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.
The esports community is new and experiencing growing pains. From prize pool drama to game titles losing popularity, the uncharted waters of esports are vast, and the community is still finding its footing.
One the those growing pains of esports is identity crisis. What is an esport? What competitive game titles qualify as an esport? Are there requirements that must be met in order for a game to be given the elusive esports badge of recognition? While some games are easier to identify one way or the other, there are areas of gray that will one day be easier to define. As I’m comparatively new to the esports scene, I prefer to listen to the opinions of my elders (see: the Live on Three hosts) when it comes to esports history and defining esports, and I won’t make a sweeping generalization about what’s considered an esport in this article.
Esports enthusiasts can often be simply fans of one esport. Despite waving the mighty esports flag, there are fans who only enjoy one game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if fans are accepting and supportive of other games, but if we’re trying to grow the community, it’s best if individuals don’t blindly hate against other games. I would consider myself an esports fan, but I will admit that I lived in the SC2 bubble for a long time. I’d dabble in other games as a casual gamer or stream viewer, but I can’t say that I regularly watched other competitive titles or participated actively in communities outside of SC2. It’s not that I disliked other games, it’s just that I enjoyed the familiarity and comfort of the SC2 bubble.
This weekend, I took a big leap outside of the SC2 world and attended Canada Cup, the biggest fighting game tournament in the country. While the fighting game community is still determining its relationship with esports from its arcade roots, I think that the signs that fighting games are becoming more and more involved within the esports community are apparent. Top players like Justin Wong and Mike Ross are on major esports teams like Evil Geniuses and compLexity, and tournaments like MLG and IEM are trying to find a place for the FGC within their tournaments.
Why did I, a SC2 fan, attend this major FGC event? I thought that it would be fun to try something new and a good learning opportunity. I knew practically nothing about the FGC aside from a handful of top players names and achievements, and I knew that I’d be a fish out of water. The tournament was a mere three hour drive away, though, so why not? Let’s be honest, how often does a major esports tournament make its way to Alberta, Canada? Not often, and I wasn’t about to miss an event that was practically in my backyard.
I had a blast over the weekend and learned a ton about the FGC. The atmosphere is nothing like anything I had ever experienced in esports thus far. I’ve been in a huge crowd at an esports event before, but the energy that this community has is completely different. The origins of the FGC is in the arcade culture, and raw passion is infectious. Side betting and money matches are the financial focal point of the tournament scene, and it makes every match even more exciting. I lost $10 to Ben “FishStix” Goldhaber during the 5v5 Team Canada vs Team USA game, and having money on the line made the hype more intense. At the end of a long day of gaming, the players want nothing more than to game more. It’s inspiring and a nice change of pace from the SC2 community.
The best part of the esports community is the people, their stories and their personalities. Regardless of which game the person plays, from Halo to CoD, from SC2 to LoL, I have met some incredible and inspiring people. Canada Cup was no different, and I met some of the most incredible people this weekend. I reconnected with old friends like LoL player Samuel “Yuhn” Wong and Kelly Milkies, and I made new ones like Martin “MaRN” Phan. As much as I respect and appreciate, SC2 players, the FGC community and legends are the most genuine and down to earth people that you’ll meet. It was nice to meet FGC community icons and discover that they were polite, kind and friendly. People are what make a community. The passionate people are what drives this whole community of esports, and the one thing that makes us all the same is our enthusiasm, excitement and love of the game. At events, do your best to meet as many people as possible, even if it’s just the people who sit beside you in the crowd.
What’s the moral of this feel good, girl falling in love with a new community story? Don’t be afraid to try something new or to get involved with an unfamiliar facet of the esports community. You never know what you may like or enjoy. If you’re a diehard esports fan, be accepting of titles that you’re not a fan of. I’m not telling you to love every single game and watch all the esports, but don’t write off a game as a competitive title because you don’t think that you’d like it. A fan of soccer may not love hockey, but in a community as new as ours, blind hating doesn’t do any good. Constructive criticism and feedback, sure, but hating before experiencing is not the way to grow a community. If you have the opportunity to check out another esport, do it!
After years of playing World of Warcraft, a friend introduced Jacqueline to Starcraft early last year. Jacqueline’s relationship with Starcraft started out slowly: a handful of casual dates, a little bit of flirting but nothing serious. She took her relationship with the game to the next level after BlizzCon 2010 where she experienced eSports magic first-hand and realized that Starcraft was the one. Despite being a mediocre player, she has been clambering the ladder at a glacial pace and has spent more time watching Starcraft online than she’d like to admit. In March, Jacqueline made the leap from eSports fan to eSports professional when she was hired by the Handsome Nerd as their Art Director, combining her design skills with her love of Starcraft. Since its start in April, Jacqueline has been a contributing writer for the North American Star League, writing coverage for Division 1. Offline, Jacqueline is a bookworm, a runner, a freeride snowboarder and has a Human Ecology degree with a Clothing and Textiles major.