This week, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the earliest eSports moments, before Faker was a god, before League was even a thing, even before Starcraft was even conceived of. A time of arcade machines, the Red Scare, and the aftermath of the Civil Right’s movement. Enter 1972, a time of the American dream, the Vietnam War/conscientious objectors, and Disco. Video games are becoming a new form of entertainment, much to the chagrin of the conservative populace. Video games were primarily played as university or corporate side projects, and consumer video games were quite a ways away. Home consoles had only just started showing up on the market earlier this year. 45 years, 2 weeks, and 3 days ago, on October 19th, the first recorded/known eSports tournament took place.
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Game Knowledge refers to the mental interactions and experiences between the player and the game. Knowing cooldowns, what items to buy, where to go, your role, what everything does, etc. is game knowledge. Intuition refers to the utilization and practice of game knowledge in gaining an advantage, usually predicting an opponents move, knowing their power spikes and strengths or weaknesses. Intuition allows players to make plays without necessarily having the skill to pull them off by analyzing patterns and coming up with a strategic plan. It might refer to having a point and click(low skill/interaction), but extremely powerful ability that must be timed appropriately in a fight, but otherwise be useless if used incorrectly.
Skill (often called ‘mechanics’) refers to the physical interactions and experiences between the player and the game. Being able to aim correctly, react to/dodge opponents moves, land certain abilities, and quickly outplay opponents are all parts of skill. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1, Communication basics here.
Just like with traditional sports, eSports are played on a specific playing field that players are confined to. Some maps do this with invisible/impassable walls, and others with cliffs or insta-death locations. Games have very defined out of bounds areas due to the nature of video games, which means there’s no need for out of bounds rules that traditional sports like soccer or American football utilize. If players find a way to exit out of these zones, more often than not, they’ll fall through the map eternally, resulting in many games using a death floor in order to prevent infinite falls/loops. Competitive games are usually in a state of “perpetual beta” much like internet browsers are, constantly evolving and changing to meet the needs of the fan base.
Part 2: Knowing your playing field here.
Unfortunately for the introverts out there, communication is an absolute must in team oriented competitive games(which are often the biggest eSports due to the dynamism provided from having multiple players working in conjunction). While there are certainly games that don’t require having a partner/teammates such as real time strategy(RTS) games like Starcraft, fighting games like Street Fighter/SSB Melee, or even speed-running, most big eSports titles will involve communication in some way. Most professional teams in eSports are starting to adopt coaches to make communication as efficient as it can be. South Korea has a leg up on the rest of the world in this regard. Their background in eSports from the Starcraft era, along with their infrastructure and cultural appeal for eSports, has come to fruition in the modern day.
So what is communication?
While competitively playing is all well and good, nothing beats playing games casually with friends. Whether you meet them online because they were a cool person in-game, or you just play with your real life friends to keep in touch when you can’t make plans, casual gaming is an extremely important part of the development of the digital and electronic market and, by extension, eSports. As such, games that focus on the casual market and have enough content to keep them interested(whether through DLC, updates, bug fixes, new characters, artwork, videos, community interactions, etc) tend to do quite well in the digital age.
What are eSports (also written e-Sports, or electronic Sports) you might ask? In a nutshell, eSports refers to competitive video gaming. While many would agree this simple description doesn’t even scratch the surface, we’ll begin with using that for the purposes of this blog.