29 October 2012
What What Keeps Us Watching?
On October 13th 2012 8.2 million viewers were estimated to have watched the league of legends season 2 championship finals (Breslau). That is more views than many popular TV shows or sports games get, so what makes us keep tuning in to watch these online gaming events? Competitive gaming has been going on since the first video games were made and the viewer base has been growing ever since. Esports, as many people call it, may be our generations newest pastime,along side already popular sports such as football and baseball. With video games becoming more and more popular it only makes sense that people watching others play them is also getting more popular. Esports are a trend because they are able to appeal to large audiences, they can evolve with the times, and they have a passionate and smart people helping them move forward.
Ever since video games were invented humans have been playing them against each other and competing with one another. One of the very first video games to ever hit the market was a game called pong where 2 players competed against each other to hit a ball into their opponents goal. Then arcades came around and many young people would beg their parents for money and spend hours playing against each other at these arcades. After that the Nintendo entertainment system, or NES for short came around, this was the first real mainstream home video game. Many different tournaments were held for games on the NES and these tournaments drew a lot of attention for Esports. There was even a movie made about it called The Wizard (“The Wizard”). Esports then grew with video games, whenever a new hit video game came out there was generally an Esports scene to go along with it. Some of the most noteworthy games where games like Starcraft, Mortal Combat, Halo, Counter Strike, and Quake. Esports even got so popular in South Korea that they have 2 television channels dedicated entirely to Esports and some people even say that Starcraft is the national sport of South Korea (ash).
Humans have always enjoyed watching others compete, the Romans had the Olympic games and built huge coliseums to watch these events, today we have things like the super bowl where millions of people tune in to watch football being played at its highest tier. Therefore it only makes sense that playing and watching video games competitively could easily draw massive appeal. When we play a sport we get a sense of competition and when we watch other teams play rooting for one team or the other gives us a similar emotion. Well as many people know when playing video games brings out some of our most competitive natures. Peaceful living rooms turn into war zones in games like Call of Duty, brothers become mortal enemies for a short time during a game of Super Smash Brothers. We then watch professional players play and we pick favorites, root for teams and this gives us may of the same emotions that watching a game of football can. There are also usually people commentating on the games similar to what happen when you watch a game of football on live T.V. The difference is that instead of people like John Madden, there are commutators like Day 9 or Djwheat. These commutators generally make the games more fun to watch. They provide insight into what is happening in the game at the time as well as explain many of the more complicated functions of the games. These commentators also provide a commentary on the play by play and add an extra aspect of emotion to the game the we can generally follow (Smith). For example when a commutators starts yelling during a major event in the game we a viewers also get excited and and our eyes stay glued to the screen waiting with anticipation to see what the outcome will be. These commentator a one of the main reasons why Esports can have such a massive appeal. When someone is generally told what Esports is the usually say oh i do not like to watch...
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