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Unit G.2

Group AB-2

John Ho, Hanna Lee, John Nguyen, and Soneta Un


Over the past decade, the world of esports and the rise of competitive gaming have exploded in popularity internationally. Esports is an organized and competitive approach to playing video games. It represents the physical aspects of competitive game experiences through digital augmentation and technologies, with attention to fan engagement and the various communities involved in the gaming world. With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving many home-ridden with nothing to do, online gaming grew exponentially in acclaim and traction. The viewership of major esports tournaments surpassed traditional sporting events, with the 2017 League of Legends tournament garnering a staggering 60M viewer count, which exceeded the NBA finals’ 24M viewer record (Cranmer et al. 2021). Also, esports teams make up an entire market, which involves investors and sponsors. In 2019, esports alone generated $1.2B in revenue, outperforming prior expectations (Cranmer et al., 2021). With the influx of gaming popularity, Amazon and other corporations have taken the opportunity to capitalize on this growing market. 


In the instance of Amazon, Riot Games, a renowned video game developer and esports company, decided to partner with AWS in July 2022. The intention is to use AWS’s data analytics integration to enhance how Riot’s esports content is created and distributed to revolutionize the esports experience. AWS is currently Riot’s official Cloud Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Machine Learning (ML), Cloud Deep Learning (DL), and Cloud Services provider. With the addition of these Cloud capabilities, Riot displays real-time rankings of pro teams and players alongside key stats of teams during tournaments, so fans get a breakdown of team performance. Also, AWS’s machine learning technologies have helped to support audience engagement through bracket challenges called “Pick’ems Powered by AWS,” which reward prizes to fans who correctly select the teams that make it to each championship event. Twitch, an interactive live streaming service owned by Amazon, also benefits from the partnership by allowing content release and collaborations with the esports environment while providing real-time stats similar to sports broadcasts (“AWS Teams Up with Riot Games,” 2022).


Amazon claimed its spot in the esports environment, which begs the question, what else could be in store for the Amazon-esports partnership? What if Amazon incorporated its services such as Alexa, the virtual assistant, or other technologies to invade the space of esports? Our objective is to illustrate what could happen if Amazon continued its push into esports with features such as voice recognition and targeted ads. Our final project consists of storyboards on a website that details the process of Amazon’s complete takeover of esports and the eventual consequences. The first storyboard depicts the current state of Amazon and its relationship with esports. The final storyboard displays a hypothetical reality of esports with all of Amazon's entanglements. Our goal is to provide a broad outlook on the impacts of AI models and technological features within esports in an easily digestible form. The high-level view allows the audience to formulate their interpretation and have space for creativity. As the gaming industry continues to grow and solidify itself as a prominent part of our everyday lives, it becomes pertinent that we understand the future ramifications that may come with AI technologies and corporations that integrate themselves into our daily habits, like Amazon. The ethical issues around this topic include privacy/security concerns and content moderation, which heavily impact the future of gaming and everyday life. We hope our project will provide insight to our audience, specifically those within the esports and gaming community.

Relevant Works

The esports industry is considered, by many, to be in its infancy stage. Researchers from a wide array of disciplines—business, sports science, economics, cognitive science, informatics, law, media studies, and sociology—are pouring into this vastly unexplored landscape. Their projects focus on virtual reality, mixed reality, branding, and emerging technologies. These advancements have had global esports impacts, with the Chinese esports revenue increasing by 18% since 2019 (Cranmer et al., 2021). In an industry with unlimited profit potential, it is not surprising that the focus is around maximizing business gains. The research paper, Esports matrix: Structuring the esports research agenda, "examin[ed] key areas such as impact, acceptance, and barriers to esports to develop a unified framework to capitalize on esports business potential" (Cranmer et al., 2021). 


Due to the explosiveness of the industry, major companies like Amazon have partnered with esports giants to provide AI technology for match analysis, player stats, and audience participation (Amazon Web Services, 2022). Amazon acquired Twitch, one of the largest video game streaming platforms, to further cement its claim in the esports arena. This was a game-changer for the industry. However, as it becomes more influential in the esports community, what other Amazon services will make their way into the esports business and what concerns does that raise? 


Jackson and Orebaugh's A Study of Security and Privacy Issues Associated with the Amazon Echo revealed the device is always passively listening to its users, waiting for the wake word "Alexa." This feature is incredibly convenient since it minimizes the response time; the device is ready to activate, record, and process any request from its users. However, there is one major shortcoming. The Echo cannot distinguish between different voices; even TV or cartoon characters named Alexa can trigger the device to activate (Jackson & Orebaugh, 2018). This raises many privacy concerns since it can record and store private conversations not meant for public consumption. For example, there was a case in an article by The Guardian where Alexa recorded a conversation and sent it to a random contact. They believed the device was activated when it heard a word that sounded like “Alexa." Then, it interpreted the conversation as a "send message" request, in which Alexa determined a recipient with the next spoken name, and it sent the audio to the recipient (Wolfson, 2018). Technology meant for convenience and ease turned against the user.


A 2022 research study by Duffy and Meisner revealed the harmful effects of Tiktok’s algorithms on content creators of color and marginalized communities. Tiktok can ban a user’s content from the platform without their knowledge through a method called shadowbanning. Its algorithms revealed instances of blocking searches with the term "black" and demonetizing the content of LGBTQ+ creators. Users who experienced algorithmic bias believe that “Tiktok is really praying on the downfall of queers, trans, and creators of color” (Duffy & Meisner, 2022). It highlighted that Tiktok did not take ethics into consideration when designing its technology. The problematic and negligent mindset of large entertainment companies persisted in Twitch.

In the early months of 2021, Twitch promoted a sexual genre of streams to raise its popularity. Girls wearing bikinis would stream themselves sitting in hot tubs or pools, drinking, and fulfilling requests for donations (i.e., writing a donor's name on pool toys or their body parts). Aptly named Hot Tub, the streams dominated nearly 80% of the watch hours, surpassing the most streamed video games in the world. That translated into 9.77 million watch hours between March and April of 2021. A streamer could increase their viewership by 20/30-fold by switching to this content. An example of this was Faith, who averaged 378 viewers in February. By the end of March, she averaged 7.4k viewers (Belous, 2021).


As AI technology becomes more prominent within the esports industry, our team believes the gaming community must understand the ethical issues that occur as a result. Our project will build on top of a few projects--“A Study of Security and Privacy Issues Associated with the Amazon Echo” by Jackson and Orebaugh, “Amazon's Alexa Recorded Private Conversation and Sent It to Random Contact” news article by Wolfson, and “Platform Governance at the Margins: Social Media Creators’ Experiences with Algorithmic (in)Visibility” by Duffy and Meisner— and utilize their findings into hypothetical storyboards that cover content moderation and privacy issues regarding Amazon technologies in esports. 

Our Journey

Our team has two avid gamers, and with Amazon's encroachment, they've paused with the new developments which led us down this path. AI has and will continue to "infect" and disrupt the esports world, which raises ethical issues on new terrain. We want our audience to walk away from our project with a new mindset; think about the effects and tradeoffs these technologies have on their lives. Due to the time limitation, the scope of our project was reined in. We condensed some components but maintained the integrity of the project impact and set a foundation that we are proud of. Our goal after this class is to have a more detailed user interface, user workflows, and additional storyboards. That means redesigning our wireframes, flushing out our storyboards, and translating our Figma prototype. Most importantly, it would be a fully functional deployed website accessible to everyone on the internet.

Link to Figma Prototype

Works Cited

Amazon Web Services. (2022). AWS Teams Up with Riot Games to Reimagine Esports Experiences. Amazon.

     Retrieved October 27, 2022, from

Belous, D. (2021, May 5). Hot tub on Twitch: Viewership stats, most popular streamers and controversy of the meta.

     Streams Charts. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from

Cranmer, E. E., Han, D.-I. D., van Gisbergen, M., & Jung, T. (2021). Esports Matrix: Structuring the Esports Research         Agenda. Computers in Human Behavior, 117.

Duffy, B. E., & Meisner, C. (2022). Platform Governance at the Margins: Social Media Creators’ Experiences with

     Algorithmic (in)Visibility. Media, Culture & Society, 1–20.


Jackson, C., & Orebaugh, A. (2018). A Study of Security and Privacy Issues Associated with the Amazon Echo. 

     International Journal of Internet of Things and Cyber-Assurance, 1(1), 91–100.      

Wolfson, S. (2018, May 24). Amazon's Alexa Recorded Private Conversation and Sent It to Random Contact. The

     Guardian. Retrieved November 13, 2022, from


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