Honestly, vitriol towards newbies is the least of esports’ problems.
No, I’m not rank C or in Bronze league, nor do I spend a lot of time complaining about balance or posting balance suggestions in forums. But spend a few days on GameFAQs, TeamLiquid, Steam Powered User Forums, or anywhere with a budding competitive gaming community, and you’ll quickly learn that players who aren’t in the top 2% of the skill curve aren’t welcome at the discussion table.
Look, I get it. I know that someone who doesn’t make SCVs past the 5 minute mark is terrible. I understand that a player who doesn’t even know MK9 has a block button probably isn’t too well educated about meter management. I understand why these players’ opinions aren’t strategically sound. But for fuck’s sake, maybe we could all be a little nicer about it?
When low-tier players jump into forums or onto streams and talk about the game, sure they’re misinformed. But if proponents of e-sports and competitive gaming want their hobby to become slightly more publicly acceptable than pissing in grandma’s garden in broad daylight, they’re going to have to play nice with the newbies. Think about the rest of the world for a minute. Ever go to a sports bar on Super Bowl Sunday, or sit around talking football with your cousins at a barbeque? Ten dollars says conversations like this don’t pop up very fucking often:
“Did you see that pass? Manning is amazing! I can’t believe that play isn’t more popular at the 40.”
“Dude, shut the fuck up. Have you ever played football competitively? Even in the minor leagues? I bet you didn’t even play on the high school team.”
“What does that have to do with anyth-”
“Yeah I didn’t think so, you fuckin scrub.”
Is this really something that’s unique and pandemic to competitive gaming alone? People shitting on other people on a forum for little reason other than unfamiliarity with each other is a core tenant of the internet, and has very little to do with the ‘mainstream viability’ of gaming…y’know…whatever that’s worth.
Taking the advice that we should all just breath deep, lay back, and think of esports is fine in principle, but it’s voodoo to think that will all of a sudden solve gaming’s core business problems.
Hell, half the world’s soccer fans can’t afford three meals a day, nevermind spare the energy to insult one another over what constitutes perfect goalkeeping. Yet despite the fanbases of these sports being almost universally non-competitive (or even non participating) audience members, sports are incredibly popular, if you haven’t realized. Maybe part of that is that they’ve been around longer, but I’d bet part of it is that the average viewer is allowed to share his or her opinion without getting publicly humiliated by everyone in hearing distance.
Not to get on the wrong side of this guy’s thesis, but he might want to talk to a soccer fan sometime. Just sayin. The empirical evidence will suggest otherwise. They might be a bit nicer about telling you that you’re a fucking idiot if you say something ridiculous, but that’s more a function of not wanting to start a fistfight; such concerns don’t factor in on the TL forums. The medium IS the message, and the universal message of internet forums is: piss off.
The growth of gaming has more to do with quality opportunities to watch high-level play, and developing an equitable business model for more teams than just a handful, than it does trying to make sure that the community hangouts are full of warm fuzzies.