I wrote a short opinion last week about using more real names to refer to professional players than of nicknames. This got me thinking about what could be done to make eSports more popular in America. Between Europe, America, and Asia, America is the furthest behind in terms of accepting eSports as a real sport and valid profession. eSports have definitely grown in America, but the average American still does not know what eSports is and how much fun it is to watch.
The first-person shooter (FPS), fighting, and real-time strategy (RTS) game genres are the most popular within the eSports community, but RTS, or strategy in general, has the best chance of going mainstream. This is because America has a history of rejecting violent videogames. It just so happens FPS and Fighting games are the two most cited game genres by the press and worried parents as “violent” and not suitable for children to play or view. It is hard to justify shooting people in the head or beating them up to parents, even if they are not real people.
Real-time strategy does not have that baggage to deal with. It is easy to draw comparisons with chess, a respected game in America. There are already professional chess players. RTS would just be seen as the electronic extension of chess. Now, you might think turn-based strategy would be better. Chess is turn-based, so a turn-based game would be even easier to compare to. Well, turn-based games are just too long to keep viewers interested. A typical Civilization game takes 4 hours, and there is not much action.
So right now Starcraft 2 is the game of choice for eSports in America. It is always possible another game will come along that is even better than Starcraft 2 for eSports, but right now Starcraft 2 is our best hope. It is definitely not the perfect, especially since Blizzard Entertainment does not really foster the eSports environment. They do not do any advertising really, even for their own tournaments. Battle.net does not have tools to make tournaments easy to setup and execute. Blizzard refuses to add a LAN mode for tournaments. Maybe in the future we will have a better game, but Starcraft 2 it is for now.
What this means is that the eSports community needs to support Starcraft 2 eSports as much as possible. It has grown quite bit already since the game’s release in 2010, but it is still far from being considered legitimate by the average American. Putting money into many different games will splinter the eSports community. We need to focus on one game, and right now that should be Starcraft 2.
Starcraft 2 as an eSport is already doing well compared to other eSports, but it could be improved quite a bit with a few key changes. Over the next few weeks I am going to write a series of “Improving Starcraft 2 eSports” posts on the changes I think will push eSports to the mainstream in America.