Designing Esports Streams for the Novice Viewer

Understanding how visual overlays on esports streams can increase knowledge and enhance the experience for new viewers


The Problem

600 million consumers globally will watch esports in 2023, up 79% from 2017. Because of this rise in esports, there is a need to accomodate a more broad audience as it becomes more available on different channels, and as more and more people get invested. The best way to understand an esport currently is to play the video game for oneself, and esports streams do not currently try to help a wider audience understand the game.

The Solution

By understanding novice viewer motivations and needs when it comes to watching traditional sports and esports, I will create a framework for enhancing the esports viewing experience through enhancing understanding of the game. By creating optional visual overlays on top of an existing stream, my solution will not lessen the viewing experience for seasoned viewers, and give the option for new viewers gain visual assistance to create a better understanding and appreciation of the game.

My Roles

• UX Designer

• Researcher

My Team

• Me

• Researchers in the IMTC Lab at Georgia Tech

• Industry Professionals from Turner and Riot Games

Methods Used

• Interviews

• Obversations

• Affinity Mapping

• Comparative Analysis

• Participatory Design Workshop

• To be continued...




First, I had to understand general motivations and reasonings for why people watch or play sports. I could use this information to translate general motivations from traditional sports into a foundation for esports.

“We've grown up with all these other sports being on TV or like paid spectator sports. So like that, those just kind of feel like, well duh, you know?”



Strong family and friend influence

Most participants learned the sports that they enjoy through their family and friends.


Strong emphasis on stories and players

When participants talked about their favorite sports, they focused a lot on how the stories of their favorite teams and players shaped the game.

Observations (Watch Party)


3Hour Game

Based on my interviews, I came to learn how all participants learned sports they enjoy through friends and family. I wanted to replicate that experience for esports. I wanted to understand what new viewers' opinions are on the esports game as they watch it, and how I (a domain expert) can interact with new viewers. This would allow me to understand the nuances of a person's journey to enjoy and learn a sport (an esport in this case), since I did not get these detailed findings from my interviews.

“I think it's hilarious how I'm seeing these people and it's giving me nothing.”



Did not need full knowledge of game to enjoy viewing

Even though the game did not help the viewers understand the rules of the game, viewers still enjoyed looking at all the chaos and following players.


Knowledge of players and basic rules enhanced viewing experience

Viewers appreciated the game more when they understood the player's roles and the rules of the game. Viewers were able to call out plays and associate players with their characters as the game went on, enabling them to learn and enjoy the game more.

Affinity Map


Next, I created an affinity map to understand the major themes of novice viewing that I gained from my research. This way, I could use these themes to influence my designs.

4 Main Themes:



Rules are important to understand the implications of plays in the game.



Understanding aspects of a game originate from playing the game or friends and family teaching it. Viewers have lots of questions about the game, and not everyone has the knowledge to explain it.



Learning about the history of teams and their players enhances the dynamics of the matchup.



Seeing reactions from fans, commentators, players, and friends or family enhances the viewing experience.

Participatory Design Workshop


5Participants from the Watch Party

I was able to inform designs for the Interactions and Stories themes from my previous research. However, I needed some more nuanced information for the Gameplay and Knowledge categories in order to inform my designs properly. With this codesign workshop, I was able to understand what viewers were confused about, if they were interested in learning more, and how they would prefer to learn about this information in the game.

Participants watched curated clips that were impactful to them from the watch party, and identified areas that they were confused about and would like to know more about. We then discussed how we might create solutions to help solve any confusion and create a better understanding of the game.

Artifacts from Session



Participants have a solid grasp of what they need to understand

In the session, participants were quick to call out what they did not understand, and were able to come up what they would ideally like to see from the experience to help keep them in the know.


This isn't just about League of Legends

Understanding what participants were confused about can translate to many different games. Objectives, champion selection, team fights, compositions, and many more elements span across all esports, and need better guidance for novice viewers. By ideating solutions in this session, I can understand how I might translate it across other esports.


Design Mockups

From the participatory design session, I needed to map out ideas in order to create usability tests to see if the proposed ideas stand up in real time.

Sketching Design Ideas

Moving to Digital Mockups for Video Overlays

Creating Animations from Mockups

Click the links to view the videos:

Usability Testing

Currently setting up testing for design animation mockups...