Esport: Professional League of Legends as Cultural History
Howard, Matthew Jungsuk
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This thesis offers a preliminary cultural-historical investigation of professional League of Legends using Tygielian sport history methodology. League’s massive popularity brought esports greater visibility, and laid bare cultural-historical currents that explain the current historical moment. The game’s global nature, enabled by Web 2.0’s globalizing effects and breakneck speed, makes it a powerful lens for cultural-historical analysis. First, League confirmed South Korea’s status as the center of the esport world, and the state of the game reflects certain Korean cultural and economic cultural currents. Second, League’s pros go by usernames that they choose. These names follow naming traditions that are established across esports through gaming subculture, enabling the mapping of cultural connections through their cultural weight. Thirdly, League sheds light on the roots of sexism in geek and gaming culture, which manifests in the form of assumptions about women’s roles and abilities in-game. Finally, League’s community illustrates the problem of censorship that Web 2.0’s convenient distribution platforms and sharing culture have created. Community centralization has made it easy for journalism and content creation to be compromised by corporate interest and community hostility.