And racism and homophobia too. Because according to report in MCV (so take the following with a Mountain Dew flavoured pinch of salt) the desperate to be sold off, IGN- who organise their own pro league- believe mainstream acceptance of pro gaming could be not far off, according to IGN's eSports general manager, David Ting. Who believes that pro-gaming will increase in popularity that it'll be a recognised sport in five years. Even as going as far as to predict gaming will soon have it's own equivalent of David Beckham. What? A borderline retard, with shit tattoos, and an addiction to Lego? There's hundreds of guys like that in gaming already!
This whole " e-sports will be in the next Olympics" bullshit keeps rearing it's malformed head as the audiences for gaming tournaments grow alongside the proliferation of easier to access and use online streaming sites like Twitch and Ustream and Youtube (if you're desperate), and in turn someone can now reach a audience of thousands, if not millions. However there are two things to take into account before you go storming the gates of ESPN. Because TV is the sure sign of mainstream acceptance. Just look at G4...or maybe not.
First off, the numbers are great yeah. If just five years ago, you'd have said we'd be able to watch the likes of Super Battle Opera online, live, I wouldn't have believed there would even be a demand for it, let alone the infrastructure to pull it off. But bare in mind this isn't mainstream acceptance. It's just a world wide version of the audience you get at gaming tournaments; the people who play at them and their mates. The people watching are the hardcore audience for those games. And the internet is where they access nearly all of their news and other gaming related tomfoolery. Plus bare in mind some of the most awful, offensive, poorly made videos have pulled in fuck-tonnes of hits. Which is no indication of quality of mainstream visibility. That's why attempts at broadcasting pro-gaming on television have yielded less than stellar ratings. Lest we forgot the televisual crime that was X League. Which was British TV's attempt to present video games like it was a sport, but came across like a cut-price IGN. But with much less success and far less attractive presenters. Granted it didn't help they height of their content was endless repeats of the same Halo 3 quarter-final, insightful reviews like this and was mostly presented by -a coked out of his box- Paul Vale. But nonetheless, it showed TV wasn't quite sure how to market gaming to the masses and whether the masses were even interested in pro-gaming.
Which leads to the second problem with pro-gaming. The pro-gamers. These people are supposed to be the stars. The special individuals that are so excellent at what they do or are so charismatic, that they crossover into the mainstream. Using IGN's example, even those who aren't fans of football know who David Beckham is. That's not gonna happen with the current (or probably any) batch of pro-gamers. Because they come in two varieties: either they're mind-numbingly dull in the vein of any premiership, post-match ,"Well we have it 110%" interview. Or they're baby-punchingly obnoxious who confirm all the worst stereotypes of gamers being a shower of homophobic, racist, woman-hating man-children. Or "dude-bros" for the sake or our American readers.
|"Shut up! Being monosyllabic wankers is in the culture of gaming"|
Remember the story about the League Of Legends match fixing issue from a few months back? Well, watch this interview with one of the disqualified players. Even though it's kinda his job to play to the best of his ability, he don't give a shit. Now who the fuck would want to pay good money to see him on TV, a breakfast cereal or a personalised fragrance? No one out side of the League Of Legends fanbase, that's for certain.
Pro-gaming can never be as mainstream as regular sports because first of all, it's video games, and games are NOT A FUCKING SPORT! And never will be. And even if it was, video games are too fragmented in of themselves to really garner the same kind of TV audiences. Which genre of game is most popular? Then which specific game do they play? What happens of the players from that scene don't like playing that game and move on? And don't forget the publishers will probably want part of the organisation and TV rights, so that's another minefield of trouble. Plus the closest gamers have to the entrenched loyalty on comparison with sports fans is with specific titles or consoles. So they only way you could have something close would be to have a bunch of Medal of Honor players take on some Call of Duty players in a 10-man, free-for-all, oil wrestling match. And the appeal for that is limited to only a handful of websites. Or so I've heard.
You know who's gonna watch pro-gaming in the future? Gamers, that same people that watch it now. That's if they're not actually playing the video games themselves.