broadcasting a logo that wasn't prior approved. Their example is you're not allowed to put on a hat immediately after a match. I think the assumption here is that a winning team member, in a blatant attempt at shirking the uniform guidelines, puts on a Budweiser baseball cap and pantomimes a chugging gesture while winking at the camera.

There are all silly hypotheticals of course, but the strangeness of behavioral policing remains. The culture of professional esports feeds into and from gaming culture at large, and even sports culture generally.

The rules we establish, and the rules we don't, can tell us a lot about the culture around us.

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