Friday, February 22, 2013

Taking eSports to the next level

When I was a kid, there was one Nintendo, one controller, and two kids. My brother and I were never so different in size or age that one of us could simply bully the other away from the controller, so my formative gaming experience was split into two very distinct memories. There was the half where I got to play games, and there was the half where I just watched someone else play games. This passive experience is treated with the same fondness and nostalgia anyone might have of their childhood memories, so it should have been obvious to me that I’d eventually find and fall in love with e-sports.

I’ll go on record and say I’m still fairly new to the scene. I’m far from the elite who have been following e-sports passionately since Brood War or haven’t missed a single EVO tournament or have a specialty case strictly for hauling their gear to and from LAN events. I say this because I don’t want to imply any bias, my history is still short and I’m more than happy to listen to suggestions. The games I’ve watched are not better than yours, and if I say anything incorrectly or simply wrong, please correct me.

For further clarity, my experience right now is limited to watching games like League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Street Fighter. I would add Super Smash Bros., but I really only liked watching melee games. Even as casual as I am, I still never cared for the tripping mechanic in Brawl.

Now that you know who I am and where I’m coming from, I’m a bit worried about the competition between games. I know it goes hand in hand with a passionate fanbase, but I’d think that it gives a bad impression to not only investors, but also kids and an expanding audience.

My little brother loved shooters of any variety. His love was for the genre, not a particular franchise. That was, until his friends in middle school found out. He couldn’t like Halo and Call of Duty at the same time. One had to be superior to the other, and one had to be terrible. Middle school being what it is, "fitting in" ended up winning over his games. It’s a shame and absolutely ridiculous and as a community we need to stop doing this, too.

As games grow more and more into the mainstream, gamer culture has to grow along with it. We can be mature and still be passionate about our hobby, and even like one game over another, but we can’t keep bullying each other for having different opinions. Granted, a lot of the problem is how the Internet will always spread the most obnoxious voices over reasoned discussions, but for e-sports to grow in the US, it needs a proactive community that won’t stand for unprofessional behavior and incessant bickering. Liking two things at the same time is okay, and liking one thing over the other is okay, too. This is more important than ever because as gaming becomes a bigger and bigger force within pop culture, the social responsibility we have for each other and for everyone else grows too.

Link: Nice History of Video Game Consoles