Wednesday, November 19, 2008

News for 11/19/08: The End of an Error

This week in news we discuss the end of the Championship Gaming Series, a concoction brewed for television that smells like ESPN and bad high school memories. Seriously, if you have never seen any CGS event, check out these youtube videos before reading. They will give you a pretty good impression of what the gaming world will lose. If you feel heated about the Series, or if you are a pro-gamer with important insight, please leave your comments below.

Jorge: Let us pause to mourn the death of the Championship Gaming Series. It lived a bright but all to short life... like a candle in the wind Scott... a candle in the wind...

Scott: Hold on, let me put away the world's smallest violin I was playing in tribute. Here's the greatest thing: the title of their farewell notice was "An Idea Whose Time Came too Early."

Jorge: I like how presumptuous they are: They could make more money in the future, but now is just not the right time.

Scott: Such visionaries.

Scott: You've actually seen competitive gaming in person, right?

Jorge: Yea, at Blizzcon they had Starcraft and World of Warcraft tournaments going on. They had flashy slanted televisions, green backdrops, and a couple of attractive announcers yelling into mics about how exciting and mind blowing it all was. It was all very weird and uncomfortable.

Scott: Which makes their failure as a company understandable.

Jorge: Have you ever participated in competitive gaming Scott? Are you that l33t?

Scott: Not even close.

Jorge: Isn't this something popularly abroad? I recall seeing a stadium full of people watching a Starcraft tournament somewhere on the Internet. If it works overseas, how come it doesn't work here?

Scott: It seems like if this was going to happen in the U.S. it would have happened already.

Jorge: Yea, but I wonder why. I think I actually would watch a Smash Bros. tournament. That could be rad.

Scott: It seems like everything that these CGS folks were doing, except for the massive prize money, could be done by normal gamers with their own equipment and youtube.

Jorge: I think one of the fatal characteristics is the forced, top-down approach where these figureheads are trying to shove "e-sports" down our throats. It's so canned. Maybe gaming is not exciting enough for this treatment. Just give up.

Scott: There are plenty of people who will watch the Superbowl of Football, even though they don't play football. I don't think there are many people who would watch the Superbowl of Counter Strike if they didn't already play CS.

Jorge: But I think I would be interested in watching people play videogames I don't have. If I am at work and can't play games, I might actually enjoy watching others play, even just to hear their strategizing.

Scott: It can be fun watching people compete at the highest level, to excel at something, but it seems like it would only appeal to folks that are already into games.

Jorge: So if this could be marketed well, do you think championship gaming would be a good thing? Are we missing the "competitive edge"?

Scott: I could see myself getting into it recreationally: using it as background noise while I'm surfing the web or brainstorming post ideas.

Jorge: Right, it would be a good substitute for actual gaming. But why then have the competitive aspect when I can just watch an average team play TF2?

Scott: But how about the celebrity issue: what if there become superstar players? Like how Bret Favre has a following regardless what team he's on, would some players become entities larger than the teams?

Jorge: Maybe, but I don't think it could happen. I know I will never become a football player. I will never be an eight foot tall behemoth with a good throwing arm. However, I think most gamers believe they could be professional gamers if they had enough time to invest. Also, no matter how exciting a 64 person match of Resistance 2 to can be, it will never lend itself well to broadcasting. That is just a limitation of filming such an event, so I doubt there could be a Favre of gaming.

Scott: Did you ever have that phase growing up when you thought you could hack it as a pro-gamer?

Jorge: No, never. I watched The Wizard and thought "Wow. That kid is way better at videogames than me."

Scott: I think there's a major philosophical and artistic aspect to this conversation, since we look at games as art, rather than sport. How could you have a competition based on creativity or vision?

Jorge: I would really like to see Iron Chef for game developers! Jonathan Blow versus Shigeru Miyamoto. They've got a team of ten coders, and one month to make the coolest side-scrolling platformer imaginable!

Scott: I think the ethos of competitive gaming subverts most of the analysis we do on our site.

Scott: I'm afraid that if competitive gaming took off, it would push the market towards something like Counter Strike and away from something like World of Goo.

Jorge: And those outside the gaming world may perceive videogames as that type of non-serious purely competitive experience.

Scott: I think the real solution is to go away from "competitive gaming" as a blanket category and instead just focus on competitions in certain games.

Scott: Instead of "competitive gaming," just "competitive StarCraft" or "competitive TF2."

Jorge: I agree, and this is something that has to come from the gamers and publishers. In which case CGS is right about future profitability. CGS may rise again... *shudder*

Scott: It can "rise again?" Like the South?

Jorge: Or zombies... or confederate zombies.

Scott: The very worst kind.


  1. You were right about seeing competitive starcraft outside the states. In Korea it is a VERY popular "sport" even today. I think that it actually started over there and this was an attempt at adapting that. No go though.... epic fail.

  2. Yeah, in Korea everyone knows about "E-sports." There is one channel that is devoted to nothing but Starcraft games,and the top players have fan clubs and groupies.

  3. @Andrew and Will

    I'm interested in why it is so popular in Korea and why it hasn't taken off in the U.S.?

    Is it a function of differing cultural tastes, or maybe technological saturation?