There’s nothing quite like sitting smack dab in the middle of a live event. During BlizzCon in 2010 and 2011, I sat in the midst of thousands of roaring fans watching the Starcraft and Warcraft tournaments. I remember feeling as though the convention center itself might shake from our clapping and cheering. The crowds were relentless! People kept shouting, moving in and out of their seats, popping in and out of my periphery. I could see the projection screens and flashing cameras, and heard the tangle of high and low voices. The fans were cumbersome. Between the gasping, the sudden boos and cheers, and the ardent clapping, it felt equally as epic as the SuperBowl or any UFC match. But when comparing mainstream televised sports with e-sports, I couldn’t help but be bothered by how many people are still unfamiliar with these incredible events—the events of pro-gaming.
Whether we’re watching the best golfers play the Masters tournament or the best fighters on UFC, being a part of these live events is electrifying. So, with all the support from fans around the world for games like League of Legends, Starcraft, Halo, and Call of Duty, how can we get more mainstream television channels to broadcast pro gaming tournaments? Obviously pro-gaming doesn’t need mainstream television exposure to be successful, but how cool would it be if people who would never normally be exposed to pro-gaming got to witness professional gamers the way we (players and those “in the know”) do. Just yesterday, I had conversations with several parents and grandparents who still had no idea that pro-gaming exists, and knew nothing about how many opportunities are exploding for viable careers in gaming. If we can get more mainstream exposure for gaming tournaments, parents and grandparents could see the evolution of our beloved e-sports. There have been competitions for over 30 years dating back to the Space Invaders tournaments, and my hope is to even the playing field (no pun intended) and shine an even brighter beacon on video games and the revolutionary sport of pro-gaming!
Vast amounts of people will nod their head when you name drop NFL players or pro golfers. But mention a pro-gamer’s name and there are only a limited amount of circles that will recognize who you’re talking about. My goal is to change this and for pro-gaming players’ names to be easily recognizable just like players in football, basketball, etc. How can we get this to happen? One thing that might help bridge this gap is media coverage behind the player’s story—the personal life of the pro-gamer. For example: We’re all pretty familiar with some of the mainstream reality shows like The Ultimate Fighter or American Idol. If someone watches even one episode, he/she is not only going to see the star fight or sing, but is also going to get a glimpse inside their personal life, too. After dozens of interview clips, and carefully crafted edited scenes, the audience gets ample footage of the fighter’s/singer’s hometown, family-life, and personal struggles. Through this extra footage we get to know them—we get a connection with who they are and their personal story. When we are able to empathize on a personal level, it opens opportunities for us to relate and root for our favorite contestants.
This is where I hope we take PvP. If pro-gaming becomes a mainstream televised event tomorrow, (but not just the game-play, the players themselves need to be showcased, too) people who misjudge gamers will witness the personal side to gaming, and the planetary scale gaming has reached. When I wrote the new gamer fiction, The Holder’s Dominion, I knew I wanted to highlight PvP in a way that shows this fan-to-player inclusion, and how influential fans can be to the players. The MMO world in the novel is called Edannair and has attributes that separate it from other online games, but was crafted in a way so that readers unfamiliar with MMOs and unfamiliar with games like League of Legends could get a glimpse into how impactful PvP can be for players and fans alike.
Our professional and social circles can be pretty diverse. I have the unique opportunity of working alongside video game industry professionals, while also working with non-gaming circles completely in the dark about LOL, WOW, COD, TF2 and SC. And because my non-gaming circles are misinformed and carry misconceptions about gaming, I will continue to offer new perceptions, education, promotion, and discussions on the benefits, opportunities, and careers created through video games. But I need your help. If we all share our knowledge and experience as PvPers, fans, pro-gamers, etc., we can bring worldwide familiarity with e-sports and hopefully get even more mainstream recognition. When will our local grocery stores be selling e-Sports themed napkins and paper plates in preparation for the worldwide championship game? Let’s hope sooner rather than later!
Until then: Game On, and Lark Your Life. <3
Every week, Holder's Dominion author Genese Davis opines about MMO gaming, the issues the genre faces, and the power of shaping online worlds.