Raising the Stakes

Raising the Stakes T. L. TaylorMIT Press, 2012

Raising the Stakes

T. L. Taylor
MIT Press, 2012

For sale at MIT Press.

Competitive video and computer game play is nothing new: the documentary King of Kong memorably portrays a Donkey Kong player’s attempts to achieve the all-time highest score; the television show Starcade (1982–1984) featured competitions among arcade game players; and first-person shooter games of the 1990s became multiplayer through network play. A new development in the world of digital gaming, however, is the emergence of professional computer game play, complete with star players, team owners, tournaments, sponsorships, and spectators. In Raising the Stakes, T. L. Taylor explores the emerging scene of professional computer gaming and the accompanying efforts to make a sport out of this form of play.

In the course of her explorations, Taylor travels to tournaments, including the World Cyber Games Grand Finals (which considers itself the computer gaming equivalent of the Olympics), and interviews participants from players to broadcasters. She examines pro-gaming, with its highly paid players, play-by-play broadcasts, and mass audience; discusses whether or not e-sports should even be considered sports; traces the player’s path from amateur to professional (and how a hobby becomes work); and describes the importance of leagues, teams, owners, organizers, referees, sponsors, and fans in shaping the structure and culture of pro-gaming.

Taylor connects professional computer gaming to broader issues: our notions of play, work, and sport; the nature of spectatorship; the influence of money on sports. And she examines the ongoing struggle over the gendered construction of play through the lens of male-dominated pro-gaming. Ultimately, the evolution of professional computer gaming illuminates the contemporary struggle to convert playful passions into serious play.

T.L. Taylor

About T.L. Taylor

T.L. Taylor is Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT and co-founder and Director of Research for AnyKey, an organization dedicated to supporting and developing fair and inclusive esports. She is a qualitative sociologist who has focused on internet and game studies for over two decades. Dr. Taylor’s research explores the interrelations between culture and technology in online leisure environments. Her book about game live streaming, Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Live Streaming (Princeton University Press, 2018), is the first of its kind to chronicle the emerging media space of online game broadcasting and won the American Sociological Association’s CITAMS book award. She is also the author of Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (MIT Press, 2012) which explores the rise of esports and Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press, 2006), an ethnography of the massively multiplayer online game EverQuest. In 2012 Princeton University published her co-authored book on conducting ethnographic research in online multi-user worlds, Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method. Dr. Taylor is a highly sought after speaker. Both the White House and the International Olympics Committee have invited her to special summits focused on gaming. And journalists for the New York Times, PBS, the Los Angeles Times, BBC, CBC, and many others often reach out to Dr. Taylor for her expertise. She also currently serves as a member of Twitch’s Safety Advisory Council, Riot’s Scholastic Association of America Board of Advisors, and the editorial boards of Social Media & Society, Games and Culture, American Journal of Play, and ROMChip. For more information about Dr. Taylor visit tltaylor.com.

 
 

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