Login | Register

"Melee is Broken": Super Smash Bros. Melee: An Interdisciplinary Esports Ethnography


"Melee is Broken": Super Smash Bros. Melee: An Interdisciplinary Esports Ethnography

Rappaport, Abbie "spoopy" (2020) "Melee is Broken": Super Smash Bros. Melee: An Interdisciplinary Esports Ethnography. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

[thumbnail of Rappaport_MA_F2020.pdf]
Text (application/pdf)
Rappaport_MA_F2020.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Spectrum Terms of Access.


This work presents a qualitative analysis of the esports community that plays and watches Super Smash Bros. Melee (SSBM), a platform-based fighting game released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2001. SSBM is unusual as an esport for the way that it is built on a grass-roots foundation shaped by players (rather than the game’s developers) and is contingent on the continued use of residual media objects, specifically the CRT television, Nintendo GameCube and Wii console coupled with the restraints of analog signal processing . SSBM players show particular dedication to dominant community practices like strict tournament rules and settings, shared use of dialect/nomenclatures, mode of play and so on, which are derived from, embedded in, and reinforced by specific hardware and software objects. Competitive SSBM is salient case study for how a community of users can disrupt hardware and software developers’ initial ambitions for their products. The scene’s subversion of Nintendo’s intention for SSBM to be a casual party game (akin to their family-friendly Mario Party series) demonstrates how players can develop agonistic relationships to corporate power by developing their own community protocols out of the affordances and constraints of the material objects. This thesis operates as an accessible bridge between academia and the SSBM esports community. Methodologically, I draw on auto-ethnography, networked community resources, and media archaeology. Accompanying the written work are various illustrations and designs that appeal to visual communities, offer alternative methods for narration, and contribute to an interdisciplinary understanding of the argument through research-creation. Ultimately, this thesis weaves together scholarly research methods with creative practices to argue for SSBM’s unusual position as an esport structured by its players rather than its developers, and rooted in ostensibly obsolete hardware.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Rappaport, Abbie "spoopy"
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Individualized Program
Thesis Supervisor(s):Wershler, Darren and Simon, Bart and Barr, Pippin
ID Code:986785
Deposited On:25 Nov 2020 16:35
Last Modified:25 Nov 2020 16:35
Related URLs:
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
- Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
Back to top Back to top