Earlier today Venture Beat posted an article with polling data on esports fans who have attended live events — not only attended, but as spectators and specifically not as participants. Much like professional sports, the pro scene in esports has a strong following, arguably a stronger (though not necessarily better) social media presence due to the more unfiltered and less politically correct realm of the internet community.
VB (in conjunction with Evenbrite) see over 80% of fans attending live events to be a part of the community and to watch their favorite players and teams live. Many fans, 61%, also go to connect with friends they play with online.
As a former player — not at the highest level, but relatively close — in both first-person shooters (specifically Counter-Strike 1.5 and 1.6) and real-time strategy games such as StarCraft II, the connecting with friends part is huge. From old LAN centers such as Warfactory in St. Louis, Missouri to CygamZ in Ypsilanti, Michigan, my team(s) and I enjoyed the travel and the live events in a way online couldn’t match.
Back in the day my teams used voice programs such as Ventrilo mostly, though originally we used the even older Roger Wilco to communicate in-game. When we weren’t scrimmaging (aka scrimming) or working on timing strategies, we would often hang out in our mIRC channels and just shoot the breeze. Similar to coaches going over post-game film, our team would often watch demos of ourselves together, take notes, make recommendations and adjustments. We would even scout opposing teams in upcoming matches or swap tactics with other teams in our divisions, and basically have a scouting report. For example, if we knew one particularly member on the opposing team was hyper-aggressive or overly passive, we would adjust our strategies to exploit that.
Living or rooming together to develop strategies and bonds between teammates even has a specific term in the gaming industry: bootcamping. North American CS:GO team Cloud9 often does bootcamps and recorded two last year prior to a major LANs. Other teams live together in literal team houses, mostly in South Korea and throughout Europe.
While my experiences are of course subjective and anecdotal, seeing the vast majority of fellow gamers agree doesn’t surprise. From literally playing games in my parent’s basement to traveling to compete with the best North America had to offer, I wouldn’t change a thing about my gaming career. To see esports take off to such a level that ESPN shows games, media outlets conducting interviews with pro players and the sheer size of prize pools, I may have to get the band back together.
(Header image via ESL)
You can catch David spouting off about baseball, soccer, esports and other things by following him on twitter, @davidwiers.