Category Archives: Professional Gaming

Video Game from Playing to Watching Part 3: eSports!

“If you are watching ESPN2 right now and actually taking it seriously, you are the biggest virgin ever”  – Craig Cochran (Some moron on twitter)

On April 10th, 2016 Heroes of the Dorm was broadcasted on ESPN2 for the second time. The final series between Arizona State University and UT Arlington aired on the same day as Kobe Bryant’s last game before retirement. When asked what he thought Bryant said that he didn’t care.

This choice though disappointing to sports fans like Craig, makes a major statement to gamers everywhere. There is more money in broadcasting ten college students playing a video game than there is in Kobe Bryant’s last game. This is a big deal!

In my previous installment of this series I embedded an image that depicted the share of live video streaming traffic by volume. Twitch.tv had an overwhelming share of 43.6%

How do they pull so much traffic? Twitch isn’t just about connecting with the various personalities that stream on a daily basis. It also broadcasts various tournaments and events from all around the world. During the League of Legends 2013 World Championship over 32 million different people turned in to watch the event. 8.5 million of them watched at the same time. Needless to say Twitch’s chat box was moving too fast to read. It had more livestream viewers than the Superbowl.

Why is eSports gaining in popularity? That question has a deceptively simple answer in that it is the exact same reason games like Football and Basketball are popular. People simply want to watch people play their favorite game at the highest level of play. Just like in any other sport players have big personalities and the scene is packed with rivalries and controversy.

The Smash Bros. eSports scene has popular personalities like PPMD, M2K, and Mang0, controversial tweeters like Westballz and Wobbles, and players that people just love to hate like TSM Leffen. When commenting on what made the Smash Bros. community so great, YouTuber Omni said “We’re home to the best heroes, the best villains, the best commentators, the best content creators,  the best streamers, hell the best fans!”

Although the eSports scene is still young, it has come far in such a short time. It is extremely popular with a young male demographic, but does lack the mass appeal that traditional sports does. The gaming community has done its best to make up for that with their love of competition and desire to push eSports into the mainstream. Although video games only appear on TV occasionally in America, Korea has channels dedicated to video game competitions for games like Starcraft 2 and League of Legends.

Plenty of people were upset by ESPN hosting Heroes of the Dorm. Here are some of the best angry tweets.

A collection of my favorite Heroes of the Dorm tweets

 

 

Video Games from Playing to Watching Part 2: Livestreaming

“There’s nothing more boring than watching someone else play an RPG.” – Kazuto Kirigaya (SAO)

Apparently the main protagonist of popular anime Sword Art Online has never heard of Twitch.tv and the fact that it was purchased by Amazon for $970 Million.

Last time I covered YouTube’s part in making video games more viewer friendly in the form of fan created content and eventually Let’s Plays. In the middle I briefly mentioned why Let’s Plays are so successful both in terms of production and fan consumption. They provide the viewer an experience. The ability to watch someone else play and react to a game at a fixed point in time. If it’s boring then the viewer can just click away, but if something scary or funny happens then the viewer is hooked. What if instead of a video, the viewers were watching a live broadcast?

twitch20shares

Enter Twitch.tv “The worlds leading video platform and community for gamers.” Their words not mine. What Twitch allows for is a longer, more community driven experience that happens in real time. YouTube does not allow for a community driven environment because interaction is call and response. Video and comment. Twitch provides a live broadcast with a live chatbox where viewers can communicate with each other and the person streaming. They can have conversations, ask questions, and post emotes exclusive to the site like Kappa, PogChamp, and FrankerZ.

Another one of Twitch’s strengths is authenticity. A YouTube video is edited down and can be scripted or forced. You can play up your reactions for more views. Twitch is live and most streams last for hours. Full-time streamer Lobosjr said in an interview “I’m much more vulgar on stream but when it comes down to it, that’s pretty much who I am in real life, minus the obscenities.”

Twitch’s biggest asset however is also its greatest weakness. If something isn’t happening then people will click away. If a streamer takes a bathroom break or leaves to get food from their kitchen then hundreds of people click away. To avoid this problem charity livestreams like the bi-annual Zeldathon rotate out their streamers constantly so a game is always being played and something is always happening on camera.

Recently YouTube has developed its own gaming platform not-so-cleverly-named YouTube Gaming. It functions similarly to Twitch, but with the option to save the broadcast directly to your YouTube channel. It also functions as a mobile app allowing for people to stream games from their phone. A few years ago this would have been innovative and certainly would have driven traffic to the platform, but with so many communities developed around Twitch it looks like YouTube Gaming will have to settle for second best.

Did you miss the first part of this multi-form post? Read it here!

Video Games from Playing to Watching Part 1: YouTube’s Gaming Debut  

Smash Bros. For Glory!

I am by no means an authority in the competitive Smash Bros. community nor am I the best player, but in my brief time on the competitive scene I have learned more about the game than the ten plus years I’ve spent playing the game and I would like to share some of that knowledge with you.

The first question that everybody asks is “How can I breakout onto the Pro Scene?” Well typically it’s phrased more like “How can I make money off of this?” Well the best answer to the latter question is play a different game. Competitive and Professional gaming is still new. It is inconsistent, and very difficult to make a living off of. If you have any other marketable skills other than playing Smash Bros. you should probably pursue a career in that instead. In my 16 years of playing this series I have made a whopping $20.

Now if you simply want to improve your play and attend tournaments as either a spectator or a player there’s an article on primagames.com that can fill you in. Maybe the competitive scene isn’t your thing, but you still want to be involved. Try the online community. Smash Bros. has a variety of subreddits including /r/smashbros, /r/sm4sh, and /r/crazyhands. Try sharing your love of the game by making YouTube videos or streaming on Twitch.

Finally let’s talk about actually playing the game. Smash Bros. is a franchise that has been around since 1999. It is a game that many of us have fond memories of. I myself have sunk hundreds of hours into the first installment alone. This is not an ordinary fighting game. It is a game that features many beloved nintendo characters.

Choosing your character is important. You can of course look up tier lists and keep up with the meta of the game. You can even pick your character specifically to counter your opponent’s. The game’s roster is 55 characters strong and it is impossible for one player to achieve a higher level of play with all of them. Pick a handful of your favorites and get to work.

Next you need to practice daily. Warming up against the AI can be useful, and using training mode to test and learn combos is a must, but you need to play against actual players as well. Play locally, play online, just play every day. Work on air game, ground game, and edge game. It is easy to spot the difference between a good player and a bad one. A bad player spends all of his time on the ground or in the air. A good player uses both, and will follow up on every opening that you give to them. Case and point the Knee of Justice.

Lastly do not put any player, professional or otherwise on a pedestal. If you think that they are better than you or that you will never compare to them then you have already lost.