From gamers to athletes
Supporting the evolution of the eSports community with dedicated products and services
How to intercept and interpret the needs of such a specific and growing community, spread worldwide?
We conducted an extensive ethnographic research across gaming hubs in Europe, Asia and North America, to get to know all the actors involved in the eSports ecosystem and inspire ideas.
We turned the insights into a map of opportunities that could bring innovation in the eSports world, and run specific co-design sessions to bring some of those to life.
eSports is a much more structured industry than what you may think. Games like Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends and many others have now official leagues and tournaments.
Teams and players train themselves to become the best with the help of personal coaches. Passionate funs ritually gather into virtual or physical arenas to watch their favourite gamers competing. Basically playing video games has become very similar to any other traditional sport disciplines, growing in popularity while retaining its strong authenticity and sense of community. In this project, we were asked to map the raising world of eSports in order to develop ideas for new products and services that could be envisioned to help the entire gaming community fully express themselves.
In order to setup the research, we first explored the digital platforms that gamers use to stream and interact, like Twitch: by spending time there observing the matches and the group chats, we started to understand more about spoken and unspoken rules of their communities. Those platforms offered also the opportunity to get in touch with some of them, and ask to meet in person in their city to guide us explore the local scene. In this way we visited Stockholm, Paris, Seoul, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, where we interviewed individual gamers as well as immersed in the gaming cafes, tournaments and events. From the PC bangs in South Korea to the Sunday matches at EPIC headquarters on the sunny West Coast, we learnt how playing games helps young generations express themselves freely, overcome personal issues and develop social relationships with peers from all over the world, grow strategic/critical thinking skills that will help in their future professions.
Several innovation opportunities came out of the study, focusing on topics such as gender, community, performance and style. In particular, there is a big opportunity to help gamers feel more like professional athletes, by providing clothes and gears that could both ensure the best performances while shaping a recognisable look. We further developed the opportunity by engaging gamers and designers with various backgrounds in ideation rounds aimed at coming up with specific concepts, that represented a starting point for Puma to develop new partnerships and sponsorships, as well as new collections of clothes and accessories. More to come :)