Most gamers who enjoy eSports don’t necessarily enjoy spectating it; the people who do, however, have a greater understanding of the game than your everyday casual gamer. StarCraft 2 design production chief, Chris Sigaty thinks that getting eSports on television would propel it to mainstream viewing, but what are the odds of that happening outside of Europe, South Korea and the United States?
Spectatorship in the US and EU might be in the millions, but what about the rest of the world? We still have the internet; sure, it’s just not as awesome as flipping channels and ending up watching Dota 2, StarCraft 2 or League of Legends on the telly. Even though the thought seems nice enough, how many South Africans would actually tune into such a channel on, for example DSTV? I’m not so sure that many will. No matter which country you live in, getting casual gamers and non-gamers interested in watching an eSports game is like getting Geoff to leave his house, or Darryn to wear pants. IMPOSSIBRU!
How will we as the eSports community bridge the gap between a very specific audience and the mainstream audience? Sigaty suggests a “reality TV” kind of approach. Good idea and it might be a better option than broadcasting matches on TV, but how exciting or enticing would it be viewing gamers in a gaming house, sitting in front of their PC’s training be? Probably not very much, if I were a producer of such a show, I’d focus on bringing that adrenaline, that amazing world we have inside of our rigs out of the box and showing people the experience that’s got us all spending hours of our lives in front of our PC’s or consoles. How that would be accomplished, I have no idea! But without them understanding the emotion and passion that goes into not only eSports, but gaming in general, they’ll never get it.
Emotion and passion is what gets people to watch other sports, like Rugby or Football, without that, it’s just as boring as watching paint dry, or maybe golf. Giving people a bond to these individuals, giving them a sense of loyalty for their team or player, this is what will get them to want to watch eSports. If you’re going to put eSports in the same category as other sports, you might not want to take away the excitement in it, i.e focussing on the Reality TV spin. That being said, eSports programming is wedged in the middle of Reality TV and Sports TV. Somehow there has to be a merger to get people to want to watch it. While you want families, or teenagers or gamers in general to drop down on the couch and chill with an episode of “Real men don’t use wards”, you also want them to get together with their friends over the weekend. Having drinks, chips and biltong or whatever and support their favourite teams or players like that Afrikaans neighbour you have supporting the Blue Bulls.
While my own thoughts on the matter still look like barf in a tumble dryer, what are your thoughts on the matter? Would you watch eSports on TV? What type of programming would get you to be interested?