With the rerun of the “Why you heff to be mad” meme coupled with a a few recent observations in the esports industry I was reminded that the discussion of whether it’s time to start take gaming seriously is still going on. Some would argue that this discussion has already happened, but there are some indications that people even within gaming are conflicted on this. So here are my thoughts.
I was watching the first episode of True Sight : A Dota Documentary and was surprised by an interaction between few EG guys Zai, Arteezy and Fear. Zai says that sometimes he feels like he is not doing anything useful with his life and is just playing a game, Arteezy and Fear point out that he is providing entertainment and joy to millions around the world. It’s true that I myself watch a lot more esports than regular TV nowadays. I don’t even play Dota much anymore and yet I love watching and cheering for Dota and the various personalities. My surprise is from Zai’s feelings. We cannot disregard them as they are very pertinent. We cannot chalk it upto immaturity of thought, since even though he might have just finished high school, he has been one of the top players in the industry for couple of years now, so whatever he is, he is not immature at least not in the world of Dota or esports. It’s surprising to me that he still feels that way, even after achieving so much success. It’s even more important given that so much of the esports industry is centered around teens and people in their twenties. It is generally believed that people’s reactionary faculties fade away after twenties, so people have a very short time to make it big in the industry or risk ending up without a career to move into afterwards. Those who do make it big can happily retire or move into other roles pretty easily. Prime examples would be PPD from Dota, or cArn from CSGO.
In general more and more people are taking gaming more seriously. The millions of dollars and millions of global fandom on the line for tournaments in games like Dota, CSGO, League of Legends, Starcraft, SMITE, Overwatch have attracted even the likes of ESPN, and traditional sports teams like Schalke Manchester United and Manchester City. More and more teams are taking on esports. It’s clear to everyone in the industry that it will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. People in traditional careers are getting involved in the industry just because of their love of the game and the use of their skills in the industry, take for example Alan Bester ‘Nahaz’, a professor of mathematics and economics, is a very famous personality in the Dota world.
Those who play esport games will very likely have heard someone or the other raging and someone else pointing it out that it’s just a game. There is a problem here, because you don’t usually know if the person taking it seriously is some 15 year old dreaming of making it big as a pro-player or just someone salty from losing. If it’s a dreamer kid then it’s “not just a game” to him/her, it’s preparation for a career either as a professional gamer or a streamer. At the same time, there are people playing the game who have sat down after a hard day’s work and just wants to have some fun times. These two don’t really have matching aspirations, which is why competitive ladders and ranking systems are often implemented in games aside from more casual modes but there is nothing stopping these two groups from mixing beyond personal choice. This often creates a lot of tension, bad behavior and general toxicity in the community. So next time you feel like saying to someone that “it’s just a game” or “just have fun” do think for a moment if that is just the case for you or for everyone.
So as you can see, the argument is still very much alive – Is it time to take gaming seriously? How seriously?