It’s no secret that competitive gamers want their pastime to be taken as seriously as professional sports. Technically, there are many parallels between competitive-level sport and gaming that the average person will dismiss on account of the dated stigmas that are attached to gaming.
What many people don’t realise, though, is just how big the competitive gaming scene is. Take StarCraft II, for instance. It may not have the pulling power of the NFL, but in South Korea the game’s spectator appeal more than likely outperforms our own provincial and Super rugby tournaments here in New Zealand. Matches are broadcast on three television networks, and the best players are revered almost as Richie McCaw or Dan Carter might be here. Many of them are even paid in the hundreds of thousands owing to lucrative sponsorship deals.
Drawing further comparisons to traditional sport, some Seattlites kicked off the BarCraft phenomenon last year, where a bar streams competitive StarCraft matches and acts as a meeting place for those with a shared love of the game. It’s just like what you’d see at any given sports bar, except instead of NBA, MLB or whatever, it’s Major League Gaming or Global StarCraft League matches of StarCraft II.
BarCraft has now made its way to Auckland, with a central-city bar playing host to the country’s first such event last weekend thanks to the efforts of some of the local gaming community’s most laborious advocates. The event gained serious traction and support in only a few short days thanks to social media. I was interested to attend anyway, but this perceived social-media success story led me to file this piece for Social Media NZ.
Gaming’s still got a long way to go before it’s accepted as a legitimate competitive activity by the masses. But the similarities to mainstream sporting events and professional models are becoming harder and harder to dispute.