I just wanted to wrap up my blog posts with a prediction, albeit an obvious one to many people in this class. I believe eSports will be competing with ESPN’s most watched live sports matches in the next couple of decades. We can already see how far it has come in the last 15-20 years.
With the increasing popularity of all gaming it is inevitable that the popularity of spectating games will also increase. The more involved in gaming communities and the more appreciation the average person has for gaming will do nothing but add interest to the future stadium events. I also think the development of photorealistic graphics in gaming will help in breaking the industry through to the mainstream, as that is what the mainstream want. Beautiful action to spectate and teams to support.
I discuss this from personal experience. I understand how easy it is to begin a passion for eSports if you share a love for gaming and a love of the competitive sporting environment. About 4 years ago I bought Starcraft 2 and was absolutely awful, but I really loved the game. The depth of the development in the game, the micro-management and strategy required, and of course the beauty of the game. I haven’t played this game in years but I have streamed many pro matches. I found I could never really get the value out of a game I loved through playing it myself, as I wanted to see the potential for what someone could achieve in it. So eSports has been the perfect means for me to enjoy this great game, without investing serious amounts of time in developing the ability myself (As if I actually could). I believe this will be a common trend in the future leading to the increase in popularity of eSports.
The negative stereotype of gamers effects many people and how open they are about their hobbies. I have felt at times that I have been directly affected by these stereotypes. As a person who enjoys games, I have been fortunate to have been introduced to many different fictional worlds, some of which I found found myself fully immersed in and others which I have enjoyed on a more surface level. But I found, mostly as a teenager, there were certain games, of which disclosing your enjoyment of said game, could have negative effects.
As a player of World of Warcraft in the mid 2000’s I found myself best of keeping my gaming hobbies mostly to myself and of course with the few friends I had who also played. This was most certainly due to the common connotations which came with someone who plays WoW. I felt I would have been judged by my peers. This seemed very odd to me at the time because I remember the popularity of the Lord of the Rings films which were being released at the time. Why was it socially acceptable to like europeanised medieval fantasy in film, but not in an hugely popular MMORPG?
I discuss this in a retrospective point of view but really this hasn’t changed. I remain confident that if I disclosed that I once was an avid WoW player, dependant on the person whom I have disclosed this too, that person would most likely characterise me in a certain way based solely on that knowledge. So I find even now I don’t openly admit that I held a particular hobby, purely because of the representations and stereotypes held of the masses about people who share that hobby. In this way I feel I have directly felt the negative representation of gamers in modern society.
Throughout my life I’ve always played video games. It’s nearly unbelievable to think that my huge grey handheld Nintendo Gameboy original playing Pokemon red was the peak of gaming at any point in my life considering where we’re at now. Anyway, I wanted to talk about how gaming has benefited my actual life outside of the various virtual escapes, as I believe gaming helps in many different ways.
Gaming has made me a good problem solver. From the very beginning I’ve been getting stuck in games. Whether it was finding my way through through various dungeons or temples in Zelda or Final Fantasy, or figuring out how to get enough stars to get up the infinite stairs in Super Mario 64. But these roadblocks are what makes gaming satisfying and beneficial. Without a difficulty to overcome we don’t learn, and without struggle there is no satisfaction in the win. These games are an incredible means for people to learn how to think outside the box and approach situations from other angles. They also provide them with the satisfaction of knowing they can overcome challenges that at first seem absolutely impossible (Special mention for the Gran Turismo Three special license test).
Gaming has benefited my knowledge. I am an avid football fan, I wake up in the wee hours every weekend to watch my team play live. So naturally, my love of the sport and the pleasure I receive from gaming has brought about my relationship with the FIFA franchise. This game has gone well past just helping me feel satisfaction after a tough win against a strong opponent, or improving my reaction times. FIFA has increased my knowledge of football in a dramatic way. Through playing various different modes and manager seasons in FIFA I truly have a better understanding of formations, tactics, the role of the manager, the way trades and player contracts are negotiated during international transfer windows. Not only the way football operates but literally knowing all of the players and having a fair idea of how they play and what their strengths are has made watching football IRL vastly more enjoyable.
Basically, I feel games can be beneficial in many ways, and they certainly have been and continue to be so for me.
Every Day the Same Dream is definitely a good example of a game operating as art. Its visual appearance and audio make for quite a sombre and somewhat futile feel, which is ultimately how the gameplay will make the player feel. By only giving the instructions “Click to start arrows + space to play”, I immediately realised I would have to identify what is important and what the meaning of the game is through nothing but numerous plays. After a few attempts I began to realise that the game seems to be a means of reflecting on the cliche monotonous grind in the life of an stereotypical office worker. Though it gives you some vague sense of agency, ultimately you exhaust your two interesting options, accompanying a homeless man to a graveyard or catching a beautiful autumn leaf, very quickly. Leaving you to decide between a day of cubicle work or suicide, thus making the gamer reflect upon the depressing life of our mute and monotonous protagonist. This game feels more to me like a interactive piece of art, than an interactive narrative or even a ‘game’.