Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Sport électronique, agressivité motrice et sociabilités

Abstract : This transdiciplinary work, at the intersection of motor praxeology, the sociology of sports and game studies, seeks to understand the phenomenon of “electronic sport” (Wagner, 2006; Taylor, 2012), using the fighting game Mortal Kombat X as its primary focus. The first chapter of this dissertation examines the competitive video gaming practice under four objective and operational criteria commonly used to define a sport: the physicality, the organization of competitions, the regulatory system and the institutional device (Parlebas, 1999). In order to understand more clearly the characteristics shared by these two contemporary practices, our analysis is based on a qualitative methodology centered on direct observations during training and e-sport competitions (n = 9) and semi-directive interviews with amateurs, semi-professional gamers (n = 4) and with an organizer of competitive events (n = 1). The collected data (photographs, field notes and interviews) focus on one hand on the event’s organization (governing bodies, space and equipment, competition format, broadcasting) and on the other hand on player interactions (behavior and speech, appropriation of time and space, interactions with other players and with the material). With this data in mind, we asked if e-sports can be considered as a sport, does competitive video gaming, especially with violent content, encourage aggressive behavior? And if so, does it promote social interactions among players? The sportization process (Elias & Dunning, 1986) of competitive video gaming, allows in the second chapter of our study for an indirect reflection on the themes of violence in sports and video games, aided by the concept of motor aggression (Collard, 2004; Dugas, 2011). Drawing on the work of Collard (2004), we have established a typology of different forms of aggression often occurring in e-sports. Here, we distinguished “real aggression,” taking place outside of the game, mostly illegal or at best permitted, from “virtual aggression,” which takes place in the virtual environment and is lawful or at worst tolerated. The quantitative analysis is based on recorded observations during training (n = 1) and competitions (n = 3). We filmed 29 regular and competitive players (28 men and one woman). During the observation of 33 fights, two cameras were oriented toward both the real player and its virtual representation on screen. The results show more than 18,250 occurrences of lawful aggression, a little less than 300 occurrences of tolerated aggression, and no occurrence of illegal aggression. Like sports, e-sports simultaneously result in a certain form of aggression while following the evolutionary logic of games oriented toward a decrease of the risk of physical injury. The final chapter deals with the forms of sociability (Simmel, 1981) present in the practice of e-sport. The groupings of competitors into “communities” or “teams” highlight these interactions among competitive players. We conducted a questionnaire analysis as a paired comparison (Condorcet, 1785). We asked 207 players (196 men and 11 women) to class six reasons why they practice e-sports: competition, social interactions, recognition, skill development, graphics and sensations procured by participation. Results reveal that 63% (130/207) rankings are transitive, showing that individual choices are consistent and the preferences are structured. Collective choices indicate a high homogeneity. Although the competitive aspect is the main reason for playing e-sports, social interactions are the second factor, leading us away from popular ideas of a socially isolated player. Just as with “real-life” sports, e-sports mirror the societies in which they are created. The sportization of competitive video gaming is a good indicator of the social and cultural developments of our time. By abandoning the human target in favor of a virtual target, e-sports seem to represent a substituted and played form of a socially acceptable symbolic aggression. Because of the necessary confrontation of another real player, competitive video games promote social interactions in the real and virtual worlds, while also appearing to be a medium of possible relational well-being.
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Nicolas Besombes <>
Submitted on : Monday, May 22, 2017 - 4:12:21 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 4:10:43 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 2:13:09 PM


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 4.0 International License


  • HAL Id : tel-01517861, version 1



Nicolas Besombes. Sport électronique, agressivité motrice et sociabilités. Sociologie. Université Paris Descartes Paris Sorbonne; Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2016. Français. ⟨tel-01517861v1⟩



Record views


Files downloads