E-Sports. For the past 3-4 years, gaming in the mainstream has surged. For most first world countries, gamers come in more flavors than Baskin and Robins ice cream. In fact, you could probably walk down the street and ask 100 people if they play games, and I betcha a majority of them will say yes. No need to delve into what games, what platform, or how often: All that matters is that they play them.
Ask these same people if they watch E-Sports, however, and most of them will say "Huh?". A select few will say "Hell yea!" Another chunk will probably laugh, saying its just a trend. But is it? Huskystarcraft on youtube recently posted a 40 long minute audio vlog about the evolution of e-sports in 2011 and how he predicts/hopes the rise will be greater in 2012, and I take his side completely on all the topics he touched upon. That is another story for another time, however.
From an e-sport perspective, I do not watch Halo, CoD, BF3, or GoW. My taste lies in Starcraft 2, and although I am not a fan of 2 of the games mentioned, I respect the pros. Why? Because they are damn good at their respective games, thats why! Play against one of them, and you *will* get fucking rolled. These fuckers play their game 8+ hours a day. They travel the world for tournaments, and through success or failure, they get home and keep playing. For a pro gamer, games are not only their life, but their career, something that demands respect.
Gaming has tried on multiple occasions to hit the mainstream competitive scene. Remember Unreal? Of course you do! Street Fighter? Sports games? Racing games? Any genre of game that may include multiplayer of any form has had a competitive scene at some point, even if it was mostly underground. Some played for bragging rights, some played for the money, some played for fun. No matter the motivation, there have been competitions of gaming since the 2nd controller port was invented.
All of the attempts to make it popular, however, failed. G4TV had a show (For the life of me I cannot remember it) for Unreal pros. It was fun to watch from a gamers perspective. We knew what was going on, what the pick ups and weapons were, the general strategies and aspects. But to someone who knew nothing of it, they found it laughable and pathetic. People playing video games as if they were hot shit? Sorry xXDarkxRangerXx, you ain't no Micheal Jordan.
Move over Tebow, God can't save you from a Zerg Swarm, let alone your career when ESPN realizes football is over-rated next to MLG.
There was, however, a light in the darkness. Quite literally, actually. Enter Seoul, Korea. (See what U did thur?)
And then there was Starcraft. A futuristic RTS made by the geniuses behind the all too popular Warcraft series (RIP) that was supported by an online multiplayer capability. While this was introduced with Warcraft 2, the implementation was merely an experiment for what was to come. Starcraft became the hit game of the 90's for the PC gamers who didn't want to play Counter Strike or Unreal. In Korea, Starcraft was more than just a game: It was a lifestyle, and one with high respect even. It was pop-culture for the jungle country, and Starcraft players were celebrities not just for the gamer community like in other first world countries. It became the central hub for Starcraft, so much so that any non-Korean Starcraft player was dubbed a "foreigner".
This was the breakthrough of E-Sports, and since Starcraft, Counter-Strike, and Unreal, the trend has been rising. Not until Halo, CoD, and Starcraft 2 did the scene explode with the force of a nuclear missle.
And now, we are in 2012. Is it the end of the world, or just the beginning of a new one, where athletes are replaced by gamers, as technology has taken the forefront in life over physical activity? Will talk at the office over the game last night be replaced with topics such as "Did you see that sticky? xXDarkxRangerXx got fuckin' ROFLSTOMPED*TM*!" and "Man that flag capture was the game changer. Came outta no where!" I really hope so.
Husky talked about it in his video, but I will reinstate it for those who don't want to sit for 40 minutes listening to him ramble. How can we, the newest community of pseudo-athletes, support the E-Sport movement? Lets go through some options!
Play your game of choice with one objective: Get better. When you are not working, studying, fucking (Yea right), eating, or sleeping, play. Play that game until you need to buy a new copy because your disk is all used up. Watch the matches you played that day at the end of the session if your game allows such things and learn what you did wrong so you can fix the problem. Sign up for cups, use the forums, and scream from the mountain tops that you are a gamer. In the process, all of your friends, family, lovers, co-workers and associates, peers... They will know what you are doing. They will say to themselves "Huh. Wants to go pro? Maybe I should check this out, sounds pretty cool." They will hit up youtube, and give the casters of said game much needed support. That leads me to the next way to support E-Sports.
Yea. Its a big deal.
Watch your game(s) of choice! If you are not a serious player, or if the life-style of a pro isn't what you want, watching is just as important, if not *more* important. What use is having an eclectic blend of players if there is no one to watch them pull crazy shit in-game? Watch with a friend, your partner, family, hell watch with your cat. He doesn't give a shit, as long as you pet him while you watch your favorite player pwning fuckers. Youtube is the best way to watch such events. All the casters have twitters, facebooks, that shit: They will let you know when events are going live on a stream or a cast has been recorded for viewing on youtube. Even if you prefer one caster over another, follow them all! You never know when a crazy event is happening that your favorite isn't covering.
Tell your friends! Shit, if you are a gamer, more than likely your friends are too. Heres an idea: The next time MLG is happening, throw a party not unlike a Super Bowl party. Get refreshments, set up your PC to play on the plasma screen you have going, and watch some fuckin' games! If you have that "reluctant dragon" friend (You know who I'm talking about), get beer. That guy loves beer, and with it, loves everything else. Chances are, after the event, your friends will want to know the next time its happening, and if they don't ask you, they will find out via interwebz, finding even more games to watch, and becoming a fan. The effect will snowball, trust me!
You know people, in game and out of game, that play the same game(s) as you, I know you do. Host a cup! I'll leave prizes up to you, but more than likely people will play even if its just for pride and a fun time. This will get them into the spirit of competitive gaming, and may entice them to refer back to the first suggestion. No matter the contribution, small, large, or even secluded, support for E-Sports is support for E-Sports.
Get on the forums, the chats, skype, whatever, and talk about the game. While no one outside of such things will likely know about the conversation, it gets people pumped, and involved. Again, its a snowball effect. You just watched an amazing play, and so did thousands of other people, you are not alone! Get online and talk about it! This grows: People will start incorporating things like what you just saw and discussed in their gaming, and leads back to Play!, or Watch!, because they want to see it happen again! Remember, not only fans watch, so do the pros. They want to know the leading stratagems even more than you do, trust me.
This ones a bit tougher, but still extremely do able! If you love talking, and have an extreme passion for gaming, this may be for you. Get yourself them FRAPS and cast some games! You don't have to go for a huge fanbase, just have fun! The more and more casters there are, the more and more games are covered, and the more popular this avenue of entertainment will get.
E-Sports is not going to grow on its own, E-Sports *needs* you to get huge! Without the players, the casters, and more importantly, the fans, E-Sports will die again. We have a chance, but you need to get involved. This falls on us all, as gamers, to make sure gaming culture becomes the future of entertainment. As one of my good friends always says:
"Shit doesn't just happen. You've gotta force it."
Pop onto google, and search for your favorite multiplayer game. See if there is anything you can get involved in, even its just spectating. While there are already a few solidified games in E-Sports, it can't hurt to see new games hit the scene. Personally, I would love seeing some pro Pokémon games televised/streamed, it would make my life complete. Youtube is a great place to look, just search your favorite game and voila! You've got instant entertainment.
So here's the deal. After you google shit, share it for others in the comments! Get all of the prospective E-Sport spectators/players/casters something for the new year! Here are a few great places for Starcraft 2, to get the ball rolling!
Husky Starcraft SC2 Casting (Great caster for those new to the SC2 scene!):
Be a voice for change! Support E-Sports!
Day.tv: Be A Better Gamer (A daily educational show on SC2):
Team Liquid: (The Site For Everything SC2):
GSL (Global Starcraft League): A year long tournament in Korea, hosted by 2 VERY popular casters in the scene. The GSL is a huge deal for SC2:
This is just a very small smattering of references for you fine folks. I encourage you to get involved, because whether you know it or not, this is probably the biggest movement in gaming since Pong. For E-Sports to flourish is for gaming as a whole to flourish, and its all up to us, as gamers, to make sure it happens. So hop to it!
Of course, I also would like to state for the record that a Lordi based video game would be great for 2012. Why not have the year of the end of times be represented by those who actually could bring about the end of times?
Best playable characters ever. Brutal Legend? Psh. These guys can kill with rock.
Any argument against Lordi is wrong.