Soapbox: An Open Letter to the CS Community

BY Andrew Miesner / August 12, 2011

Soapbox: An Open Letter to the CS Community

by Jonny “mR.Waffles” Fuller

Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.

It has been a long time coming friends. I consider myself lucky to have witnessed the golden years of competitive gaming FPS gaming in North America as a teenager and then later as a competitor. I remember playing in a pub, Striker 2000, and just worshipping the older guys with such talent. I remember driving to northern VA to the grand opening of my fellow pubber Mint’s Lanferno and watching Miller play. I remember the excitement only a 16 year old could feel, jumping into a car with his friends and team mates to drive to New York City to meet people I had only known online to compete. I am almost embarrassed to realize Counter-Strike has been an active aspect of half of my entire life. I’m sure there’s a Half-Life pun there somewhere. It was 12 years ago a friend brought over a disk entitled “Half-Life” and we found a mod that changed the course of my life. I tried to quit due to excessive play in addition to a genetic bone condition that damaged my wrist and required multiple surgeries. However, I always came back. I could recite stories for pages, but I won’t bore you. I just want you to understand how important Counter-Strike and last night’s news of an impending new release is to me.

Solidarity is critical. The split between 1.6, CZ, and CS:S decimated the community. Granted, the 1.6 community remained in Europe, but I am strictly referring to the North American scene. We could argue for years as to which game is better and why, but that’s not productive. Each has value, but we must consider this important question above all else: “How can we best kick off an e-Sports FPS revival in North America?” The simple answer is that we must unify the tribes. If you want to play a competitive RTS there is only one option, Starcraft 2. The FPS e-sports community suffers from a million titles. Notice, I do not refer to an e-sports revival. The future has never looked so promising for e-sports. We are already seeing an amazing revival. Look at what the Starcraft 2 community has achieved in only a year. It’s a bittersweet feeling watching MLG Starcraft display everything I ever wanted for Counter-Strike.

Unification behind a new Counter-Strike makes sense. First of all, Starcraft 2 would not have the non-player fan base if it was not attractive. New graphics matter! Intel and Nvidia do not get an opportunity to show their latest and greatest hardware on a 10 year old game that could run on a ti-83 calculator. A newer, shinier, more robust Counter-Strike will allow for greater sponsorship opportunities and spectators will appreciate the upgrade. From a competitive stand point, only a Counter-Strike sequel possesses the clout to unite the distinct tribes of FPS behind one flag. It’s been 12 years and there have been no contenders outside of the franchise for the FPS e-sports throne.

Years ago during the CS:S, 1.6, or ProMod controversy, I wrote an article arguing against implementation of a ProMod for Source. I detailed how in order for the competitive community to survive it needs a public community as a lead in for the professional scene. A new release will increase the player base with gamers who have never experienced a CS game before. Imagine a four way split between 1.6, CZ, CS:S, and CS:GO. All of us started out in a public server before venturing forth into irc and #findscrim, and therefore the last thing we needed was another separation. This still holds true.

We also need to improve our community. The CS community holds the honor of being regarded slightly higher than the infamous cesspool that is League of Legends and HoN. Look at the fan interaction in Starcraft. Look at how the entire community bands together with the common goal of improving everyone’s skill level and the state of the game. Secrets are shared and strategies are rapidly advanced. I know there is a difference because of the one versus one adversarial nature of Starcraft and the team oriented tradition of Counter-Strike. In CS, the mentality has always been “us, our team” against “them,” whereas in Starcraft, everyone must grow together. I do not expect this to change, and I miss the trash talking on the old CAL Forums just as much as anyone, but we need to keep in mind that the community will need to support itself.

We cannot count on Valve for anything. They clearly have no idea what they are doing in regards to today’s subject. Look at their plans for the DoTA 2 launch. Who plans a 1.7 million dollar tournament for a game no one can play? Even I, who loathe DoTA, would buy the game if I had the opportunity to practice for a few months and then compete. It would be an infinitely better marketing investment to hold ten 100,000 dollar tour stops for DoTA 2 after release. That way gamers would purchase the game in an effort to win a spot at a tournament, and in addition, keep the game in the news. Valve holds the highest selling, most competitive, longest longevity team FPS, which is the center in the collective e-sports mind. They have plans to release a sequel, but are unsure if they will host a huge tournament? I am so glad Valve is a private company, because if I owned shares and heard that marketing strategy I would topple over management. People, it is up to us.

Maybe I should re-title this piece “An Open Letter to the FPS e-Sports Community”. I want all of us to unite. I want 1.6, CS:S, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Brink, AvA, Quake Live, and yes even the two guys still playing Unreal Tournament to step up. Play hard. Go Pro.

What is a soapbox?

A soapbox is a raised platform on which one stands to make an impromptu speech. The term originates from the days when speakers would elevate themselves by standing on a wooden crate originally used for shipment of soap or other dry goods from a manufacturer to a retail store.

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