Esports performance is still a relatively novel field, and as such experts often draw on research from other competitive disciplines. Since esports relies heavily on cognitive skills and executive function, chess is a useful research analog. This study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, outlines some of the ways in which chess research has allowed us to study human performance, as well as the ways in which esports performance research can further advance this field of study.
The expert performance approach is a method used to study expertise and understand how it develops over time. It involves capturing expert performance in a real-world environment, identifying the underlying mechanisms that contribute to that performance, and examining how expertise develops through practice and learning. However, there are limitations to this approach when applied to domains where a clear and measurable performance outcome is lacking, and where external factors such as talent development programs and mentorship may complicate the interpretation of the nature of expertise.
Esports has emerged as a new domain for studying expert performance due to its potential to overcome some of these limitations. The virtual nature of esports allows for the development of task-representative designs that closely resemble the dynamic and ever-changing nature of a real-world environment, while still maintaining internal validity through the use of technology. In addition, the virtual nature of esports may make it less affected by external factors such as talent development programs and mentorship. However, it is important to consider the task representativeness of the virtual environment and potential confounders that may affect performance.
The study of esports has the potential to provide insights into the development of expertise in a rapidly growing field. It can also facilitate the assessment of a range of performance-related characteristics and the development of online training scenarios. However, it is important for researchers to consider the current version of the games they use and the potential for rule changes to affect the results, and to carefully consider the task representativeness of the virtual environment and potential confounders. Overall, the expert performance approach applied to esports has the potential to provide valuable insights into the development of expertise in this new domain.
Coaches and support staff in the field of esports should consider the following unique considerations when applying the expert performance approach to their work:
Pluss, Matthew & Bennett, Kyle & Novak, Andrew & Panchuk, Derek & Coutts, Aaron & Fransen, Job. (2019). Esports: The Chess of the 21st Century. Frontiers in Psychology. 10. 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00156.
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