Positions - Justin Fowler - Salutogenic Energies

Salutogenic Energies

Justin Fowler

Populous, Esports Stadium Arlington, main stage during a live event, 2018.

November 2019

Texas. Between the Rangers and the Cowboys, the gamers. A classicizing, stone-tiled arcade fronts the otherwise nondescript 80s-era husk of Arlington’s former convention center. Statistically, the attendees who enter this portal skew male and under thirty-five, but their spread on the supposed dedication spectrum, from casuals to hardcore devotees, is less apparent. Among the pros who will compete on its stage, many will have long subjected themselves to the optimization routines of a gymnast or a concert virtuoso with countless hours of daily training, brand maintenance, and the reduction of potential performance disruptions such as interpersonal relationships or leisure activity.1 Re-ritualized bodies as sites of extraction, their performances have value up until the moment they don’t—usually before the age of thirty.2 The game may be Counter-Strike or League of Legends, but the enemies are always burnout and disposability.

New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global Sports assured the city that this would be a win-win: an opportunity to capitalize on the billion-dollar global future of esports and provide an afterlife for 100,000 square feet of conditioned space.3 Following a ten million USD retrofit by Populous Activate, the “brand activation” division of the sports and entertainment design office Populous,4 the newly-branded Esports Stadium Arlington stands largely untouched on the exterior save new signage. The inside has been lightly transformed into a vast black box movie theater with an entry gallery that effectively outfits the business center of a mid-level chain hotel with DXRacer chairs, a wall of merch, and a taut graphic identity that seems made for the lobby backsplash of Omni Consumer Products HQ in a network television reboot of RoboCop. Screens and equipment are the centerpieces, the players on display. Attendees can grab a spot at a PC or console station, hover around players at other stations, watch programming on projector screens, or grab a metal folding chair in the main space to watch pros compete on the stage with their gameplay mirrored on the screens behind, as experts offer real-time commentary in an elevated pen off to the side. Still more can engage remotely with streamed broadcasts. As in high-frequency trading, time lag is the persistent threat. Arlington’s engine for smooth networked gameplay is a one-gigabyte dedicated symmetric line with the capacity for future expansion.5 To the extent that architecture is distinct from theater or infrastructure, it is deferred here.

Populous, Esports Stadium Arlington, gaming center, 2018.

As the head of Populous Activate described on the opening of the Arlington project, the Esports Stadium provides a model for further adaptive reuse projects and “big box store repurposing,” particularly in smaller cities lacking the funding for purpose-built gaming or entertainment arenas.6 In this vision, formalizing the LAN party is an economic land grab and a move to extract value both from existing building stock through its reuse and from play through its institutionalization. Yet, there is still a nod to the social here, an accommodation of the perceived need to gather in place to share in the intoxicating physical performance of virtual struggle, feedback legitimating both the performer and the viewer-who-would-be-performer through mutual recognition and camaraderie. As T.L. Taylor argues in her critical account of the professionalization of gaming, the term “e-sports” itself is “laden” with the “hope” of a niche culture “moving to the mainstream.”7 This fitful transition, however, and the often toxic and misogynistic debates on authenticity and the presumed nature of gaming’s core identity that have accompanied it, suggest a mix of push and pull factors at work in the mainstreaming process whose provisional alliance forms the actual site for Populous’s interventions.

Converting the shells of dead retail giants into physical gaming platforms approaches the kind of degree zero of networked architecture heralded in the familiar images of Reyner Banham and François Dallegret’s Un-house or in Mark Wigley’s narrative portrait of a fetal Bucky Fuller entombed within an hygienic bathroom unit connected to the world via radio antenna.8 It also displays an ambivalent relationship with the ubiquitous “American room,” or the “undecorated slab of beige” that forms the interior backgrounds of so many home-produced YouTube videos, and which has more recently carried over into Twitch streams.9 There, across the mild domestic spaces of an ever-expanding body of content producers, is the formwork for the dissolution of physical architectural exteriority and the wholesale transformation of architecture’s interior mandate. The rigorous training and streamlining of the self, which authors such as Graeme Kirkpatrick argue is essential to the instrumentalized performance of professional gamers, would seem to have little use for the potential distractions of robustly physicalized architectures.10 Yet, the mainstreaming of esports requires negotiations with social and economic actors who are both poised to abandon architectural form and unable to relinquish the legitimating or symbolic function of its physical presence. In other words, the cultural mainstreaming of gaming and the regulated “min/max” ascetic practices of gamer self-streamlining are not always comfortably aligned. The branded supersurface-shed would appear to be almost all right for each of these purposes, but it’s an oddly unsatisfying compromise, being neither a monastic cell nor crystal cathedral.


Enter Populous, again. Only weeks prior to the opening of their Esports Stadium, one of the firm’s global directors, Christopher Lee, presented a variation on its theme at the Wired Live event in London’s Tate Modern. The speculative Gaming House of the Future proposes an iconic, purpose-built “training center” that is at once a space of public gathering and a monumental work of supportive housing that “encourage[s] a healthy work-life balance for the next generation of gamers-turned-esports athletes” through dedicated spaces for “wellness, performance, and living.”11 Inserted within the existing fabric of any chosen city center, the design proceeds skyward from a public, subterranean LED-lined viewing cave to an outdoor skate park and climbing wall to spaces for retail, exhibition, and demonstration competitions before bifurcating into two towers—one equipped with personalized “battle stations” for training and data analysis, a “refueling station” for nutritional meal programs, and a rooftop “mindfulness garden,” and the other with light-bathed luxury apartments, a recreational gaming lounge, and a “healing station.” Presented via a single rendered section perspective and a video that zooms into details of the same, the project is clearly a diagram, but a strangely inflexible one. It offers an image of an “integrated urban realm” or “public interface” around its sculpted perimeter and a nod to adaptive reuse in its casual cannibalization of a handful of existing mid-rise buildings on its city block. But above all, this is a sketch of a refinery.

Populous, Gaming House of the Future, cross section, 2018.

Save the gaming components, the proposal’s programmatic mixture and ritualizing spatial choreography would not be out of place in contemporary healthcare architecture practices or in housing models for addiction recovery or life plan communities for aging populations, both of which are now looking back to the model of the sanatorium and its holistic approach to health as a corrective to postwar biomedical regimes of care.12 Likewise, Aaron Antonovsky’s “salutogenic model,” first proposed in 1979, has become a critical touchtone for practices looking to erode the usual distinctions between illness and health by way of examining how outcomes are produced through the interaction of environmental stressors and personal coping capacities.13 And while fatigue studies and investigations into “the human motor” and “kinaesthetic knowing” were common to physiological study and practices of scientific management at the turn of the last century for purposes of optimization and have had little dormancy within subsequent corporate turns and data mining ventures,14 there have been alternative avenues into the subject. Aimed less at value extraction than facilitating survival, Antonovsky’s medical sociology is one such approach, as is Arline Geronimus’s “weathering hypothesis,” which conveys how socio-economic disparities act as debilitating environmental stressors that unevenly impact the health vulnerability of those in their grip, particularly women of color.15

Many forms of supportive living or choreographed inhabitation are ambiguous assemblages of motives and strategies that are not always in alignment. Class distinctions run throughout. For every cruise-ship-like “life plan” or continuing care retirement community that caters to its residents’ according to their level of buy-in, there are intergenerational community models that frame their aging residents as a “great untapped resource” rather than a financial burden—a captive, lowkey workforce for community organizations and local childcare providers whose continued employment, often on a volunteer basis, can be justified through the health benefits of extended interpersonal interaction.16 The goal here is always to prolong life and maintain a level of quality across inhabitants’ last years, but the conflicting rhetoric and methods of delivery that coalesce under the banner of “health” can belie disparities in self-determination and means-tested conditions on care. Likewise, supportive housing which combines affordable housing with coordinated on-premises wellness services is as much a platform for producing productive workers as it is an unconditional safety net for those most in need of a stabilizing environment. To suggest as much is far less a rebuke to the vital and often brilliant architectures of support—such as Michael Maltzan and Brooks + Scarpa’s work in Los Angeles’s with the Skid Row Housing Trust, or Breaking Ground’s numerous architect collaborations for their projects in New York—than it is a souring on a political economy where matters of personal dignity, privacy, health, and self-worth are so tightly imbricated with one’s capacity for labor that an unconditional ethos of care for the former seems almost unimaginable.

For their part, company towns and paternalistic corporations have long dabbled in the promotion of some version of “healthy” office cultures. The lectores who read aloud from classic novels and newspaper articles to Cuban cigar factory workers as they rolled tobacco leaves in steamy warehouses, the psychiatrist-advisor to the US Olympics Committee who the famed hedge fund manager Steven Cohen hired to coach his traders at SAC to cope with stress,17 and the vegetated atria and bedazzled employee cafeterias which Kevin Roche embedded within urban works like the Ford Foundation headquarters and in his hulking parkland megastructures for companies like Union Carbide and General Foods are replicated by today’s tech startups and giants in everything as seemingly banal as ping-pong tables, pillow-covered seating stairs for social mixing, and nebulous values statements to the potentially more invasive “culture clubs” that mine employees’ social media accounts to identify and respond to shared interests.18 Still, however, labor precarity and high turnover rates disincentivize care or attention to the life course of individual workers. From workplace accessibility and safety to working time limits and other mandated relief, any sense of continuity in labor comes in the hard-fought protections afforded by unions and governmental regulation. Perhaps both more honestly and more cynically, the value-extraction operations of casino environments are relatively agnostic about the overall quality and duration of the lives of those it attracts. Here, the objective is to feed addictions, maximize distractions, and keep moods up and spirits flowing, all in the hopes of dampening gaming performance or prolonging one’s visit to allow enough opportunities for a gambler to dig their own grave. Ride sharing services and other gig-economy hustles often do away with even these niceties, gamifying an atomized work experience that, from the water-bottle-and-AUX-cable-festooned interior of one’s personal vehicle, resembles neither work nor home. So long as you meet or exceed pre-prepared customer expectations and strict company performance metrics, a healthy office culture is whatever you make of it.

Populous, Esports Stadium Arlington, main stage, 2018.


In its brief life, professional gaming has often embraced some of the more atomizing environments and peripherals from the arsenal of interiorized work such as the factory floor, the cubicle, the vehicle, and the over-ear headset. In Korea, where esports have thrived, professional teams migrate from arenas and cubicle-filled training rooms to simple dormitories in a familiar routine while casual players populate elaborate computer labs, or PC Bangs, in otherwise anonymous spaces in cities throughout the country.19 Addiction and fatigue are serious concerns, the dangers of which pros are often better equipped to handle by way of their support systems and their more clear-eyed view into the practice of gaming as work. Still, the intense and often thrilling insider nature of the work and the social effects of working in a closed ecosystem with trainers and other high-performance actors toward measurable objectives before a growing cohort of diehard fans invites both behavioral and substance abuses on top of general employment precarity and often systemic exploitation. Such are the attitudes, structures, and risks Populous aims to negotiate through architectural form with its Gaming House of the Future, yet its strategies are necessarily conservative. Fully absorbed in the machinations of work, entertainment, and sport, Populous’s approach is one which acknowledges that peak performance demands both an uninterrupted sense of being “inside” or “on,” as well as the provision of temporary respite from within the same engine or atmosphere of experience.

At issue here is the way in which stressors can be relieved within the closed ecosystem of a theater of operations. Studies have found that a common source of stress for combat drone pilots comes in the disconnect between their eight-hour shifts, piloting missions in remote parts of the world from makeshift virtual cockpits in windowless rooms on bases in Virginia or Nevada, and the home lives to which they return each day. Unlike with many of their counterparts in the armed services who might deploy overseas for months at a time, allowing for a measure of psychological and physiological continuity, drone pilots experience a syncopated rhythm of intense experiential disruptions through their daily “commute” to the battlefield that oscillates between sustained, if mediated, intimacy with their potential targets and the interpersonal immediacy of family and friends, with little opportunity for adjustment.20 The combined temporal and spatial proximity between two very different kinds of “being inside” render each a stranger to the other, demanding, at one register, an accommodation of the performance issues and side effects effected by the split, and at another, a reckoning with the more expansive environment that supports the practice of remote killing itself. Relative to the moral imperative of the latter, the task of the former may seem perverse, but its implications are a constant source of study and debate. This is the case not only with respect to the physiological health of drone pilots and that of other high-performance actors such as pro gamers, but also for the rehabilitation of more precarious persons who might require personalized support infrastructures capable of delivering both privacy and social interaction in the needed proportions.

And, while game violence is simulated and the stakes of gameplay less traumatic than those of UAV operations, the crucible of each performance produces a range of desires toward being inside or on duty, from immersion to relief, and as with PTSD, the threat of physical or psychological eruptions of violence spilling over into “real” life are ever-present concerns, as are disruptions in bodily health. The casual gamer who might view gaming as a release from the pressures of real life is mirrored by the pro gamer who views real life as a distraction from a more real gaming life. One particularly charged example is that of a former esports star who blamed a bout of poor performance in 2017 on having “indulge[d] in sensual pleasures for a while,” and vowed to adopt a “more abstinent lifestyle” in response.21 Shortly thereafter, he was arrested and suspended from professional play following a livestreamed gaming session that captured him attacking and threatening to kill his girlfriend.22 Attempting to isolate the causal role of esports practices here from a panoply of environmental stressors and behavioral factors would be difficult, though perhaps not impossible, but would also be largely misguided if the aim were to transform a structure that conceived of performance pressures as acceptable risks or spillover effects to be mitigated from within the narrow confines between isolated, interiorized “real-life” environments.

Populous, Esports Stadium Arlington, player lounge, 2018.


What Populous’s speculative esports training facility arguably gets right is its holistic consideration of physical and virtual worlds within a single framework. Yet, in an historical moment where work has colonized nearly all aspects of life, the rigid and straightforward aesthetic reconstitution of a split between performance and downtime in the form of forking towers is at best a retroactive act of resistance or mitigation and at worst a self-serving fiction akin to embracing “clean coal” rather than pursuing alternatives to a destructive practice. The only version of health that is of any use here is one that supports player performance, a decline in which is easily observable from within the confines of competitive gameplay. For the structure not to collapse with an eroding sponsorship base, an under-performing player must be ejected or recycled into a commentator or shoutcaster—adaptive reuse as continuing care within a purpose-built device.

Philip Rieff, the Freud scholar and melancholic narrator of social discontent, suggests as much in his thesis on the emergence of “psychological man” and an ethos of risk management following the erosion of sacred norms that were once supposed to have animated the various structures of social order throughout history. Though his criticism was decidedly moralistic in its railing against what he would later term the “deathworks” of “anti-culture,” Rieff’s early observation on the environments likely to be occupied by his imagined wellness junkies is useful to revisit. As he argued in his 1966 book, The Triumph of the Therapeutic: “I expect that modern society will mount psychodramas far more frequently than its ancestors mounted miracle plays, with patient-analysts acting out their inner lives, after which they could extemporize the final act as interpretation. We shall even institutionalize in the hospital-theater the Verfremdungseffekt, with the therapeutic triumphantly enacting his own discovered will.”23

Here, the metaphorical building type or literal device of the “hospital-theater” would be a machine of alienation, facilitating a recurring process of subject performance, self-fashioning, brand maintenance, exhaustion, and finally return as an interpreter of the process itself. For Rieff, this was something of an inevitable nightmare where a theater for performance mutated seamlessly into performance theater. In pursuit of the “experimental life,” culture would come to be regarded as therapy, “realizable in part because of the increasing automaticity of the productive system.” Yet, as Rieff noted, “without the discipline of work, a vast re-ritualization of social life will probably occur, to contain aggression in a steady state and maintain necessary levels of attention to activity.”24 As Populous’s gaming house suggests, however, the discipline of work has continued unabated and become creatively more pervasive even as—suspending for the moment the very real demands of global warming and the persistence of personal maintenance regimes assumed to mitigate racialized and gendered scrutiny—its necessity for purposes of survival disappeared. Having reached a place of abundance where work could be decoupled from quality of life, dignity, and health, its logics have been permitted to colonize every aspect of waking life, with the colonization of sleep being the final frontier.25

“Anthropotechnics” has become a kind of shorthand for the range of habit-formation practices that can serve alternately as a vehicle for continued colonization or potential structural refashioning in the name of resistance or wholesale transformation. Peter Sloterdijk’s use of the term emerges from a line of inquiry not dissimilar from Rieff’s concerning the forms religion takes after its nominal end. Sloterdijk analyses the afterlives of ascetic practices through a Nietzschean filter, where denial is a form of strength training. Sport, or more specifically, acrobatics, here contains the logic of religious practice. As he writes:

Through its de-spiritualization, the Olympic movement of the twentieth century shows how a “religion” can spontaneously regress to the format of its true substance—the anthropotechnic basis, as embodied by a graduated system of exercises and diversified disciplines, integrated into a superstructure of hierarchized administrative acts, routinized club relationships and professionalized media representations. None of the structural characteristics of an elaborated “religion” remain except for the hierarchy of functionaries and a system of exercises that, in keeping with their secular nature, are referred to as “training units.”26

Where Rieff lamented a loss in the “vertical-in-authority” of sacred life, Sloterdijk sees in the figure of the acrobat a vehicle for the achievement of a kind of secular verticality—ascent or height differentiation without political domination—in his “call to mind anew all those forms of the practicing life that continue to release salutogenic energies, even where the over-elevations to metaphysical revolutions in which they were initially bound up have crumbled.”27 While Sloterdijk’s diagnosis of social cravings for verticality might appear nebulous, it is clear that this is exactly the sort of attitude that Populous is responding to by seemingly tossing aside the potential richness of the convention center reuse strategy in favor of a speculative model for a new-construction complex that rejects horizontality almost entirely, preferring both to elevate its player-inhabitants and to bury their viewers in a baroque sequence of spaces served by a funicular lift.

Populous, Esports Stadium Arlington, team room, 2018.


As its designers perhaps intuit, it is a strange thing to be romanticizing violent on-screen domination in first-person shooters and battle arena games while seated in an ersatz factory or shelter facility. Built verticality legitimizes the esports enterprise IRL, but it also performs a more tendentious routine of colonization and displacement whereby “esports” comes to represent the entire field of “gaming” by assuming its name and identity and silencing alternative currents in virtual gameplay, storytelling, and environment-building. “The” Gaming House of the Future, then, comes to resemble as much a signal of gaming’s mainstreaming as it is a familiar distraction from the work of solidifying and integrating its practices with those extrinsic to its former subculture.

That the latter is in fact a critical feature of the project can be gleaned from Populous’s work with more traditional sporting ventures, such as their Sports Illustrated-commissioned proposals imagining the future of stadium experiences for professional baseball (2014) and the National Football League (2015). In the former project, titled Living Park, Populous designers—including Brian Mirakian, the project lead for the Esports Stadium Arlington—proposed a venue in the form of a linear park that merged seamlessly into the urban landscape, abandoning building enclosure in favor of more intimate forms of virtual enclosure via augmented view screens, intended to both mimic and exceed the home-viewing experience in its combination with the sensory pleasures afforded by immediacy and shared proximity to the event.28 In the firm’s football stadium proposal the following year, Populous argued for the emergence of a distributed network of “remote live sites” offering holographic projections and immersive VR experiences along with the usual televised displays. They also claimed that the single-purpose megastadium would become a thing of the past, giving way to multi-use complexes that could be used year-round for other commercial and entertainment purposes. The core venue itself would dissolve into a constellation of distinct neighborhood experiences and individualized viewpoints onto the game, blurring the line between viewer and participant. By early 2018, however, in their National Geographic-commissioned “Stadium of Tomorrow,” the horizontal had already started to give way in favor of elaborate rooftop gardens with wind turbines and rainwater collection features to customizable LED playing fields that offered fans the option of viewing games from beneath after having entered the stadium via an underwater access tunnel, all presented in a familiar rendered section perspective.

Sloterdijk might read the shift in speculative directionality from quasi-social horizontality in Populous’s 2014 and 2015 proposals to the quasi-social verticality of 2018’s Stadium of Tomorrow and Gaming House of the Future as symptomatic of a desire to flee from boredom through cyclical refashioning. As he ends his 2009 meditation on anthropotechnics, You Must Change Your Life: “Old forms must be tested for reusability and new forms invented. Another cycle of secessions may begin in order to lead humans out once again—if not out of the world, then at least out of dullness, dejection and obsession, but above all out of banality…”29 It’s a curiously mixed formulation, especially since the sort of rewiring the anthropotechnic gambit relies upon is driven in large part on the channeling of obsession into rigorous embodied practices. Gaming encompasses many such practices, yet imported sporting architectures seem poised to obstruct the experiment, amplifying voices that have rarely known silence and proffering familiar and perhaps intractably combative cravings as the only ones worth attending to. Recalling Sloterdijk, as well as the work of Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison on “epistemic virtues,” historian of science John Tresch examines this difficulty in his recent call for new monastic forms:

The pursuit of such inquiries into the anthropotechniques of scientific knowledge could give us a grip on a crucial strand in the contemporary technosphere—one which we must grasp in order to have any hope of unraveling its current state, or of re-weaving it into less self-destructive forms. In broader terms, the question is something like this: Through what techniques and disciplinary kits have humans produced the kinds of people capable of making scientific discoveries and technological innovations, of building on past discoveries and pushing them farther, of instituting them and extending them until they form the net of facticity and technical control which now seems inescapable?30

Were they so inclined, gamer-acrobats may break through the structures of late capitalism through shear force of will, but financial precarity, induced fatigue, aging, and the palliative, reformist conceits of tailored wellness regimes combine to make that a difficult bet. Absent an animating vision for a compelling alternative to existing routines, extended practice within familiar channels is no more likely to induce change than a program of scattershot disruption.

As theorists such as Johan Huizinga and Roger Caillois have argued, the unproductive and unattached quality of play always seems to hold out a promise of inaugurating new forms of living. Constant Nieuwenhuys’s platform for the free exercise of the creative energies of “Homo Ludens” was a noted experiment in this vein, but its aimlessness was always a risk if survival could not be completely decoupled from the need for some form of utility. In gaming there remains room for both disinterested forms of play (or research) and zero-sum competitions, but also for decidedly interested and instrumental experiments of other sorts, as with “walking simulators” such as Gone Home (2013) and Firewatch (2016) or works such as Never Alone (2014) that train the attention toward other “worlding practices” or different modes of experience or organized action.31 As Pippin Barr argues with respect to his efforts toward this sort of intentionality with his 2015 game, A Series of Gunshots, “a key role offered by the rewards in traditional videogame designs is to validate our actions… A skilled player of Counterstrike: Global Offensive (2012) can perhaps abstract the violence of killing terrorists (or counter-terrorists) into its angles, geometries, and timing, but the player of A Series of Gunshots must sit alone with the act itself.”32 This desire to rewire structures of thought through gameplay design is far from novel, but it remains a precarious space, threatened, on the one hand, by toxic attitudes within some gaming monocultures themselves that resist the inclusive aspects of mainstreaming, and on the other, by proposals such as the Gaming House of the Future, that would deny the place of such games in defining the mainstream—or in dissolving the concept altogether—in favor of exclusively validating the productive, exhilarating, and exploitable behaviors associated with esports.

Architecture’s role here in shaping habit formation is far from precise, but this is not evidence of its uselessness. The fact remains that environmental stressors can be identified and relieved, however imperfectly. Supportive forms and spaces can put a wrench in mimetic social processes or the synchronization of related physiological pressures that, if left unchecked, would cascade toward morbidity. For the program of gaming, a tangible first step would be to leverage the field’s intensive sense of interiority through adaptive reuse projects like Esports Stadium Arlington rather than proposing elaborate forms of new construction that are likely dead-on-arrival relative to the speed of technological developments and audience growth, and only further accelerate the wasteful practices that fuel global warming. With an obligation to take seriously our places in a shared, but unevenly provisioned and experienced global interior, the practices of gaming have a role in preparing us for and shaping the sort of lives and spaces we might expect to inhabit in the years to come.

One could look to the flickering screens in a reused convention center in Arlington and rightly intuit that “this is what extinction feels like from the inside,” as submission to a fate of variably apportioned and appointed big box shelters by those who once played as masters of the great outdoors or who were long forced to indulge those who did.33 So absorbed, designers and players might instead adopt a level of political intentionality in their explorations of interior “subscendence,” facilitating nested engagements among physical and virtual forms that could have little to do with existing languages of production, performance, conflict, excitement, or interest.34 Gaming might then emerge as a vehicle capable of interiorizing its own externalities, taking the trouble of its salutogenic energies as well as the proliferative, embodied energy footprint of its enabling technologies into itself as both an objective and a home to be dissolved.35 In here, talk of austerity would ring hollow.


Tom Brock, “Roger Caillois and E-Sports: On the Problems of Treating Play as Work,” Games and Culture, Vol. 12, No. 4 (2017): 333.


“Why Do Esports Pros Retire So Young and What Can They Do Next?” ENUK, Esports News UK, June 26, 2015, .


O.K. Carter, “Arlington is betting on esports to add to the draw,” Fort Worth Business Press, November 17, 2018, ; and Matt Perez, “Report: E-Sports to Grow Substantially and Near Billion-Dollar Revenues in 2018,” Forbes, February 21, 2018, .


With headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, Populous was formed in 2009 through a management buyout of HOK Sport Venue Event, a member of HOK Group Inc.


Mitch Reames, “What Sets Dedicated Esports Arenas Apart from Traditional Stadiums,” SportTechie, August 24, 2018, .


Patrick Sisson, “Esports’s Rise, and Hunger for Stadiums, Points to Adaptive Reuse Potential,” Curbed, June 28, 2018, .


T. L. Taylor, Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012), 243.


See: Mark Wigley, Buckminster Fuller Inc.: Architecture in the Age of Radio (Zürich: Lars Müller Publishers, 2015).


Paul Ford, “The American Room,” Medium (The Message), July 30, 2014, .


Brock, 333; and Graeme Kirkpatrick, Computer Games and the Social Imaginary (Cambridge: Polity, 2013).


“Populous Designs the Gaming House of the Future,” November 1, 2018, .


See, for example, essays in the recent special issue of Architectural Design on “Design for Health,” (ed. Terri Peters) such as: Corbett Lyon, “Humanist Principles, Sustainable Design and Salutogenics,” Architectural Design (2017).


See: Aaron Antonovsky, Health, Stress, and Coping (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1979); and Antonovsky, “The Salutogenic Model as a Theory to Guide Health Promotion,” Health Promotion International, Vol. 11, No. 1 (1996): pp. 11–18.


See Anson Rabinbach, The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity (New York: Basic Books, 1990); Zeynep Çelik Alexander, Kinaesthetic Knowing: Aesthetics, Epistemology, Modern Design (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017).


See: Arline T. Geronimus, “‘Weathering’ and Age Patterns of Allostatic Load Scores Among Blacks and Whites in the United States,” American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 96, No. 5 (May 2006); and Jason Corburn, Healthy City Planning: From Neighborhood to National Health Equity (New York: Routledge, 2013).


Linda P. Fried qtd. In David J. Craig, “The Science of Healthy Aging,” Columbia Magazine (Winter 2018), .


“Ari Kiev, Psychiatrist to Traders, Dies,” New York Times, Dealbook, November 30, 2009, .


“An Inside Look at Pinterest’s Creative Culture,” Highfive, .


Dave Lee, “The Real Scars of Korean Gaming,” BBC News, June 5, 2015, .


See: Cherie Armour and Jana Ross, “The Health and Well-Being of Military Drone Operators and Intelligence Analysts: A Systematic Review,” Military Psychology, Vol. 29, Issue 2 (2017): pp. 83-98; Sarah McCammon, “The Warfare May Be Remote But The Trauma Is Real,” NPR, “All Things Considered,” April 24, 2017, ; and Dan Gettinger, “Training Drone Pilots,” Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, June 29, 2015, .


Eric Van Allen, “League of Legends Pro Attributes Poor Performance to Indulging ‘Sensual Pleasures,’” Kotaku, August 11, 2017, .


“Chinese LoL Pro Vasilii Beats Girlfriend Whilst Streaming and Gets Arrested,” Dexerto, October 26, 2017, .


Philip Rieff, The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith After Freud {1966} (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987), 26.


Rieff, 26, 27.


See: Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (New York: Verso, 2013); and Anne Helen Petersen, “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation,” Buzzfeed, January 5, 2019, .


Peter Sloterdijk, You Must Change Your Life: On Anthropotechnics {2009}, trans. Wieland Hoban (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), 94.


Sloterdijk, 441.


Tim Newcomb, “Introducing Populous’ Living Park, an exclusive baseball stadium for the future,” Sports Illustrated, March 13, 2014, .


Sloterdijk, 441.


John Tresch, “Anthropotechnics for the Anthropocene,” Technosphere Magazine (November 2016), .


See Donna Haraway’s discussion of Never Alone in Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), 86–89.


Pippin Barr, “Consider the Gunshot,” in Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, ed. Marie Foulston and Kristian Volsing (London: V&A Publishing, 2018), 84, 87.


The Editors, “The Best of a Bad Situation,” N+1, Issue 33, “Overtime” (Winter 2019), .


See: Timothy Morton, Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People (New York: Verso, 2017); and Morton, “Subscendence,” e-flux, Journal No. 85 (October 2017), . For a recent discussion toward reworking habits of attention from within architecture, see: Andrew Atwood, Not Interesting: On the Limits of Criticism in Architecture (Applied Research and Design Publishing, 2018).


See: Haraway. Lewis Gordon, “Gaming’s Climate Dread in a 4K Streaming Ecosystem,” Vice, June 21, 2019, .

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Justin Fowler is Director of the Portland Architecture Program at the University of Oregon School of Architecture & Environment, and a PhD Candidate at the Princeton University School of Architecture.


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