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Free For All

January 29th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

The alternate title of this post is “A Few More Word On Why You Should Be Watching eSports”, because there’s a great video out from PCGamer. T.J. Hafer takes five minutes, and gives us some very compelling commentary.

Go watch it. I’ll still be here.


I think it’s a great piece, but I also think that I can give you an even better reason for watching eSports, and the reason is accessibility. If you have an interest in the game, you can go be part of a community with not only people like you, but the competitors themselves, just as soon as you want. You can be part of a group within five minutes of learning about the sport.

The necessity of online gaming is there in its name: online gaming. It must be played on the internet somehow, and the truth of the matter is that the medium on which we play is also the medium on which the whole world communicates. I find this level of possible involvement and global influence in the sport itself fascinating. We can talk to the stars of the show on Reddit, or a blog. We can be part of the community of fans by going to the forums and email lists. We can spectate matches on justin.tv and twitch.tv. Because the sport has to be watched online, where anyone can access it, we create a necessarily large potential fan base. As the internet continues its global spread into our pockets, and the ability to get information spans from the mountain steppes of rural China to the slums of the favelas in Brazil, eSports has a path to be seen by everyone in the world.

The other side to accessibility comes from being on the field, and not just watching from the stands. Combine the following facts: Not only does the action take place behind the mask of a keyboard, but the competitors have such names as Locodoco, Saintvicious, and ZionSpartan. That anonymity creates a Mary Jane effect, where anyone could be playing. All of the time that the players put into this is something that everyone can do. Universal accessibility means that we could aspire to be as good as the pros someday. The characters we see being controlled on the screen could just as easily obey our own commands.

These two facets, universal visibility and unlimited participation, make eSports accessible to anyone and everyone. From a 30 year old woman who has just a passing interest in video games to people who have been playing them since they were 3, any gamer is welcome to come and watch.

And you should.

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  1. Snagger
    January 30th, 2013 at 01:05 | #1

    I think I figured out why I’m hesitant to get into e-sports. It’s not the games themselves, or the online aspect… it’s the players.

    Tycho’s blog entry today (http://www.penny-arcade.com/2013/01/28/trollmax) really solidified my thoughts on the matter.

    Athletes are public figures, and as such are expected to maintain a certain code of conduct. When they don’t, when an athlete shoots himself in the leg or makes a racist remark or tells everyone his imaginary girlfriend is dead, there is usually an uproar.

    Such exceptions are just that.

    In e-sports, it feels like the opposite. The players who exhibit good sportsmanship and decorum are the exception. The rule seems to be intense foul language, jokes and comments that are racist, sexist, and homophobic… these are not the kinds of people I want to invest myself into emotionally.

    There is more to being a sportsman than being skilled. These folks are good at their game, probably better than anyone else in the world… but too few of them are sportsmen. Maybe this will change, but until it does, e-sports are going to remain nothing more than an interesting curiosity in my eyes.

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