Blending the real and virtual in games: the model of fantasy sports
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Fantasy sports provide participants with the opportunity to play the role of coach for a team of athletes they select. The better the athletes perform in their real-world competitions, the better the virtual teams they are on will perform. Leagues for fantasy sports started almost 50 years ago and have grown to the point that there are now approximately 30 million participants. Initially using paper and pencil, fantasy sports are now growing rapidly due to the ease of organizing and playing in on-line leagues. The use of computers has changed fantasy leagues from being mostly a group of friends or acquaintances in a local community to potentially being anonymous players from around the world. Newer software is countering the trend towards anonymity with the inclusion of features, such as league newspapers, that provide a greater context surrounding the fantasy leagues. The rhetoric found in descriptions and advertising for fantasy sports emphasizes competition, empowerment, and participation. Looking at the activities of current fantasy sports and the rhetoric surrounding them yields a framework based on their use of real versus virtual action and player versus external control. It is the integration of activity in a virtual game and spectatorship of a real sport that makes fantasy sports a model to explore how other entertainment combining virtual and real world activities may be constructed. Copyright 2009 ACM.
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