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Usva Friman, Jonne Arjoranta, Jani Kinnunen, Katriina Heljakka & Jaakko Stenros (toim.) Pelit kulttuurina (Vastapaino, 2022)

book review, kirja-arvio, pelit

Tomi Knuutila
Yliopistonlehtori, TaT
Lapin yliopisto

Viittaaminen / How to cite: Knuutila, Tomi. 2022. ”Usva Friman, Jonne Arjoranta, Jani Kinnunen, Katriina Heljakka & Jaakko Stenros (toim.) Pelit kulttuurina (Vastapaino, 2022)”. WiderScreen Ajankohtaista 3.8.2022. http://widerscreen.fi/numerot/ajankohtaista/usva-friman-jonne-arjoranta-jani-kinnunen-katriina-heljakka-jaakko-stenros-toim-pelit-kulttuurina-vastapaino-2022/

Kuva 1. Pelit kulttuurina -kirjan kansi.

Pelit kulttuurina -kirjan syntylähteet löytyvät Suomen Akatemian rahoittaman Pelikulttuurien tutkimuksen huippuyksikön (2018-25) vuoden 2018 yleisöluentosarjasta Pelitutkimus Suomessa 2018. Avoimen luentosarjan luentoja on täydennetty ja muokattu kirjaan eri näkökulmia avaaviksi luvuiksi, ristiinkudottu ja -viitattu, sekä muutamalla kokoavalla luvulla rakennettu yhtenäisemmäksi ja ehjemmäksi kokonaisuudeksi. Kirjan kirjoittajat eli Pelikulttuurien tutkimuksen huippuyksikön tutkijat toimivat Tampereen, Jyväskylän ja Turun yliopistoissa.

Kirja määrittelee olevansa ensimmäinen suomenkielinen tieteellinen teos, joka tarkastelee pelejä, leikkiä ja pelikulttuuria ja siihen liittyviä ilmiöitä laaja-alaisesti osana kulttuuria ja yhteiskuntaa. Yhdyn tähän käsitykseen, mutta on toki itsestäänselvää, että kirja ei ole syntynyt tyhjiöstä. Mukana kirjoittajina on pitkään maailmanlaajuisestikin nykyaikaisen pelitutkimuksen pioneereina pidettäviä henkilöitä — toki myös nuorempaa tutkijapolvea — ja Suomessa ja suomeksikin ilmestyneen tutkimuksen määrä, mihin teoksessa viitataan on valtava, riittäen ohjaamaan lisätutkimuksen äärelle lähes aiheessa kuin aiheessa. Näenkin kirjan lähdeluetteloineen kenen tahansa pelien tutkimuksesta kiinnostuneen opiskelijan Pro gradu– tai väitöstutkimuksen aarreaittana, mutta oletan että kirjalla on yleisempääkin intressiä yhden aikamme suurimmista taide-, media- ja viihdealan ilmiötä kohtaan, jonka historia toisaalta ulottuu kirjoitettua kieltä pidemmälle. Jotenkin hämmentävää onkin, että kyseinen teos on koostettu vasta nyt (toki alan tärkeät kotimaiset teokset kuten esimerkiksi Mariosofia: elektronisten pelien kulttuuri, eri vuosien Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirjat sekä Pelaajabarometrit sekä kotimaisten tutkijoiden lukuisat artikkelit konferensseissa ja ulkomaisissa julkaisuissa nousevat esille), onhan DiGRAn (Digital Games Research Association) perustamiskonferenssistakin Tampereella kohta jo 20 vuotta.

Pelitutkimus on pikkuhiljaa eriytynyt omaksi alakseen lähinnä kirjallisuus-, kulttuuri- ja (uus)mediatieteiden alojen tutkimuksen sisältä, mutta kattaa nykyään moni- ja poikkitieteellisesti lähes minkä tahansa tieteenalan: leikki, pelit ja pelaaminen ovat tutkimuksen kohteena niin taloustieteissä, liikunta- ja urheilutieteissä, kuin lakitieteissä ja kasvatustieteissä, humanistisia tieteitä ja luonnontieteitä unohtamatta. Pelit kulttuurina nostaa pelitutkimuksen perusrungon lisäksi esiin yhtymäkohtia muihin medioihin sekä kulttuurin lajeihin Pelit ja Transmediaalisuus -luvussa (Tanja Välisalo & Raine Koskimaa) sekä ruotii digitaalisten pelien, urheilun ja liikunnan yhtymäkohtia Riikka Turtiaisen luvussa. Kirjan eduksi lasken myös sen, että se myös esittelee ainakin itselleni vähän tuntemattomampiakin näkökulmia, kuten esimerkiksi suomalaisen peliteollisuuden kontekstia ja erikoispiirteitä Olli Sotamaan Pelintekemisen kulttuurit -luvussa sekä pohtii rahan ja pelien suhdetta Jani Kinnusen luvussa. Kirja jättää monipuolisuudestaan huolimatta myös tilaa jatko-osille ja lisätutkimukselle — kaikki mahdollinen ei luonnollisesti yhteen kirjaan mahdu.

Pelit kulttuurina -teoksen fokus on hyvin pitkälle keskittynyt kulttuurin tutkimuksen puolelle — vaikka pelejä ja leikkejä mainitaan ja käytetään esimerkkeinä lähes joka luvussa, kyseessä ei ole yksittäisiä pelejä, peligenrejä, pelien filosofiaa, estetiikkaa, pelien eritysluonnetta tai peli-ilmaisua käsittelevä teos (lukuun ottamatta lähinnä Jaakko Stenrosin Pelit kulttuurina ja taiteena -lukua sekä Jonne Arjorannan Mitä pelit merkitsevät? -loppulukua). Painotus on siis pelin ja leikin laajemmassa kulttuurisessa ja yhteiskunnallisessa vaikutuksessa, tekstien heijastaessa myös mm. aikamme kulttuuripoliittisen keskustelun tematiikkoja. Näistä erityisesti sukupuolen tematiikka nousee esiin lähes täysin läpi kirjan, kun taas esim. amerikkalaisessa pelialan keskustelussa ja tutkimuksessakin esille nouseviin tematiikkoihin pelialan työnteon epäkohdista ei kirjassa juuri puututa, toki siihen viitataan Olli Sotamaan Pelintekemisen kulttuurit luvussa. Enemmän tai vähemmän huomioimatta jää tässä yhteydessä myös esimerkiksi Kiinassa ja muissa maissa kukoistava kultafarmaus ja siihen liittyvät eettiset ongelmat.

Itse olisin myös mielelläni lukenut luvun, joka olisi käsitellyt peliopetuksen historiaa Suomessa, erityisesti pelisuunnittelun osalta (johtuen ehkä nykyisestä toimestani, jossa olen vuorovaikutteisen median ja uusmedian suunnittelun teorian ja praktiikan kentillä/-ltä pikkuhiljaa ajautunut omaksumaan ja opettamaan myös pelisuunnittelua ja sen erityislaatuisuutta). Peliopetus laajasti katsottuna kattaa kaikki koulutusasteet: Suomessa ohjelmointia opetetaan nykyään usein pelejä tekemällä jo lastentarhasta lähtien, ja toisessa äärilaidassa löytyvät peliopetukseen ja pelisuunnitteluun liittyvät väitöskirjat. Suomen yläasteet, lukiot, ammattiopistot, ammattikorkeakoulut ja yliopistot tarjoavat pelisuunnitteluun liittyvää opetusta ja tutkintoja, ja alalla on käytössä hyvin erilaiset teoriakirjat ja tutkimusartikkelit ja niiden koosteet (mitenkään tämän kirjan merkitystä väheksymättä tässäkin kontekstissa). Tälläkin alalla on historiansa ja muutoksensa sekä varmasti eri käytäntönsä eri instituutioissa. Toinen näkyvä ja merkittävä tutkimuksen kohde voisi olla pelintekemisen harrastustoiminta. Pelijameihin osallistujien, indiejulkaisijoiden, modaajien, igda-toiminnan aktiivien ja muiden pelien tekemisen kulttuurissa vapaaehtoisesti omasta halusta mukana olevien ihmisten ja yhteisöjen esilletuominen myös tärkeänä osana pelikulttuuria olisi erittäin tervetullutta. Uskoakseni molempia aloja on Suomessa ansiokkaasti tutkittukin. Näiden lisäksi peli- ja leikkikulttuuriin on varmasti liitettävissä lukuisia muitakin näkökulmia, ja käsillä oleva kirja on eräs rajaus ja kokoelma näkökulmia.

Palaan jälleen ajatukseen, että Pelit kulttuurina -kirja on merkittävä avaus — toki samalla myös jonkinlainen kooste jo vuosikymmenten tutkimuksesta — suomalaisen pelikulttuurin tutkimuksen kentällä, vaikka se sellaisenaan edustaakin tekijöittensä tutkimusintressejä. Tässä tapauksessa teoksen luvut toimivat mainiosti johdatuksena pelien ja leikin kulttuureihin ja maailmoihin esitellen alaa yleisestä yksityiseen, antaen silti tilaa luvuille, jotka sisältävät melko spesifejäkin aiheita. Teos ei silti tunnu sirpaleiselta, tutkijat tuntevat toistensa tutkimushistorian, ovat työskennelleet jo aiemminkin yhteisissä hankkeissa, ja varmasti myös teoksen yhtenäisyyteen on panostettu sen toimitustyön aikana. Jatkon kannalta nousee kuitenkin esiin kysymys, mitä seuraavaksi: annetaanko ääni myös muille suomalaisille pelitutkijoille, joiden näkökulmat tuovat uutta tietoa ja tutkimusta esille, eli tietoa, joka kenties on suomalaisen pelikulttuurin huippututkimusyksikön ulkopuolella. Onhan sellaistakin?

Tomi Knuutila, yliopistonlehtori, Level 49 Pokemon Go -kouluttaja

Ajankohtaista

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Review of Many Splendored Things: Thinking Sex and Play by Susanna Paasonen

Miguel Sicart
miguel [a] itu.dk
Associate Professor
IT University of Copenhagen


Viittaaminen / How to cite: Sicart, Miguel. 2019. ”Review of Many Splendored Things: Thinking Sex and Play by Susanna Paasonen”. WiderScreen 22 (1-2). http://widerscreen.fi/numerot/2019-1-2/review-of-many-splendored-things-thinking-sex-and-play-by-susanna-paasonen/

Susanna Paasonen: Many Splendored Things: Thinking Sex and Play (2018). Goldsmiths Press: London.

Susanna Paasonen’s Many Splendored Things: Thinking Sex and Play is one of the most important books on play. Not just recent books on play, of which there have been many recently, all dully cited by Paasonen, but in general considering all books on play. Many Splendored Things is a fundamental book to understand the multifaceted connections between play, pleasure, and sexuality; a unique, insightful, provoking and rewarding book. Paasonen’s book fundamental contribution is the development of a mode of analysis of pleasure and sexuality from the perspective of play. As the author manifests: “The key rationale for this book is to make use of play in unravelling the dynamics of sexual fantasy, normativity and pleasure by pushing them beyond any given or clear divisions of straight and queer, yet to do it in such a way that does not erode complexities in how these categories have come about, or in how they continue to be lived and operationalised” (p. 4).

The concept of play allows the author to provide insights on the very convent of pleasure that break down heteronormative assumptions, and situate both play and pleasure as key concepts to explore the elements human expression and subjectivity present in sexual relations. To achieve this goal, Paasonen provides readers with both a strong theoretical foundation that draws on play theory, media studies, game studies, and philosophy, but also with a variety of case studies that illustrates the book’s main points.

It is difficult to choose a main contribution in a book such as this, packed with arguments that should be discussed in and across many different fields. In my opinion, however, there are two ideas that are the richest and most productive: first, the call for a play theory that moves away from the western heteronormative paradigm so many of us take for granted. In the first chapter of this book, Paasonen draws a critical take on many old and new theories of play, arguing that the way they have overlooked and/or misplaced the importance of sex as play reveals the dominance of a discourse that needs to be overcome. While this critique of Huizinga and Caillois is not new (see for example Lugones’ take on “playfulness”), Paasonen uses the perspective of sex, and thus of embodiment, to add another critical layer to her evaluation of the dominant theories of play. She does so not only in her reading of the venerable classics, but also of contemporary works. As an academic author, it is always rewarding to see one’s work discussed, critiqued, and corrected like Paasonen does with my own work. Paasonen is right in her critique, and my own theory of play suffers of a heteronormative take on pleasure and the body. Paasonen’s perspective and arguments are a better, more inclusive, and more productive take on pleasure and play.

It is precisely this take on play that I would consider the second main contribution of this book. Many Splendored Things is not a book about sex and play: it is a book that uses sex as a way to complicate and enrich our understandings of bodies and pleasure in the fundamentally ambiguous activity of play. This book is crucial for play scholars because it makes it evident that we cannot write about play -and that means also games- without considering the concept of (embodied) pleasure. This is not to say that there hasn’t been research on play and embodiment – what Paasonen does is place that history of reflecting on the role of bodies in play under the light of pleasure, using sex as an example that opens up normative discourses and assumptions, and forces play scholars interesting in thinking about bodies to also consider the nature of pleasure in the network of bodies, institutions, power and technologies.

While the book is rich in theoretical contributions, I would personally single out the second chapter, “Magic Circles and Magical Circuits of Play”. The topic of the magic circle in game studies might seem to be trite, but Paasonen manages to provide a new critical angle to it thanks to the focus on embodiment and the materiality of play, as in the discussion about props on page 22. The chapter critiques “vanilla play theories”, like mine, and provides a phenomenal analysis of the normativities lurking in many play theories, and how this book proposes an alternative: “ […] playfulness cuts across all kinds of sexual arragements. To separate play and playfulness from other moods and intensities that animate bodies ultimately means operating with a partial and normative understanding of sexuality that frames out a broad range of practices, routines, and experiences – or, alternatives, supports hierarchies of value and normality between them” (p. 33).

Many splendored things is an outstanding book, but not one without minor flaws. While I appreciated the width of scope and the rigor of the academic work, I found that the chapter dedicated to the analysis of Jan Soldat’s films was a dissonant note in the overall book. It is a high quality chapter, but in my opinion it breaks the flow of the argument because it is too much a media studies reading of cinematic texts. While the other chapters are more kaleidoscopic and varied in their approach to their subjects of study, Chapter 5 (“Slaves, Prisoners and the Edge of Play”) is perhaps too dependent on its own methodological tributes to media studies.

The only other flaw I’d like to mention in this review concerns the references regarding the study of sex and play, particularly from the perspective of power and politics. Paasonen’s review and reading of these theories is excellent, and yet I was thinking that there is a small body of work that focuses on sex as play, and its related to power. Some contemporary anarchist theory has looked at sex as play, and at play in general, as a way of framing alternatives to the power structures of developed societies (see for example Organise!’s “Anarchism and Sex” or Simon’s “Seven Thesis on Play” . In their search for arguments for the anarchist alternative, some theorists have looked at play as an instrument to analyze the importance of freedom, choice, and emergent social arrangements.

Not mentioning and engaging with these works is not a fault, for Paasonen’s project is not one defined by being completist in its literature review, but critical of dominant paradigms. However, I cannot but wonder what reflections on power, sex, and play would have been added to this book if Paasonen had discussed, with her claritity and vision, this body of work. It is then not a flaw in the book, but more an unfulfilled wish.

Many Splendored Things is a much needed book. While the celebration of play as liberator, as a field for pure expression and joy seems to be taken hold of many segments of academia and society, we seldom discuss what do we mean by joy and pleasure, and we tend to forget that sex, a fundamental form of human expression and being in the world, is also play. This book gives us the vocabulary, the ideas, and the will to consider sex as play, in all its enriching and multiple variances. This books puts pleasure at the center of the experience of play, and opens up the very concept of pleasure beyond normative discourses. This is, then, a political book about pleasure – non-conforming pleasure as play, and thus as a way of affirming ourselves in the world. Many Splendored Things gives us alternatives, challenges our assumptions, and reminds us of the complicated and yet central importance of pleasure in human experience.

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Review of Sex in Videogames by Brenda Brathwaite

Sabine Harrer
sabine.harrer [a] tuni.fi
Postdoc Researcher
Tampere University


Viittaaminen / How to cite: Harrer, Sabine. 2019. ”Review of Sex in Videogames by Brenda Brathwaite”. WiderScreen 22 (1-2). http://widerscreen.fi/numerot/2019-1-2/review-of-sex-in-videogames-by-brenda-brathwaite/

Brenda Brathwaite: Sex in Videogames (2006). Charles River Media: Boston, United States.

Sex in Videogames by the acclaimed game designer Brenda Brathwaite (now Romero) was first published in 2006 and is one of the first books to explicitly address the intersection of games and sexuality. However, the process of reviewing it for this special issue on Sexuality & Play has not been easy. As a relic from the past, it comes with problematic suggestions around sex and sexualisation which shed doubt on its contribution to academic discourse.

On the other hand, these lapses in themselves might show us something about mainstream ideas about sex and the games industry in 2006 and might inspire conversations about where to ideally take research in this area today. Instead of reading Sex in Videogames as if it were written today, it should be considered an historical document, an archive of sorts provoking two kinds of insights.

First, the book documents the existence of a number of sex games from the 1970s until 2005, covering little known titles and niche products developed in the intersection of pornography and videogames. Secondly, Sex in Videogames is a meta-document in that it archives a particular seemingly apolitical way of treating sex and videogames which is no longer feasible. Since recent developments like #GamerGate and #MeToo have exposed the game industry’s pervasive problem with (sexualised) power abuse (Massari 2017, Penny 2019), the book is part of a prelapsarian past, a game culture before the fall when the now hyper-visible “toxic gamer culture” (Consalvo 2012) could still be ignored.

This historical place can explain some of the authorial choices made in Sex in Videogames, notably its awkward avoidance of power and violence as the two elephants in a room.

Spanning over 300 pages and 14 chapters, the book attempts to cover the meaning, history, and legal culture around sex in the (US-American) games industry. One of the central problems with the book is that it does not reflect its main goal in investigating sex and videogames. Is it a design manual, a text book, or a games culture study? Who are the prospective readers, and how might they benefit from reading the book? This lack of a central premise necessarily affects the structure of the book, making it a loose collection of examples rather than a coherent argument.

For example, the book starts with a brief dictionary definition of sex and moves towards an inclusive interpretation of sex in games as sexually themed games contents, advertisement, “sexy” visuals and avatars, and “emergent sex”, the authors’ term for cybersex. This list of game-related contexts in which sex has appeared in one way or another ends with a remark that the book excludes sexualised violence, arguing that “such mechanics do not represent sex, instead they represent violence or the threat of violence and are therefore beyond the scope of this book” (SiV, p. 37).

However, as it turns out, the book does not follow through with this promise, giving significant space to the notorious rape simulator Custer’s Revenge and descriptions of abusive griefing behaviour by players engaging in “unwanted advances” (SiV, p. 109).

The chapter on the history of sex games provides perhaps the most unique contribution of the book. Documenting a number of obscure games developed between the 1970s and 2005, the chapter includes titles which have rarely been touched by mainstream games studies. Due to the sheer number of special interest titles like Dr. Ruths Good Sex Game, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Mac Playmate, Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender, and Cool Condoms alone, this chapter is worthwhile reading. However, the critical task of understanding these games in context is left to the reader. Most problematically, Brathwaite does not mention her involvement in some of the games, including Playboy: The Mansion, which is mentioned favourably throughout the book.

When it comes to understanding sex between players, Brathwaite suggests the term “emergent sex”. A large part of the chapter on emergent sex speculates about reasons people engage in sexual activities in games which were not specifically designed to cater to such experiences, treating sex more like a design feature which has slipped the designer’s control, rather than a pervasive aspect of human life.

A strong focus of the book is on the question of regulation and legislation in the US context as it existed in 2005, with a total of seven chapters dedicated to related topics (4, 6–12). Readers receive overly detailed introductions to industry rating boards, content guidelines, and policies. A refreshing exception is Deborah Solomon’s chapter on “obscenity”, which insightfully characterises the uneasy status of obscenity laws in US regulation and its implications for the treatment of videogames.

The book’s exhaustive treatment of legal perspectives stands in stark contrast to the 9-page long discussion on “positive inclusion”. As an example for positive inclusion, the author mentions products in the sexual health sector, such as advergames by condom manufacturers promoting their products through safe sex games. Two other, rather obscure examples for “positive inclusion” are sex-themed games without visuals and the enjoyment of sex games for sex’s sake. These examples contain unexamined assumptions about “good” sex, such as the idea that non-visual representations of sex are morally superior to graphic portrayals, or that sex for sex’s sake is even possible. Whose enjoyment is addressed, specifically, when sex for sex’s sake is enjoyed? When considering the examples given throughout the book, there is a tendency that this is a heterosexual cis-male player.

Perhaps the most problematic aspect in Brathwaite’s discussion of inclusion is the lack of attention to what has been excluded and should therefore be considered for inclusion. Apart from the failure to address diverse types of pleasure beyond the heteronormative player spectrum, the dimension of diverse creators is missing. Creators at the margins of game culture have productively engaged with sex through videogames in non-normative ways, as games like Caper in the Castro (1989) show. Such titles are not included in Sex in Videogames.

Overall, apart from serving as a chronicle for obscure sex-themed games from the past, how can Sex in Videogames be of value to readers in 2019? I suggest that the many flaws of the book might teach us something about how not to talk about sex anymore. First, Sex in Videogames shows that striving for an “objective” take on sex in videogames removes accountability. Brathwaite’s neutral authorial voice keeps her from critiquing whose enjoyment is prioritised, and by implication, who benefits from reading her book. Secondly, Sex in Videogames fails at drawing a basic link between sex and politics, resulting in a conflation of sex and sexualisation.

Given the hostility players and creators who are not white and cis-male face on a broader cultural level (DeWinter/Kocurek 2017) this conflation comes at the cost of those who are already oppressed. Were Sex in Videogames written today, it would have to reflect on its complicity in promoting harmful kinds of “sexiness” which further exclude pleasures that already exist at the margin of games.

 

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Ajankohtaista

Review on Tobias Scholz’s ESports is Business: Management in the World of Competitive Gaming

Miia Siutila
mimasi [a] utu.fi
Doctoral Student
Art History, Musicology and Media Studies
University of Turku

Viittaaminen / How to cite: Siutila, Miia. 2019. ”Review on Tobias Scholz’s ESports Is Business: Management in the World of Competitive Gaming”. WiderScreen Ajankohtaista 17.7.2019. http://widerscreen.fi/numerot/ajankohtaista/review-on-tobias-scholzs-esports-is-business-management-in-the-world-of-competitive-gaming/


Review on Tobias Scholz’s ESports is Business: Management in the World of Competitive Gaming (2019). Palgrave Pivot: Cham, Switzerland.

Tobias Scholz’s book ESports is Business: Management in the World of Competitive Gaming (2019) is the first academic book published explicitly on the business side of esports, and as such, certainly a required reading for all scholars interested in esports and competitive gaming. So far and excluding a couple exceptions like T. L. Taylors 2012 book, our knowledge of esports-related businesses has derived largely from news articles, journalists, and even social media, which makes Scholz’s book an important publication. That said, the tone of ESports is Business remains introductory, and therefore sets an expectation of deeper future studies.

Scholz states in the introductory chapter that the phenomenon of esports will be “analyzed in depth based on various theoretical frameworks rooted in strategic management theory” (11). The book first goes through the history of esports from a management perspective in order for “the reader to grasp the underlying principles” (11). Chapter 3 focuses on identifying and describing the internal and external stakeholders of the esports ecosystem, and in Chapter 4 Scholz lists and describes the system’s underlying and unwritten principles. Chapter 5 is about the interaction between business models present in esports, and the final Chapter 6 speculates with future possibilities. Throughout the book Scholtz aims to provide detailed descriptions and focus on the interaction and interplay of various actors from the perspective of different business administration theories.

While the theoretical principles of business administration are described and explained in great detail, the content focusing on esports is often relatively superficial and does not always analyze the issues very deeply. The interplay between esports business and the rest of the esports ecosystem is sometimes missing. For example, discussing the history of esports more explicitly from business perspective instead of the relatively familiar narrative of listing events and games would give better context of the matter to the reader.

The central claim of Scholz’s book is that esports business models and ecosystems differ from other industries in their operations. The central stakeholders in esports would not be able to operate without the existence of the others: without the games there would be nothing to play, without the tournament organizers there would be no competitions and therefore no place for the teams to field their players, without the teams the players would not have such careers as now, without the players there would be no audiences, and without the audiences there would not be any games. All stakeholders need each other in order to conduct their business and are dependent of the existence of others.

Scholz considers the esports industry special in comparison to more traditional industries in how agile it has been from the very beginning, with the fast paced change and development in particular. In addition, esports was born global and digital, and is one of the first industries that are now trying to better reach the local and analog audiences. This developmental path has been the opposite to those of previous industries, and many have greatly struggled in their endeavors to move onto the digital and online markets.

Finally, Scholz introduces a perspective relatively uncommon in both popular media and scientific academia: esports as ungovernable Wild West, where the metaphor of Wild West should be seen as a land of opportunities rather than as a land of chaotic threats. Most academics who have discussed esports governance and institutions in esports have concluded that the current system is insufficient and some kind of a governing body or the very least more direct legal consideration is needed. Scholz rather sees this esport industry’s unregulated and ‘lawless’ state as an opportunity for the businesses to grow; external regulation would hinder the industry and it is better to just leave it be and self-regulate if and when needed. He states that the current method has worked so far: the industry has developed regulations when they have been needed and that there is no reason why it would not work in the future.

The most interesting insights of the book are in the chapter focusing on stakeholders. The discussions of this particular section are definitely among the most detailed and deep. Especially the primary stakeholders and differences between them are discussed and explained comprehensively, and their respective problems and effects on the industry are considered. Scholz explains the different approaches developers have had in managing their particular titles and their competitive communities; he continues with tournament organizers and the processes of creating a major tournament when developers are (not) able or willing to organize their own competitive scene; with pro teams their problems in funding and longevity are discussed, and the analysis of pro players is refreshing as it considers the matters also from other perspectives than the biggest stars. Scholz does not forget the providers and communities involved in esports either; these include the different organizations and companies that support related activities and enable the phenomenon to exists by their service (news coverage, law and talent agencies, etc.), infrastructure (streaming, training, event organizers, etc.), hardware (computer equipment), and communities that organize local events such as viewing parties.

The greatest limitations of the book are in the chapters discussing governance. Be it about the sporting world wishing esports to develop similar governance structures as traditional sports, the unwritten governing principles or the Wild West metaphor of esports, Scholz has a bias for the independent esports businesses. He sees esports as an industry that should govern itself completely without outsider constraints, and justifies the view by arguing that it has worked well so far: the current growth and popularity are the only evidence. Scholz asserts that “necessary solutions and governance principles emerge when a problem becomes apparent” (76).

While the above perspective makes a point, it is one sided and ignores even some of the primary stakeholders such as professional players. Throughout the history of esports, there have been several cases where the only course of action for a professional player to seek justice when wronged has been social media. The unfair treatment of professional, semiprofessional, and amateur players by the other stakeholders is an ongoing problem with limited emerging solutions and governance. Individuals tend to be the weakest stakeholders in the scene, and efforts to protect their rights are left undiscussed.

In conclusion, ESports is Business is an interesting book that could have been even more. While the issues that Scholz discusses in the book are timely and intriguing, taking the discussions further would have been possible with the relevant additions of (business) ethics and more direct comparisons to other (online and digital) industries. The book has a clear pro-esports bias, and toning it down a bit with critical remarks would have benefitted the total. Still, this book has been needed and refreshes the esports scholars of academia with a topic that few, if any, have discussed to this length and comprehensiveness before.