eSports 101 Your Guide to Pro Gaming

As I stared at the trail of devastation left on my silver silk satin shirt, I tried to remain sanguine about the situation. I should have known better than to open a bottle of Cherry Perry Lambrini and watch the headline news on my favourite network channel E!. Only moments ago my taste buds were being teased with berry magic, but then the delightful Terrence Jenkins delivered the bombshell news that much to Sir Elton John’s disgust, Dolce and Gabbana were against IVF. Needless to say, I spilled my drink.

Yes, this is relevant to eSports. Just bear with me. (And keep in mind over the next few sentences that I very much wasn’t over my damaged shirt.) The thought popped into my mind that while Sir Elton is making the argument for life being beautiful however it’s made, in the pro gaming world, we’re currently arguing over the perceived ‘organic’ and ‘synthetic’ growth of eSports. Not exactly on the
same level,I know. But we’re talking about a really fancy shirt, here. My mind wasn’t in the right place. Still, it got me thinking about this column.

It appears to be in vogue just now for every new game to have an eSports element toit. Talking heads attached to the project give in-depth interviews to blog sites espousing the wonders of the medium. Phoneys whodon’t even know it. Just more guys among the millions who walk in between greater and bigger people.
For every developer who has tried to cash in on eSports, we have seen a hundred who genuinely love eSports and want to see it grow
‘eSports! We love to Play, Watch, Compete’ they exclaim-or a hundred other words to that effect, backed by a legion of chumps and pompous little men waving the eSports banner with one hand, while slapping each other on the back with the other as if they’ve unlocked the code to greatness.

But wait a minute! Why should we be so cynical? For every developer who has tried to cash in on eSports, we have seen a hundred who genuinely love eSports and want to see it grow. Riot, Activision, Valve and Blizzard to name but a few. We should never forget that features such as Rocket Jumping and Bunny Hopping were actually due to players exploiting bugs in Quakeworld. Nor should we forget that Counter-Strike started life as mod by a bedroom developer. From small things like these, a massive movement can grow.

But equally we shouldn’t forget all the additional applications that used to be required to enjoy eSports like Quakespy (later Gamespy), Mirc or even Voice communication programs. These are no longer required, as developers have integrated them straight into the game. Connectivity has been embraced by developers. And then there are the record viewing numbers we are now seeing due to direct support from videogame companies.

Just like most successful industries in the world, we have now entered a period of time where the small independent guy can come up with a great idea and the developers with the resources can make those ideas and dreams a reality. Whether that’s something that happens organically or is pushed through by publishers looking to tap into a growing community doesn’t really matter.

Now of course along the way we will see fly-by-night charlatans and we will see ideas and games that are way off target, but through it all we will undoubtedly see eSports benefit and grow because of this renewed collaboration between the makers of the games and the fans who love to play and watch them.

Elton was right, it really doesn’t matter how you get there. In the end, eSports will only benefit from the journey.

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