The Devil Plays Protoss: Conscious eSports Consumer

BY Andrew Miesner / July 4, 2011

The Devil Plays Protoss: Conscious eSports Consumer

by Jacqueline Geller

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.


A friend of mine sent me a text last Tuesday asking if I was attending a local LAN party, Fragapalooza. I gave a handful of excuses as to why I wasn’t interested in attending the event, but when I really thought about it, the bottom line was that as a conscious consumer, I am not okay with paying the registration fee.

I was required to study international apparel trade policy in university, and I take a genuine interest in where products come from, what I buy and what my money supports. I am a conscious consumer, even though I do make consumer choices that I would consider negative on a regular basis. Local eating is a phenomenal concept that I would love to put into practice, but it just isn’t viable where I live, especially with my budget. I do care where my money goes and what the companies I support are doing, though, and I try my best to support companies that I believe in what they do.

I do not want to support Fragapalooza and refuse to pay the steep, $95 registration fee. I will preface the rest of my article by saying that I have never attended the event, but I’ve heard it’s tons of fun. What about hanging out with your friends for four days gaming doesn’t sound fun? I like the idea, but I dislike the practice. My lack of support has nothing to do with who is attending or the fact that Fragapalooza is not a high profile event. There are monthly SC2 tournaments at local LAN centres, and I adore attending them. I’ve never competed in one, but I love to hang out, cheer on my friends and meet new people. I love being a part of the local SC2 community, and I have met some incredible and inspiring people. My lack of support for Fragapalooza has nothing to do with the local community.

Fraga started out as a Quake event in 1997 but grew to include other video games over the years. At this year’s LAN, there will be three official TBD tournaments, but participants are encouraged to play whichever game they are passionate about while there. SC2, due to its popularity and the paying crowd it brings in, was included in the tournament last year and will undoubtedly be included in this year’s. To draw a comparison, Dreamhack started in 1994 as a similar small LAN party, and look what its dedication to the community has turned it into. Dreamhack is a massive, 10 000 plus LAN party that boasts impressive tournaments with epic players. Why has Fraga not become a similar LAN party? With sweat, tears and hard work, Fragapalooza could have been the Canadian equivalent to Dreamhack but has not progressed with the rest of the gaming world. Imagine what the tag-line could have been for this year’s SC2 tournament: “HuK Returns Home.” From what I have heard, the LAN makes a decent amount of money for the organizers who have zero motivation to grow the tournament. It seems as though Fragapalooza cares about running a LAN party to make money and includes tournaments to attract customers. It does not seem to care to grow or do anything to foster the growth of eSports.

That is not a Starcraft2 tournament. That is a “Who Can 6-Pool, Proxy Gate or Marine Rush the BEST!!!” tournament.

The proof that the LAN organizers do not seem to care about competitive gaming is abundant. The tournament portion of the event appears to be just a method to encourage people to attend. Last year’s SC2 tournament boasted an interesting twist where the time it took to win a match was included in determining who advanced out of the round robins. Two players could have the same win rate, but the player whose games took less time advanced. That is not a Starcraft2 tournament. That is a “Who Can 6-Pool, Proxy Gate or Marine Rush the BEST!!!” tournament. This does not encourage epic plays, unique build orders and the advancement of Starcraft. Part of the beauty of the game is that it allows for all different play styles with endless options. No SC2 fan would ever say that players who win faster is the better player. Would anyone involved in the eSports community suggest this method of tie-breaking for any game? LAN party organizers, especially those who may or may not play SC2, may not know much about how the game is played or how to run a tournament properly, but a handful of competitive SC2 players from the local community voiced their concerns about the tournament on the Fragapalooza forums. Concerns ranged from the format of the tournament to the prize pool. The competitive players offered constructive feedback of how to improve the tournament format. None of the feedback was met with open arms and only sparked debate. Time was named as one of the biggest excuses for the tournament format. The LAN party itself is 4 days but the tournaments are, for whatever reason, only two days long, and the organizers are stuck on that number. Based on the fact that our local tournaments takes 12 hrs to run a double elimination tournament with 50 participants, it seems reasonable that a 75 person tournament could be run in two days. Mitchell “Gofarman” MacPherson runs the local monthly SC2 tournaments and even offered to volunteer to run the Fragapalooza tournament, and based on the responses I’ve seen, I’d be surprised it they considered it.

Yes, Fragapalooza is a LAN party first and foremost. It is not meant to be a big tournament nor is the tournament the main attraction. The majority of the registration fee goes to the costs of running the tournament and to the tournament organizers, but that does not mean that it can run its tournaments properly to support and foster competitive gaming. Why does the event not expand to attract more participants and effectively market itself to grow? A good friend of mine who is active in the SC2 community did not even know Fraga existed until I talked to him about the subject of my article. There are dozens of excuses that can be given as to why the event has not expanded like Dreamhack from the widespread Canadian population to the lack of a solid transpiration system like Europe’s. I’ve heard it argued that the Fraga organizers have lives outside of gaming, but if the event organizers made solid efforts to grow the event, they could start to expand it by hiring a part-time staff member. Small, baby steps towards making a kick-ass gaming event. Take a look at the tournament’s website, and judge for yourself if you think it has been putting in the right effort. I have no doubts that more people would travel to or choose to compete if the event expanded. Should it not be a goal of every gaming event to expand, grow and develop? Regardless of the tournament, I am not impressed by the lack of drive that I see from Fragapalooza.


MLG Pro-Circuit

When it comes to supporting gaming events, I am not hard to please. I’m not sitting at home, watching MLG and critiquing every little thing that is wrong. There are problems with every event, but there is something to love about every event, too. Each one has its strengths, and each one has its weaknesses. I am sure if I attended Fragapalooza, there would be something I find to love about it, too. What I want to see, though, is plans, improvement and the drive to further the gaming community. Take a look at MLG. I have nothing but mad respect for Sundance and the rest of the MLG team. We all know MLG Dallas had some problems. We all know MLG Columbus had some problems. But more importantly, we all have seen how MLG is committed to constant improvement, growth and committed to the community. The stream is having issues? Free HQ streams for all! I’m attending MLG Anaheim and I’m not going to lie: it’s a big financial commitment. I want to support MLG, though, and attending is how I am showing my support.

For the price of the Fragapalooza LAN party entrance fee, I can get an HD pass for NASL Seasons 2 & 3, an HD pass for the next Homestory Cup and a MLG Gold Membership. As a consumer, I have a choice to give my financial support to the gaming events that I want to succeed. Sure, my registration fee is a minimal loss to Fragapalooza that won’t even matter, but if over the years, others choose to not support it for similar reasons, it may not succeed especially if those who have supported it decide to start their own LAN party with a SC2 tournament run their own way.

When it comes to being a paying consumer, you have the choice to where your money goes. Just because something happens to involve gaming or happens to involve eSports in some capacity does not mean you need to support it. As corny as this will sound, stand up for what you believe in and support the things you truly want to succeed. If you want eSports to succeed, whether it’s Halo Reach, League of Legends or anything, support the causes that you think are doing it right. More importantly, stop supporting the ones you think are doing it wrong.

About the Author – Jacqueline Geller

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.

View Jacqueline’s profile here.
Visit @jacquelinesg on Twitter