I’m not mad, just disappointed. I enjoyed my visit to this podcast back a few months ago, when I was treated to a pretty rigorous debate on the subject matter of some of my scribblings. That same challenging spirit wasn’t present this week.
I said it earlier this week, but here it is again: there’s no discernible link between how competitive players treat each other on community hangouts and how fast the audiences around esports will grow. None. If you’re on the TL forums or the like, you’re arguably already in far too deep to be put off by someone trolling you on the basis of your place within the Starcraft caste system. On the other hand, if you’re on the outside looking in, checking out a stream here and there, I can’t imagine that the TL forums or the like are going to be on your radar much at all.
A quick thought experiment: do you feel it’d be a true statement if I said that the majority of [insert sport here] fans don’t participate in [insert same sport here] forums of any sort?
Or perhaps a quick case study: CS:Source. The community around this game is no-tor-ious. But it hasn’t had much of an impact on the community size, with a small margin of error, if we’re being honest. The trajectory of that game has been more to do with the game and engine it’s built on, how 1.6 players took to it (or didn’t) on release, and the massive impact that the CGS had on it a few years back in bringing a metric crapton of new teams in, and then out, of the game. That community has always been more massive than TF2, which has on the whole had a pretty chummy group comprising its community to this point.
Yes, it’s just a microcosm of the larger game community, but it’s a large enough slice to soundly disprove the practicality of the thought that if we simply just be nicer to each other that it will magically spell greater growth.
Furthermore, I’ve yet to see anybody put forth a testable definition of what ‘reaching the mainstream’ will entail. A big part of this is simply intellectual laziness, I feel; meanwhile ‘going mainstream’ is trotted around as the mythical finish line for esports. Don’t look to me to provide it, I’m not interested in this platitude at all, and quite frankly I think it’s esports’ philosopher’s stone.
The only thing that matters is growing the audience size. The tenor of community forums might have a marginal impact on this, but I can’t see a way to justify the claim that it’s singularly holding the entirety of gaming back from reaching a goal that nobody has defined.