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essays and pithy thoughts

The house commentator

in glhf

Your most valuable product, as a competitive gamer, is your matchplay.

Most gamers don’t realize this. The multi-gaming teams are the furthest from the mark on this, spending most of their efforts on bullshit they have no business doing, like trying to act simultaneously as a community hub, social network, and a Reuters clone for the gaming scene.

Your matches are a raw material that is uniquely yours. It’s the one thing you produce that nobody else can produce an identical copy of. Yet, the most that the vast majority of gaming teams do with it is…

[2:1]…

or [16:11]…

…a single line reporting the result on a website. The more creative sometime use green text for a win, and red for a loss. Wow, thrilling. Hold on, let me catch my breath.

If the point, as I discussed in my previous post, is to get people watching competitive play – then everything you do as a gamer (besides honing your skills) must be towards that end. If not, you’re doing yourself and gaming a great disservice by squandering your most valuable product! It’s not that the above is absolutely wrong to do in some way, when considered in a philosophical vacuum – but if this is all you do with the matches you play, you’re doing absolutely nothing with the most interesting thing you produce.

In this recently-dawned era of the DIY live stream, you no longer have an excuse for not streaming your teams matches. You heard me, no excuse. We need more people watching more esports. You don’t need to wait for another mega-hyped comprehensive shoutcasting network to pop up and fill this void; there’s no time for that, it’s not going to happen, and you can do it yourself anyway. If you’re a team manager, get a damn microphone and get at it. If you’re a solo gamer, get your ass on YouTube and start kibitzing replays of your own stuff.

If you’re not producing matchplay-focused content, you’re not helping.

A live stream doesn’t need to be pro quality to have impact, at this point it just needs to be there. Do you figure folks like Day[9] and Tasteless were immediately commentary gods the instant they sat down at the mic? (Well…as the story goes, that might have been the case for Tasteless, but he’s the exception that proves the rule.) It took me a good six months before I felt really comfortable behind a mic. You’ll never get good if you don’t just get at it.

Start commentating your team’s matches, or find someone who will. If it’s a game that has the luxury of a robust spectator function, put up an audio stream, or do mumble/ventrilo casts for a while. If you have a sufficiently powerful machine, there are programs such as XSplit (still in beta) which can efficiently screencap a windowed game and broadcast a video stream of passable quality on any of the free stream services (you just need an own3d.tv account to download it). When you’re ready to take it a step further, or have a spare box with some horsepower lying around, you can pick up a powerful capture card for $200 or less and put up streams on par with everything else that’s going on currently. There’s no magic, there’s no secrets, there’s no excuses, you just gotta start.

If you’re a solo player, start cutting together some highlight clips. Grab fraps, it’s 35 bucks. Get a YouTube account.

Find a house commentator. They need to be an integral part of your team. It’s the only way to ensure that you don’t continue squandering your matches. Instead of resorting to paraphrasing the other paraphrased gaming news that gets swapped around the scene like a venereal disease, do something that can reach people outside the scene in an immediate, meaningful way.

Readers are good. Watchers are gold.