I am kind of piggybacking on this topic from John earlier, about how to make gaming a bigger spectator phenomenon. Those are great ways to get eSports a bigger name and to be better recognized if you are already interested or are involved.
For those of you who do not watch any kind of eSports, I would like to convince you to at least give it a try. Just like with watching any sport though, a little effort and time is necessary to gain an understanding of the game.
For example, I hated football for a long time. I hated whenever it was on television or even having to go to some high school game. One year though, I decided to watch a few games and keep asking questions, like why was that flag thrown, etc. Once I had even a basic understanding of the game, I was hooked (Go Vikings by the way).
So into games. Firstly, watching the games is very enjoyable and there is a ton of action going on a lot of the time. One of the hottest games right now is Starcraft II. Starcraft can go a few ways in a game. It can be over very quickly, or it can be drawn out. Either way, a lot of stuff is going on.
Early on there is harassing, which is basically attacking or wasting the opponent’s time having to deal with whatever it is you are doing. The game builds up with these small skirmishes between the smallest units, which can be some of the most tense moments. Participants can easily get an advantage if his/her opponent screws up even slightly. From there it escalates, watching large armies moving across the screen. You get to see massive battles between all kinds of units, like the picture there to the left. How can that sound boring at all?
Secondly, there are great personalities behind every eSport. One of the main jobs in eSports is being a caster. They are the people that give us our play-by-play and analysis during, before, and after a game. There are absolute legends to listen to in any game. Usually finding a caster or set of casters is what fans do because they make the matches enjoyable to watch no matter who is playing.
Starcraft has legends like Day, Tasteless, Artosis, djWHEAT, and many more. Dota 2, for example, has Tobi Wan Kenobi, the most passionate person for a game I have ever listened to. League of Legends has people like Phreak. In every game, there is someone to get behind.
Thirdly, games are relatively easy to learn. The casters I just listed are usually all you need to listen to so that you understand what is going on. They are great at analysis and even if you don’t know the name of a unit, ability, weapon, whatever, the game is easy to follow.
And, if that is not enough for you to learn, there are great resources in every single game to look at so that you can understand what is going on. Every game has an amazing wiki to look at that has a ton of information. There are a ton of guides out there as well that people have written as well as videos to help people learn the game.
Fourthly, the games are always changing. There is always a new strategy, something fresh to look forward to, which is different from traditional sports. You basically know what is going to happen in football and basketball no matter what special defense, offense, etc. they may be using on a particular game.
Games like Starcraft and Dota are totally different. Some of the most memorable moments in the history of the competitive scene have to do with someone bringing out a totally new strategy at a tournament that changes the way the game is played. The game is constantly keeping itself fresh and interesting. We aren’t stuck looking at basic builds and who can pull something off better than the other.
Finally, there is a huge variety of games to watch if you want to. I have mainly focused on RTS type games right now because that is something I enjoy watching greatly and know the most about. There are a lot more than just those that I can list here. There are FPS games to watch, like Quake and Counter Strike, RTS games such as Starcraft II and Warcraft 3, MOBA games giants like Dota 2 and League of Legends. There is a lot of variety even in each genre, so there is literally something for everybody.
I realize now there may be some worry people may have about how the games are watched themselves. Well, eSports have come a long way from their inception. The production value behind a lot of tournaments, especially big name tournaments like MLG, has increased greatly. They look and sound professional.
I hope I somewhat convinced you and I would like to apologize for such a focus on Starcraft II, but that is the one I am most passionate about and could use as an example. Basically anything that I said about Starcraft II specifically can be translated to any other eSport.
One final thing I would like to say is that you do not need to even like to play the game you are watching. I don’t particularly enjoy playing Starcraft at all, but I love to watch it. I think that this is true for any eSport. There are some games that I do play and do watch, like Dota II.
So really, just find something that appeals to you, whether you have played it or not. Hell, it is worth a try even if you haven’t heard of it. A great place to check out some streams for some of the games I have mentioned are right up top on our web page, in the Streams tab.
There is a Starcraft II tournament going on right now, July 21 and 22. It is the MLG Summer Arena, which you can view on our streams page here.