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Dead, or just in the shadows?

in glhf

@var1ables doesn’t agree with the assessment that @fishstix’s ‘fourth pillar of esports’ has crumbled; instead, he argues that it has simply been eclipsed, perhaps momentarily:

A recent discussion sparked by everyone’s favorite marketing guy @fishstix that the FPS scene has fallen behind or died off completely in terms of the scale of eSports. Now I’m here to tell you why that’s totally fucking wrong.

First, while FPS’s don’t have the most streaming content out there, it still is out there. For CS ESL.tv and some German, Russian and Japanese casters still stream this stuff consistently. Furthermore fishstix’s former company Quakelive.tv streams stuff on a consistent basis.

Now this is FAR, FAR from ideal. We have almost no amateur casters for CS and quake. And we have almost no English casters for CS and quake. Until recently – with the ESEA stream which did fairly well for their first foray into the streaming game – you had to hope that sirscoots, djwheat(which would never happen), or rivington the third would find interest in a match and stream it. And when they did they never really bothered to do commentate in a manner which would be conducive to new players. This seriously hinders the next part of the problem: eSports Efficacy.

Most, not all but most, new people to eSports don’t know a damn thing about the history of it. Shit most people don’t even know how big Starcraft: Brood War was. Whenever i tweet about Team Evil Geniuses – ANY of their branches – people automatically assume I’m talking about their starcraft team. Even prominent moderators(@zlasher) don’t realize that I’m talking about Evil Geniuses’ prestigious Counter-strike team.

This leads to some confusion when the teams and players aren’t properly prefaced with the necessary information to show why this match is important. It doesn’t help much when some streamers – specifically the LiveonThree crew – turn their backs on the game that brought them there and the premier eSports news site – Gotfrag – gets killed by Major league gaming.

The third and most crucial point of the three is the fragmentation of the communities – specifically the CS scene. For the majority of CS’s lifetime there was only one place to go for news, HLTV info, interviews, match reviews and just casual talking – Gotfrag.com. It was the ESPN of eSports, if it was big news – regardless of what game it was – it was on Gotfrag. This allowed for easy access to all games – Quake, DoD, coutner-strike(1.6 and source), Call of Duty, America’s Army, even starcraft and warcraft three had good coverage at gotfrag.

With it’s death the scene fragmented about 5 ways. CS went to HLTV.org and ESEA, Quake went to ESReality, Starcraft went(inb4 it was always there) to gosugamers and team liquid, call of duty went to tek-9 and i have no clue where America’s army DoD and warcraft III went.

Now for the first two i see solutions forming. cArn from fnatic and n0thing from EG are both doing demo reviews – their youtube channels can be found in an early blog – and both are really trying to get more people into counter-strike. Every ESL even seems to have higher and higher quality in terms of broadcaster’s knowledge of the game and their ability to get into the game emotionally. Corey Dunn and jesuit jumped back into the broadcasting scene with ESEA and they attracted a decent crowd in terms of viewers(~6000) for their first time around. The second one seems to be getting better with time, as people watch starcraft they will naturally become interested in the history of the game and the organizations which are supporting it.

However, unless someone wants to offer Sundance a boat load of money for Gotfrag.com or major league gaming actually decides to move out of their comfortable little console world and allow coverage of other games on gotfrag – or even simply funding the coverage in the slightest – I’m almost certain that people will come back and they will get the community’s love again.

However moving to a new game is NOT the solution to any of these problems. It only makes these problems worse. Suggesting that moving to a game – which has no leagues, no sponsors and no long term stability – will actually hinder other things which have separated and made the games themselves interesting.

A prime example of this is the game i come from. Counter-Strike’s 10 year lifespan has allowed a full metagame, styles, and overarching strategy to develop which would not have if it had only been around for 3-4 years. We didn’t even know all the things about a map – like de_nuke – and the gameplay – like crouch hopping – until the middle of 2007.

If we were to adopt every new game that came along – like halo has – we’d have: 1) worse content because the level of strategy and understanding of the game will not be there 2) worse player careers as some players will be force out before their prime 3) an underdeveloped metagame which would hinder the game from being competitive 4) a lack of proper development in terms of player skill as just as the people becoming comfortable and competent with the mechanics of the game they will be force to adapt to the new game which may not play the same as the old one.

However not moving on will also hinder a scene. For example, if the broodwar scene never moved over, we may never have had explosion we are currently experiencing. If the skillset and the feeling for the game can transfer over with minimal interference in terms of changes in maps and gameplay than it should played rather than the old one. The reason source was never really adopted wasn’t because it’s graphics weren’t good, but instead that the gameplay and maps weren’t as fluid and instead of a mere facelife they models and maps were changed to the point which strategies and thought of the original could not change over.

Therefore we SHOULD adopt a new game IF a successor allows for the talents inherent in original game can transfer over, allowing for a smooth transition of talent and metagame from one to the other. New maps, new strategies etc. should come from the community instead of the from it being forced down their throats.

I’ve come to appreciate CS far more lately than I did back when it was The Right Thing to Do For Esports. The release of Brink helped this sentiment along greatly. It’s still the leading game because it puts raw aim and teamwork above all else, including stunning visuals. Will a developer get hip to this thought, or is this notion contradictory to that of selling games in 2011?