Social Bodies in Virtual Worlds: Intercorporeality in Esports

David Ekdahl*, Susanne Ravn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


As screen-based virtual worlds have gradually begun facilitating more and more of our social interactions, some researchers have argued that the virtual worlds of these interactions do not allow for embodied social understanding. The aim of this article is to examine exactly the possibility of this by looking to esports practitioners’ experiences of interacting with each other during performance. By engaging in an integration of qualitative research methodologies and phenomenology, we investigate the actual first-person experiences of interaction in the virtual worlds of the popular team-based esports practices Counter Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. Our analysis discloses how the practitioners’ interactions essentially depend on intercorporeality – understood as a form of reciprocity of bodily intentionality between the players. This is an intercorporeality that is present throughout the players’ performance, but which especially comes to the front when they engage in feinting. Acknowledging the intercorporeality integral to at least some esports practices helps fuzzying the sharp division between virtuality and embodied social understanding. Doing so highlights the fluidity of our embodied condition, and it raises interesting questions concerning the possibility of yet other forms of embodied sociality in a wider range of virtual formats in the world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27. Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding information: This research was funded by the University of Southern Denmark ‘(Department of Sports Science
and Clinical Biomechanics’ and ‘Department for the Study of Culture’) and ‘The Danish Ministry of Culture’


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