IJESPORTS takes an academic look at competitive gaming

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As far as editorial boards go, IJESPORTS boasts an impressive one. The list includes academics from the United States, the U.K., China, Sweden, Germany, and elsewhere. They include experts in fields ranging from osteopathic medicine and psychology to computer science and marketing.

What they have in common, however, is an interest in esports as a subject of rigorous research. Aaron Koshy is the Chief Editor of IJESPORTS (a.k.a. the International Journal of Esports). He is also an academic cardiologist at the University of Leeds.

In a recent interview with eCentralSports, Koshy acknowledged that a number of other academic journals have published esports research. These journals don’t specialize in the topic, however. Because of that, they often compel researchers to include long-winded explanations of what “esports” means.

Nor is that the only issue, according to Koshy.

“When it comes to the critical part, which is the peer review—on the back end that no one else sees—the esports side of the research generally seems to get a free pass” he says. “That’s because the peer reviewers won’t necessarily be experts on the esports side.”

Setting a low bar

In other words, they often lack the knowledge required to hold the work up to the scrutiny it deserves. As a result, these journals tend to set a low bar where esports research is concerned.

“When I was reading lots of these articles, it was quite frustrating, because it was a world away from general research—and most certainly from medical-based research,” Koshy says. “There was clearly a lot of research going on, very disseminated across the world, but in general the quality was much poorer than it should be. So to me that was a clear sign that there was a need for a journal focusing on esports research. It’s happening—increasingly more so every year—so there should be a place for this.”

That place is IJESPORTS. Its “editorial launch statement” describes it as “an open access double blinded peer reviewed academic journal which takes a high-quality approach to esports research”.

Unique selling point

“Because our unique selling point is quality, we can’t compromise on academic rigour,” Koshy tells eCentralSports. “Otherwise we contradict ourselves. So it will be of an academic standard. And thus we are aiming to make sure that academics involved in esports find the publications of interest. But it is also equally important that people from the industry itself—esports players, esports teams—find it interesting, because that’s how they apply the knowledge.”

The journal released its first edition online in September. It includes articles on such subjects as the potential of physiological monitoring technologies in esports and the true market size of the industry. Indeed, Koshy says he hopes to publish work touching on the widest conceivable range of topics.

“We, as currently the only journal focusing on esports research, are interested in receiving submissions from across the board,” he notes. “So, every single discipline. And I do mean that, because it does seem that every discipline known to man has some sort of connection to esports.”

The next generation

Koshy says IJESPORTS is developing an industry board. This, he says, will consist of advisers whose work spans areas including performance, coaching, governance, and game publishing.

What’s more, the journal intends to reach out to the next generation of esports researchers.

“We are going to be offering more opportunities to students as well. There are a lot of students who are interested in esports, and they’re struggling to find opportunities to stand out,” Koshy says. “And we think academia is one that isn’t talked about enough. So we’re in the process of organizing essay competitions and project awards with our industry partners so that we can really offer more opportunities to students across the world.”

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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