COMMUNICATION IN E-SPORTS TEAMS: a way to break through the individuality-barrier and boost team-performance
communication skills, e-sports mediation, conflict resolution
Competitive video gaming, formally known as “E-sports”, has been rapidly growing over the past few years. Elite gamers from all over the world participate in events, tournaments and compete against each other for prizes and fame. Sponsored teams have been established over the recent years, as the market grows bigger and bigger. In 2018, the global e-sports market was valued at nearly 865 million US dollars and it is estimated to reach a revenue of 1.80 billion in 2022! (Russ, 2019)
TEAM COMMUNICATION IN E-SPORTS
There is a growing need for effective communication and conflict resolution among e-sports teams. “E-sport teams are being housed together with coaches, managers and strategists” (Himmelstein, Liu, Shapiro, 2017, p. 2). Young players from different countries are put together and are asked to perform as a team and produce excellent results, when many of the them have never been in a team nor in such a competitive environment ever before. This lack of teamwork experience, along with the competitive nature of e-sports, creates a very challenging environment for players and raises the question of how a team can help its members overcome these obstacles. Proper communication among the players, the coach and the management is vital in order for any team to reach its goals, and in the case of e-sports, effective communication might hold the key to success.
THE IMPACT OF COMMUNICATION SKILLS
A successful team uses communication for individual development as well as for overall good team performance and coherence. Players develop through the support of the team, feel that the team is a safe environment for them and become more open-minded through effective communication. All these elements help each team-member feel comfortable to share his thoughts and ideas, and at the same time become more accepting to others’ perspectives. An environment of open communication paves the way to successful co-operation, which allows for the team to unfold its full potential.
Additionally, feeling safe and being open-minded as a player also means that you will be able to deal with on-going criticism, which is a major issue in the e-sports community and culture. Open communication and empathy play an important role in dealing with criticism as a team and not as an individual player, which amplifies the feeling of safety and togetherness.
DEVELOPING EMPATHY, SOFT SKILLS AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
Empathy is a cognitive trait that includes the ability to understand the inner experiences and perspectives of another person along with the ability to communicate this understanding back to them (Hojat, 2016).
According to Hojat, empathy can be measured and developed. Soft skills such as active listening, proper body language and negotiation skills can be enhanced via interactive training specifically designed to target issues that arise in the e-sports community.
E-SPORTS MEDIATION AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
In cases where conflict cannot be prevented through effective team communication skills, then an “e-sports Mediator” could step in. An e-sports Mediator is a professional Mediator with excellent knowledge of the e-sports industry, the gaming industry and e-sports teams. The e-sports Mediator does not suggest or implement a solution, but helps the parties (players, coaches, managers etc.) find common ground and a mutually agreeable solution. Apart from dealing with separate individual cases of conflict, the e-sports Mediator can also assist the team to design and establish a conflict resolution system that will provide the basis for effectively addressing all upcoming conflicts.
Designing a conflict resolution system enables players and teams to:
- Prevent conflict escalation and reduce conflict severity
- Eliminate conflicts before they emerge
- Establish a conflict resolution policy which cultivates an open communication environment
- Reduce the economic impact of conflict
Mediators’ Trainer at ADR Hellenic Center
CEO of International Data Compliance and Computing, IDCC