Building Sustainable Esports Teams

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Introduction

Esports teams are in crisis, struggling with a range of issues, including player and staff burnout, financial instability, brand and reputation mismanagement, poor talent acquisition and retention, inefficiencies in team communication and organisation, and a lack of diversity and equality within esports organisations. This special issue of Team Performance Management is directed toward constructing an in-depth understanding of how to build sustainable esports teams. The principal objective is to invite articles that unravel the multifaceted and multidisciplinary aspects of managing esports teams with a view to foster longevity and success in highly competitive environments. Through this lens, this special issue encourages researchers to explore pioneering strategies, management paradigms, and governance structures that are vital for sustainability in esports. This exploration extends to the examination of the welfare of players and staff, sustainable business and governance models, positive and effective team dynamics, and policies that foster diversity and ensure inclusive and equitable team environments for esports players.

There are a range of specialisms, themes and challenges emerging around esports, from research in the business, management and law aspects of the industry (Scholz, 2019; Windholz, 2020) to concerns around player health, performance and psychology (Behnke et al. 2022; Pedraza-Ramirez et al. 2020) to studies about its social and cultural impact (Taylor, 2021). What is lacking is a comprehensive exploration of these elements in the context of team performance management and associated governance structures and management practices. Indeed, esports research is often compartmentalised within specific disciplines (Pizzo, et. al. 2022), thereby lacking cross-disciplinary insight, especially considering the interdisciplinary nature of esports (Brock, 2023). Where existing research provides valuable insights into the evolving dynamics of esports, it falls short of addressing the convergence of elements essential for building sustainable esports teams (Jenny et. al 2017). This special issue seeks to integrate cross-disciplinary expertise from academia, industry, and esports communities to foster a holistic dialogue that brings to the fore new strategies essential for enduring sustainability and team success in esports. It invites esports researchers to contend with the ‘wicked problems’ (Brock, 2023) inherent in the management of esports teams and offer actionable solutions based on enhanced theoretical, methodological and practical knowledge. 

What will emerge from this special issue is an understanding of esports teams as a future laboratory that can generate insight about sustainable ways of working, living and playing together in an increasingly hybrid world. Indeed, this special issue invites papers that address any of the following United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, including: the good health and wellbeing of esports players and staff (Goal 3); advancing academic knowledge and educational resourhttps://www.emerald.com/insight/ces about esports (Goal 4); generating new insights about sustainable and inclusive work environments and economic frameworks (Goal 8); establishing resilient industrial processes within the esports sector (Goal 9); reducing inequality through equal opportunities and diversity and inclusivity in esports (Goal 10); ensure lasting partnerships across the esports ecosystem through collaboration and dialogue (Goal 17). 

List of Topic Areas

  1. Sustainable Governance and Management: Exploring innovative governance structures and (talent) management practices that are crucial for long-term sustainability and success in esports, focusing on organisational resilience (e.g., corporate social responsibility), ethical considerations and strategic planning.
  2. Player and staff wellbeing and health: Investigating holistic approaches to player well-being, including physical and mental health, stress management, work-life balance, to ensure the sustained wellbeing of esports athletes.
  3. Economic sustainability and business models: Delving into sustainable economic models and financial strategies that ensure the economic viability and resilience of esports teams, discussing revenue streams, financial management, and market dynamics.
  4. Team dynamics and social inclusion: Examining the social aspects of esports teams, including team cohesions, diversity, inclusivity, and cultural competence, to foster increasingly harmonious and inclusive team environments.
  5. Community engagement and impact: Assessing the role and impact of esports teams within their communities, analysing community engagement strategies, social responsibility initiatives, and the contribution of esports to local development and cultural exchange. 

Submissions Information

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Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key Deadlines

Closing date for abstract submissions: 29/02/2024    
Email for submissions: [email protected]

Opening date for full manuscripts submissions: 03/06/2024
Closing date for full manuscripts submissions: 30/09/2024    

References

Brock, T. 2023. Ontology and interdisciplinary research in esports. Sports, Ethics and Philosophy, Online First: https://doi.org/10.1080/17511321.2023.2260567     

Behnke, M., M.M. Stefanczyk, G. Żurek, and P. Sorokowski. 2022. Esports players are less extroverted and conscientious than athletes. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 26 (1): 50–56. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2022.0067.

Jenny, S., R. Manning, M. Keiper, and T. Olrich. 2017. Virtual(ly) athletes: Where eSports fit within the definition of ‘sport. Quest 69 (1): 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.2016.1144517.

Pedraza-ramirez, I., L. Musculus, M. Raab, and S. Laborde. 2020. Setting the scientific stage for esports psychology: A systematic review. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology 13 (1): 319–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/1750984X.2020.1723122.

Pizzo, A.D., B.J. Baker, S. Na, M.A. Lee, D. Kim, and D.C. Funk. 2018. eSport vs. Sport: A comparison of spectator motives. Sport Marketing Quarterly 27 (2): 108. https://doi.org/10.32731/SMQ.272.062018.04
Nyström, A.G., B. Mccauley, J. Macey, T. Scholz, N. Bescombes, J. Cestino, and M. Törhönen. 2022. Current issues of sustainability in esports. International Journal of Esports 1 (1).

Scholz, T. 2019. Esports is business. London and New York: Palgrave. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11199-1

Taylor, T.L. 2012. Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the professionalization of computer gaming. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/8624.001.0001.

Windholz, E. 2020. Governing esports: Public policy, Regulation and the Law. Sports Law E-Journal, Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper 3622662 Available at 3 Jan 2023 https://ssrn.com/abstract=3622662