Learning Curves, Battle Royale and Esports

Fri 11th Jan 2019 - 3:00pm General

Games that have paved the way for Esports to become a competitive scene are able to be counted on your two hands. The timeline of Esports is at it's beginning and we are entering the era where experimentation is at it's finest. Developers are releasing content that is integrated with competitive ladders and competitive tournaments, and this can shift the way the average player treats the game. 

An example of how an average player can treat the game is that they only play it with a group of competitive friends. This type of player tends to be sociable and wants to win the game and experience the feeling of winning the game with a group of friends. Games such as StarCraft 2 don't really offer as much of this type of play as compared to other games such as League of Legends and DoTA 2. But there appears to be an emergent new gamemode: Battle Royale. This gamemode tends to favor the resourceful player and is somewhat based on luck of many factors, such as spawn location, and environmental benefits. This type of game is arguably an easy-to-play but hard-to-master game that can definitely become part of the competitive scene. 

At it's core, competition always contains an element of surprise or luck. This is what makes the competition exciting and fresh for viewers to watch. Without viewers, the game itself will  not grow as a community. The popularity of a game is also something all game competitions must consider before hosting tournaments. Games may experience regional popularity or hard-ware based popularity. An example of the regional popularity is StarCraft's success in South Korea. An example of hard-ware based popularity is Super Smash Brothers' popularity on the Nintendo consoles. But the overall factor is that there is always an element of showmanship present in these games. It is usually a one versus one type of scenario. This differs greatly from the competition of a battle royale. 

Battle-royale games are popping up here and there, but what are it's effects on the esports scene at large? One could argue that it is shifting the popularity of the two competitor stage to that of a multiple competitor stage. This means that the player who wins a battle royale definitely has to "survive" more challenging circumstances than their two competitor stage counterparts. But does the player truly have more "skill" or gameplay knowledge, or is there a percentage of "blind luck" that is also present? To competition purists, a battle royale is literally just a barroom brawl, where the lucky drunk wins. It arguably does not require one hundred percent skill or one hundred percent game knowledge. However, this is honestly fine in the grand scale of things, if only because it provides showmanship to host multiple competitors. Much like a horse race, it transforms games into something that is more based on somewhat illogical preference of certain teams or players based on careful analysis of past histories. 

The link between gambling and competitive gaming will always be present, although it is not necessarily a very logical link. This is because while money is going to the team that supposedly has more luck, there still exists the small percentage of human to game interactions that will tilt the outcome in one team's favor. The money itself is treated as a reward, but if one gets caught up in the idea of the reward, then they will forget about the journey, the interactions, and the sportsmanship that also is present. The money that goes into hosting a tournament not only goes to the reward pool. It also goes to casters, analysts, coaches, and other support staff. This is essentially providing a platform for entertainment that is somewhat like what goes into crafting a movie. It requires producers and other staff to implement. 

Esports is definitively a sporting genre due to this appropriation of finances. It is the future of entertainment, but it has room to grow either into a beautiful apple tree, or a warped willow. The fruits of labor from the genre of the esports is ultimately decided by a few factors. These are the player base, the viewer or audience, the support staff, the game's replayability, and the game's community. With the advent of a younger audience of gamers, (I hate to say this, but) the naivety of the players may indeed kill off certain genres of games before their full potential may be realized. However, with a younger audience comes new energy, which is what any sporting event needs to suceed. So indeed, striking a perfect balance is the best bet for the future of esports. 



Kevin Liou

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