Click Click CLICK! The Crowd Goes Wild!

 “Click, Click, CLICK! The Crowd Goes Wild”

: eSports as a Casual Gamer

By: Meg Humphrey


With Riot’s League of Legends World Finals finally at an end, I think it’s a good time to get up on my soap box about my little corner of eSports participation.

At PAX Prime ’12 I was able to witness my first live eSports events. The League of Legends North American Regionals dominated the sixth floor of the Washington State Convention Center. Not only that, but across the street in the Grand Hyatt there was a room (far too small for the amount of people who waited in line) for the Redbull LAN Starcraft II Trial of the Xel’Naga.

The first day of the Trial of the Xel’Naga pitted Team LiquidNonY (right) vs. Team EGMachine (left)

Now I will be up front: I have never played a single game of LoL and I have only played a little bit of the Starcraft II single player campaign on easy. I’m not competitive when I play video games and I don’t like to be put in stressful video game situations. I play Kirby. I play Donkey Kong Country. I will Galactic Dance Off on Star Wars Kinect for way too long. When I play games I play for fun and relaxation, not to be wound up.  But I still enjoy the heck out of watching people play video games that I would never play.

The best part is that I totally blend in with this Kirby mural. That is how much Kirby and I are meant to be.

 I bring this up because I’ve gotten flak for not playing these games. “You’ve never even played, how would you know? You don’t know anything. You’re not really a fan.”

I’d like to point out that people like me are actually quite important to sports, especially to eSports that are still trying to become big and bad and wildly popular. You don’t walk into a hockey rink, football stadium, or basketball arena and expect everyone there, everyone who is a fan, to have played the game. I love watching men’s figure skating (I think lady’s figure skating is boring, sorry!), but I’ve never ice skated outside of the couple of times in high school I went with friends to our local ice rink. Even so, I can still tell you the required moves in a Free Skate. I can tell you what jump they’re doing based on the edge of their blade as they leave the ice. I can tell you the difference in difficulties between competitors’ straight line foot work sequences. I can know all this and enjoy all this without ever being anywhere near their level of performance.

I was THRILLED to meet Husky Starcraft and Day[9] and see LiquidNonY (who I’ve been a fan of since I started watching SCII) dodge nukes all the way to the finals (and win!). I was on the edge of my seat during the intense Kurse vs. TSM matches (and didn’t hold back chanting “T-S-M” when appropriate). On the other hand, I only played Nintendo and The Behemoth demos in the exhibition hall and I didn’t try to hunt down the Arcade Sona skin. I enjoy watching eSports for the same reasons that people watch regular sports – because they’re exciting and FUN. There are so many different ways a game could play out thanks to unit compositions or character choices. The strategies can be innovative and surprising. The casters are fun to listen to and there is so much to learn from them. There’s a great sense of camaraderie discussing matches and players with friends.

I was SO SHY going up to Sean “Day[9]” Plott, but he’s just as nice (and charming!) as he is on the Day[9] Daily!!

 In the end, I just have to say that you are right, disgruntled elite nerd! I don’t know how it scary it can be to climb

Photos courtesy of Meg’s awesome boyfriend (as pictured with Amumu!)

rank ladders. I don’t have the finesse to get off a perfectly timed Ultimate. I’m constantly dying in COD Death Matches and I just want to run and hide in a corner. I have no interest in playing these games! But just because playing is not my cup of tea doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. Don’t alienate me and people like me. You want our support – eSports needs it. I will be there buying tickets to events and trying to get my hands on awesome merchandise (Blitzcrank and Malzahar hoodies, anyone?!) just like that Diamond League Zerg player. ESports needs to gain popularity beyond the diehard players and continue to expand and bring more people into the fold, even if it’s just taking seats in the audience or subscribing to streams. We gain different things from watching and participating, but we can all agree that eSports are rad! Yes, ranks and skills are important but in the end, just like with winning and losing, games are supposed to be fun. So keep them fun and keep out the judgment!