Frontiers in Psychology (Jan 2019)

Esports: The Chess of the 21st Century

  • Matthew A. Pluss,
  • Kyle J. M. Bennett,
  • Andrew R. Novak,
  • Derek Panchuk,
  • Derek Panchuk,
  • Aaron J. Coutts,
  • Job Fransen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10


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For many decades, researchers have explored the true potential of human achievement. The expertise field has come a long way since the early works of de Groot (1965) and Chase and Simon (1973). Since then, this inquiry has expanded into the areas of music, science, technology, sport, academia, and art. Despite the vast amount of research to date, the capability of study methodologies to truly capture the nature of expertise remains questionable. Some considerations include (i) the individual bias in the retrospective recall of developmental activities, (ii) the ability to develop ecologically valid tasks, and (iii) difficulties capturing the influence of confounding factors on expertise. This article proposes that expertise research in electronic sports (esports) presents an opportunity to overcome some of these considerations. Esports involves individuals or teams of players that compete in video game competitions via human-computer interaction. Advantages of applying the expert performance approach in esports include (i) developmental activities are objectively tracked and automatically logged online, (ii) the constraints of representative tasks correspond with the real-world environment of esports performance, and (iii) expertise has emerged without the influence of guided systematic training environments. Therefore, this article argues that esports research provides an ideal opportunity to further advance research on the development and assessment of human expertise.