How can we describe the bodily experience of playing esports? #PHILOSOPHY


Ekdahl, D., & Ravn, S. (2019). Embodied involvement in virtual worlds: the case of eSports practitioners. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 13(2), 132-144.


eSports practice designates a unique set of activities tethered to competitive, virtual environments, or worlds. This correlation between eSports practitioner and virtual world, we argue, is inadequately accounted for solely in terms of something physical or intellectual. Instead, we favor a perspective on eSports practice to be analyzed as a perceptual and embodied phenomenon. In this article, we present the phenomenological approach and focus on the embodied sensations of eSports practitioners as they cope with and perceive within their virtual worlds. By approaching eSports phenomenologically, we uncover ways in which its unique forms of virtual involvement overlap with as well as differentiate themselves from traditional structures of embodiment.

The Data

Not applicable.


“the eSports practitioner learning to cope in a virtual world needs to perceptually learn to make sense of this world; to see it in a particular way and become embedded in it. The eSports practitioner must lose some indeterminate part of his or her sense of being in front of a monitor, peering into a digital world, instead allowing his or her body subject to become enveloped by a new and unique world of virtual comportment with its own sensory structures.” (p137)

“the competitive environment of eSports practice is characterized by a constant drive for discovering virtual Fosbury Flops: the talented eSports practitioner must always stay within the limitations of a game world while at the same time trying to transcend them by developing new techniques.” (p137)

“From the perspective of embodied involvement, eSports distinguishes itself by its wide and varied array of different kinesthetic systems.” (p140)

“eSports practice ought to be considered as a form of practice beyond something solely intellectual and/or physical, favoring instead an account of eSports practice as something that encompasses unique forms of embodied tethered to virtual worlds.” (p141)

Our Take on it

“How can we describe the bodily experience of playing esport? It isn’t enough to say it is both intellectual and physical. These authors attempt to give a phenomenological account of esports to describe the sensory experience between the human player and the virtual world. It shows how the boundary between the ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ body is not as categorical as might be thought.” Dr Emily Ryall

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