For the first 20 or so years of my life I have always considered myself to be a true gamer, however it’s only since the last 2-3 years I can truly support this statement with the upmost confidence. This was the time I was introduced to the glorious scene of E-Sports entertainment. This however doesn’t mean to say I do not believe, and nor should you, that you are not ‘proper’ gamer simply because you do not follow the pro-circuit as I have come to. It is evident that a vast majority of the gaming community is unaware of the benefits of the competitive scene due to the rate the spectator numbers are increasing. And so I write this article as an invitation for you to share what I can assure will become a lifelong passion.
So first of all, what is E-sports? well we can define sports as ‘a Physical exertion in which an individual or team competes against others for entertainment’. Ok simple enough, and although many will argue that playing a video game isn’t physical exercise, try telling this to a professional Starcraft 2 player spending 7 – 12 hours a day, practising at over 200 actions per minute. I can guarantee the response wouldn’t even be suitable for a 12a film, and let’s face it, that really is saying something these days. And so now for the E. Well I’m sure you can already guess what this little guy stands for, and with this we can create our own definition… or just Google one of course. ‘Electronic Sports, abbreviated E-Sports is used as a general term to describe the play of video games competitively’.
Now admittedly this does sound a little straight forward, and quite honestly boring, so perhaps I should provide you with a comparison. Take a football fan sitting amongst the crowd of burly beer louts nervously awaiting his team to successfully place the ball between those pale posts of victory. It happens. The screams of the fans erupt, and they immediately begin to jump in harmony whilst flailing their arms uncontrollably, and all the while Martin Tyler bellows what seems to be a never ending gooooaaal!! Now let’s replace these surroundings with a more entertaining scene. First of all remove the louts and add hundreds of people just like you and me, well, nerds. Then, instead of the open cold stadium, with the little plastic red chairs which amazingly seem to withstand any weight, and add a huge, warm and enclosed building sporting a large stage with the biggest screen you can imagine set parallel to adequate seating. The players are sat nervously in little sound proof booths at either end of the stage with cameras dawning on them to provide us all with a close up of their anxious faces rather than trying to read the number on their shirt just to ascertain who it even is.
Then it happens, and this is the most glorious part, it happens. You are the person who gets to decide exactly what ‘it’ is. This could of been a clutch bomb defuse for the last man fighting in the deciding round of a COD tournament final, a no-scoped headshot for the win during a small online qualifier for counterstrike, or even the gory finishing move following a flawless victory between two rival Mortal Kombat players. All the while you can replace old Martin for a fresh faced commentator screaming something along the lines of “Oh my god the banelings!!! So many banelings!!!!”.
And at this point when your new champion emerges from their glass case of emotion, music erupts in order to commence the onslaught of cheers and applause for their new victor, who (surprisingly more often than not) will begin to dance like no other rhythmically challenged man, and graciously drink in the atmosphere and release his final cheer with a stern fist pump. Then to conclude this excitement the young player is rewarded a large cardboard cheque for a vast sum of money, who is forced to hold back their tears whilst we all admire the deep look of relief, and gratitude upon their face, perhaps just like this clip of Mousesports’ Thorzain winning the latest Dreamhack Open: Stokholm.
Now this alone sets the difference between E-Sports and any other sport for me, but perhaps you are not convinced. So let us continue and delve a little further and search for what else this community has to offer. As I mentioned above the spectator numbers for tournaments and player streams has increased at an impressive rate over the past few years and this is simply due to the ease of access to all that’s to offer with the available technology. Gone are the days where you would need to either attend an event, or await a crummy video to be uploaded to YouTube to catch a glimpse of what you have missed. Sites such as Justin.tv, and Twitch.tv allow our favourite pro’s to stream hours of gameplay for all their fans to view live, all the while interacting with the viewers to truly deepen our loyalty to maximise their advertisement revenue, and increase their publicity. This also stands true for the small or large tournament organisers who can extend their reach to the entire world with the click of a simple hyperlink. With this you can guarantee somewhere not too hard to find, is satisfying and engaging E-sports entertainment across all platforms and games.
So we have ticked the boxes for viewing pleasure and availability, but perhaps you prefer to engage in the more common sporting activities for the social aspect, and surely being sat in the comfort of your own computer chair watching little virtual men kick a pixel around a field leaves you as a slight recluse. Well get out of your chair then. E-Sports, just like most others, has a huge range in age demographics so get out there and enjoy this together. I recently attended the Manchester Barcraft and thoroughly enjoyed the Starcraft 2 action from MLG Anaheim. The crowd was like no bar I have ever experienced and they became more and more engaged the later the night went on, growing ever so closely towards that all important final match. This also included mass games of Fifa 2012 during the down time between games, which I can assure make for great drinking games, but can also get a little messy.
Now of course as this is online gaming we are talking about, the main body of the community lies within the vast space that is the internet. With websites available such as Reddit, and dedicated community forums, it’s oh so easy to get caught up in the never ending debates, personal blogs, and comical videos, and being able to really interact in such ways brings a whole new level of engagement, thus allowing you to gain a much greater sense of almost friendship with the personalities that will really grow on you. Being able to simply chat with your favourite player as they stream practice games, or just following their tournament progress through their Twitter and Facebook really makes your support feel worthwhile as you always receive a response of gratitude back in some form.
As with any sport, E-sports comes with its own drama, stories, and a constant stream of news updates.
Now of course as mentioned above all of this is easily accessible via numerous methods but I hope your preferred method from now will lie with me. From here on you will be able to visit The Gamer Scene and read my weekly E-sports news updates, event write ups, and hopefully you will enjoy the tales of my own experiences along the way. Perhaps you’ll even share them with me, but please don’t wait for me, go ahead and jump straight in. Check out the details below of some of the soon to come events and just give them a try. With that, I personally invite you to join the millions of gamers within the greatest community there is. Welcome to the world of E-sports!
29th June – 1st July :
Starcraft 2 WCS United Kingdom Nationals
6th July – 8th July:
Identity Event – featuring COD4, LOL, CS:GO, BF3