This paper is a participant-observer case study of the Overwatch League (OWL) 2021 Chinese streaming. Within the contemporary dynamic and diversified mediascape of China, esports streaming has become increasingly popular (Taylor, 2018; Wohn & Freeman, 2020). Esports streaming allows spectators to watch esports players’ intense competitions in real time and interact through danmu (bullet comments), gift sending systems, or via streaming lotteries (Lee et al., 2019; Abarbanel & Johnson, 2020; Zhang & Cassany, 2020). The Chinese streaming of Overwatch League (OWL), a series of Overwatch (OW) esports tournaments owned by Activision Blizzard, on Bilibili can be considered a game streaming localisation practice which localises audiovisual content from the original English-language streaming source into Chinese and then innovates upon it in the form of a number of local streaming programmes. The OWL Chinese streaming has disclosed many issues and strategies taken toward sensitive elements like game slang, cultural differences, the presence of erotic or violent content, gambling, media accessibility and censorship laws. The analysis of the selected cases in this article extends the current theories dealing with game localisation (e.g. Zhang Xiaochun, 2012; O’Hagan & Mangiron, 2013; Mangiron et al., 2014) into a new layer, dealing with game streaming localisation. The findings suggest the complications of game streaming content, including the controversial impacts of localisation strategies on sensitive elements, cross-media marketing of streaming practices and the participation of various stakeholders (e.g. officials, sponsors, fans) in game streaming localisation.
Image: Screenshot of OWL Time Machine (Chen, 2021)
- game streaming,
- game interaction,
- game localisation,
- game slang