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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

 

 

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Our Dark Souls Stories

Dark Souls 3 has finally released and now everyone is free to explore Lothric. There is loot to be found, souls to be farmed, and bosses to defeat!

Many gamers, myself included jumped into the Souls series in Dark Souls 2 and I suspect many more will start with Dark Souls 3. So why not catch up on the lore of the series with a brief fan-made video featuring beautiful animation and intense narration? I can’t think of a single reason!

This video and many others were made for a contest that BANDAI NAMCO  held in honor of the release of Dark Souls 3. The grand prize was $10,000 and for the video to be featured as official promotional content. This was the winning entry by TerraMantis.

It is impossible to not feel pumped up after listening to it.

Slashy Souls the Game Nobody Asked For

Welcome to week 1 of Mobile Game Mondays where I give my unfiltered opinions about the games that I’ve played on my phone. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are Clash of Clans. Let’s get right into it!

Dark Souls 3 comes out tomorrow and if you have less subscribers than Silver Mont, then you probably didn’t get an early copy. So how do you pass the time? Do you play other Souls games in preparation? Why play a game you have 1000 hours on when you can play a brand new, even more difficult game?

Slashy Souls is a free to play mobile runner game distributed by BANDAI NAMCO and Gamestop as a promotional tool to generate hype for the release of the most anticipated action rpg of the year, Dark Souls 3.  It combines the the oppressive aesthetic of Dark Souls with the shallow simplicity of Temple Run.

I will give the game credit though. It certainly does live up to the Dark Souls slogan “Prepare to Die.” In fact it is the hardest Souls game in existence. In fact it is literally impossible to beat because it is an infinite runner game designed to only end with your character’s death.

Your randomly generated character will die in a plethora of ways including impalement by spikes, impalement by Nito’s swords, impalement by random enemy’s sword, and death by fire. You will also die if the darkness of the abyss that is constantly chasing you manages to catch up.

The game’s biggest weak point is ironically Dark Soul’s greatest strength. The game doesn’t tell you what to do or even how to perform the most basic actions. The controls are incredibly clunky because there is no interface. You just wave your finger around and hope that your character jumps over spikes and rolls under platforms all while your character swings his sword or axe like a blood-frenzied lunatic.

Slashy Souls is a game that’s fun for a couple of minutes before its poor design becomes apparent. It’s both impossible to win and impossible to enjoy. It hurts the reputation of Dark Souls more than it helps it. Just play Dark Souls again or Salt and Sanctuary.

Don’t just take my word for it though. Here’s Dark Souls streamer Oroboro playing Slashy Souls.

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

His face is on South Park. His fist is on your nephew’s shirt. His name is all over the internet, and odds are you’ve seen at least one of his videos on YouTube. You probably can’t pronounce his real name Felix Arvid Ulf Kejellberg, but everyone knows his alias, PewDiePie.

Further reading:
Part 2 on Twitch.tv
Part 3 on eSports
Part 4 on Games as Art

YouTube has been a center for video game related content for years now, but it wasn’t always. The most popular videos on YouTube until 2011 were makeup tutorials and fashion vlogs.

Before the rise of the gaming community on YouTube, gamers used smaller more community driven sites like NewGrounds and Roosterteeth. Here users would upload their own video game inspired creations. This is where Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson started his flash animations, The Awesome Series. The only reason he made a YouTube channel was so that he could officially release his animations which were being ripped from NewGrounds and uploaded to YouTube.

Gameplay videos began to hit their stride not long after the release of Call of Duty Modern Warefare 2. Hutch, Seananners, Xcal, and countless others found success in making commentary videos. Where they would talk over their footage of the game. Eventually this developed into live-commentaries where the player would commentate while playing the game. This idea of reacting to the game in real-time launched what we know today as the “Let’s Play.”

For the five people that don’t know what I am referring to a Let’s Play is a gaming video where one or more people play a game and provide commentary. The commentary differs from channel to channel. Some seek to inform others seek to converse and way too many seek to entertain by overreacting for the camera.

The Let’s Play was a game changer because up until this point nothing else like it existed. YouTube’s gaming content was severely limited to reviews and the occasional animation. Reviews took time to write and capture footage for while animations took even more time and effort to create. Let’s Plays were simple and easy to produce. They paved the way for other popular forms of game-related entertainment.

Let’s Plays are of course incredibly popular because now you no longer need to buy or play a game to enjoy it. Instead you can watch your favorite internet personalities play that game and together you both experience the joys and frustrations that come along with it. 

Back in 2008 Roosterteeth started their “Drunk Tank” podcast. On it they shared everything form funny stories to the games that they were playing that week. After NPR got defunded they jumped to the number 1 podcast in the “Gaming” category.

RT is also responsible for producing the Red vs. Blue an animated series created inside the popular fps Halo. This type of animation is called “Machinima.”

Today Youtube is oversaturated with gaming content and unfortunately the vast majority of it is objectively terrible. However there are many gems out there if you’re willing to look. Join me next time for Part 2.

 

Weekly Feature Starting Monday!

I am happy to announce that starting Monday I will be regularly posting about different types of Mobile games. These posts will not be reviews or critiques, but my unfiltered opinion. You can expect games from all genres to make an appearance from Puzzle games to Clicker games to everyone’s favorite waiting simulator Clash of Clans.

I am also happy to take suggestions as my knowledge of mobile games are limited.

I will play each game for at least an hour and try to accurately summarize my experience with the game. Next week’s game will be everyone’s favorite Souls Game Slashy Souls.

Connection! A Brief History of Gaming

Connection. That’s how it all started. Electricity powering the first pong machine. The most simple game made for two players. Connect a second controller and play with a friend.

Fast forward past the crash. The Nintendo Entertainment system was released. Two controllers and and countless games to play alone or with friends. A challenge that created a hotline that gives strategies for beating games.

The age of the arcade. Flashing lights and beeps reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. A place to spend quarters and make friends. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Franchises that are still around today.

And what do we have today? The internet! All you need is an internet connection and you have access not just to video games, but to other players. We live in a digital age of gaming.

Video games and game related content from media coverage to tournaments are at our finger tips. Gaming has developed into a community of sorts, a subculture. Many of us find personalities in the community that we like whether it be YouTubers or Twitch streamers, and develop subcommunities around them.

We the players, the products of this digital age. We interact with each other and our games in search of fat loot and reaching the next level. All of us are connected. We play for different reasons, but we all play, and we all have that connection whether it be electrical, digital, physical, or spiritual.

Video Games as a Coping Mechanism

This post is a response to Dark Souls Used to Combat Depression by Link the Fire.

Video games can be art, video games can just be games, but video games can also make a difference. It is typically frowned upon to spend an entire day playing a game. There are always going to be people who feel that way. Many of these people will also spend entire days binge watching netflix, but I digress.

Video games can help people. They’ve certainly helped me, and they have helped countless others as well. The post by Link the Fire talks about two specific young men who suffer from depression. They equated their mental battle with this illness to their actual battles in Dark Souls.

When I was a kid and I would come home from a bad day at school I would turn on my nintendo 64 and play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This was a game that I had beaten at least fifty times by that point, probably more, but it helped me. It let me leave my struggles and my sadness behind and immersed me in a different world. This escapism helped me cope with bigger issues later on in life without resorting to self-destructive behavior.

Escapism in games is often seen as a bad thing. People say that it is a sign of “video game addiction,” and that it can cause people to lose touch with reality. That was not the case for me, and that was not the case for these brave souls as well.

Dark Souls is a game about moving forward. Every obstacle will try to slow you down or stop you entirely, and many of them will succeed to some degree, but ultimately it is your choice as the player to give up or to press on. It is a bleak and oppressive game rife with sadness and suffering, but there is always a light in the blackness. Dark Souls is seen as a right of passage for many gamers due to its difficulty. This competitive nature, this drive to succeed can carry over after the game is finished.

The Souls games have developed an incredible community the likes of which I myself have never seen before. Everyone is so willing to give advice and share tips. It is a community where everyone strives to improve and everyone is willing to share their knowledge, experiences, and stories. The games can be challenging, but when we all suffer through them together, we all suffer less.

Here’s a video that fits the theme of this post. Don’t go hollow-