Just under three weeks ago, I wrote an article which outlined a concept on Semi-Professional Gaming and how this could be integrated in to gaming based on the current state of most competitive organisations, the players who compete, and their teams. The ideas and foundation for this concept when introduced were largely lost on many given I probably gave gaming communities too much credit for one thing – thinking outside the box. What I mean by this, is that the concept was all about the bigger picture, and in writing that concept article, I forgot the reality that 80% of gamers I see in action on a day to day basis are only concerned with themselves and short term wants or solutions. So given this, I thought a follow up article would be a valid piece of writing to give extra depth to the whole concept of semi-professional gaming in this part of the world.
Many discussions have been occurring all around based on the article I put up, and indeed behind the scenes of CyberGamer where I had posed the article with a translation to how it could be effected in a Call of Duty League style affair a lot of talk was entered in to.
Mitch ‘terror’ Winter, CyberGamer Vet: “One of the biggest issues I see with pushing (CoD) gaming forward into a more semi-professional environment are the players themselves.”
This response was exactly the issue I found – what needs to happen versus what players want to have happen is massively different. That is, gamers are typically very selfish and lack vision outside of their chosen area with this translating to them wanting to only see what will benefit them in the short term.
Before I kick in to expanding on the above, here’s a bit of my background thinking that kicked off my conceptual theories: the key driver behind any professional league or sport or other activity is sponsor backing and broadcasting rights. Through these critical elements, you get:
- content for the broadcaster – they pay you for the rights to provide sole coverage, or you offer rights to multiple organisations and thus get greater coverage
- advertising for sponsors through the ability to broadcast – you have a marketable option for your sponsors to get interest in the proposal
- a competition that has a professional feel to it - through scheduled persistent days of coverage, advance notification of schedules, and detailed and insightful broadcasts.
In gaming however, we’re not going to get broadcasters clambering for rights to televise competitive matches, or eSports tournaments, without significantly more interest in the concepts, or a decent amount of marketing to show what can be done.
So, without a broadcasting rights deal, we look at the other option which is the large number of sponsors who can capitalise on marketing dollars and positive gaming actions, activities and advertising by being part of a league. Add to that proper coverage via combinations of Gamestah and any other streaming crowd (who can do it properly and to a particular template or style), and you start to give the sponsor their return. Take it a step further and market a league properly as an organiser and all of a sudden you have a major non-gaming or industry related sponsor wanting to be involved – this is ultimately the goal in any competitive gaming marketplace.
Now come back to my concept, and in order to get to the above points and create options around them we need to create a spectacle that is watched. We need to create a spectacle that gets attention – specifically external attention. To do that, something different has to be done. This is why (and finally I get to the point ‘terror’ hit home about) I was disappointed to see the lack of imagination when I raised the article on the semi-pro league.
Firstly, the ‘pro’ eligible players were not interested in playing with lower tier players, but secondly the teams didn’t want to lose a player in lieu of a ‘pro’ who would take the place of one of their mates. To hit point 1, it’s good and well that the ‘pro’ player doesn’t want to degrade themself to a lower level, but this wouldn’t be the only league they’d play in. That is, we’re not suggesting stopping their league competition that is clearly a higher level of play, rather, the idea is that by inserting this typically much better player in to a team and having them influence the lower tier team (and the outcome of a match) becomes a highly spectate-able possibility! Examples such as the pro taking down 4 other players in a massive clutch to win their team a round, or another pro going 1v1 versus the opposition pro to win a round or even the match – these are what would make a spectacle of what would be otherwise standard matches which to date, have hardly gathered any mainstream following, or professional following. On point 2, the semi-pro element will see players shifting to make room, but that is not to say they wouldn’t play, the team can work around the pro, and sub in a player who might work better on one map versus another who works better on another map. There’s even the option of having 6 in game, and super subbing constantly throughout the game based on strategies employed throughout the rounds – this comes down to league formats as well as team involvement and realisation that this ultimately will benefit them long term.
From the perspective of league formats, changes to these can provide more excitement also. CGS used the shortened form of CSS when they were alive, and look what it did – it created short sharp games that were made for TV, but for which also had a lot of passion and emotion behind them. It wasn’t a preferred format from a competitive gamer perspective, but it was just the format that was needed to showcase that game – and something that the gamers got used to and almost began to enjoy.
So, I’m not saying that a pro + 4 format would be a permanent thing, but in the scheme of a concept, and how to start to market this part of the world of competitive options, it would carry weight to present this sort of thing. It carries likeness to sports leagues where you see rugby players contracted overseas, cricket players contracted to T20 teams, American basketball players to AusNBL Leagues etc. and drawing these parallels allows the average person to understand more. When the concept was put forward to the CyberGamer CoD community they gravitated toward putting a pro player in as a coach – and this is where my disappointment in the unimaginative vision of the community kicked in. You see, while we can manufacture some excitement and interest by having teams comms and discussing things with the coach, it is in no way a friendly spectacle for those who are unaware of how the game operates. It is far too technical for the average competitive gaming uneducated journalist to come to grips with – thus, they won’t care. However (and to put it bluntly), shoving a top level player in with noobs, running a best of two map mr9 match with VOIP crosses – now that’s a fucking excellent idea, and allows the journalist to draw parallels – “two match series, short, sharp and heavily influenced by the skill of a top player! Just so happens they’re playing with scrubs, sweet, I’ll report on that…..” On top of this, the format is solid for sponsor interest, and with 5 breaks (pre-match, 1st match halftime, between maps, 2nd match halftime, and post match) sponsor opportunities are high.
The graduation from this league format once many start to take it in is then simple. The ground work has been laid for what the competitive game is, so our Joe Journalist can report on what the pros normally play too. “Shit they play mr15 with 5 amazingly skilled players, damn, I might have to publicise this more – could be more to this eSports shit than I knew”……….. This is a hugely optimistic approach, but an educated and calculated possibility. Offline events are governing eSport at the moment, and this could potentially change that – the only way to find out is to try.
Craig "Arseynimz" Nimmo is a gamer and shoutcaster from New Zealand who spends his spare time looking in to the hour glass of competitive and general gaming. When not travelling the world on game commentating adventures, he can be found observing life idiocy, or general industry excitement...... Craig is a Senior Shoutcaster for Gamestah, PC Head Admin for CyberGamer, and a part of the Vox Eminor eSports Team.