The value of professionalism and the cost of hype.
Money. This is the first word, it will be the last.
The person playing a game is ultimately doing it to be entertained.
The gaming athlete is doing it to win.
The professional athlete is playing the game to win, while making money for their sponsor.
Sponsors want to market their product to as wide an audience as possible.
The widest audience is one that does not approve of sexism, racism and general offensive behaviour.
On the road to achieving that wide audience, a quick (and dirty) way to gain attention is to cause a scene.
Much like a helicopter accident, people can’t help but want to have a look, and if there’s a product cleverly placed or a logo at the scene, the people present will remember it, whether they want to or not.
The sponsor cannot be involved in causing the scene as it will damage the reputation of the product. There needs to be a fall guy.
This is where the gaming athlete or commentator who “doesn’t give an f” comes in.
Yes, that loveable person who, while adored by the anonymous masses, failed to realise that as soon as they were in front of the camera, became accountable.
Who doesn’t love being wild and free on the Internet? It’s a liberating experience, to say whatever you want, to whomever you want, without fear of reprecussion. This is what avatars and usernames are made for.
This is why Facebook and live camera feeds are not as much fun. In reality, when people are not anonymous, there are consequences for being offensive.
Professional athletes and commentators are assets. They generate finance for a company. They are still expendable, and make for excellent fall guys.
If an asset causes a scene, it’s good for the company because it draws attention to the product, then the company just has to act like they care about ethics/morals/being professional and discipline the asset, sometimes making a bigger scene by firing them.
Which stream would you rather watch? Athletes swearing at each other while commentators hurl racist abuse or athletes competing, letting their play do the talking?
Believe it or not, the wider audience wants the latter.
This is why WWE went PG, this is why some people view E-sports as a threat to gaming culture.
Where money is involved, a family orientated approach will take over.
Gone will be the back alley hustle, in will come the polished machines and sparkling teeth.
If you don’t want this, you will have to stop watching the main streams and look for the car-park-at-midnight set-ups.
Orochinagi is going to continue what it’s been doing from the start:
While Alan Francois (aka Gunsmith) is on the mic, he will challenge any homophobia, sexism or racism he hears from his co-host. That co-host is still free to speak their mind; they will bear the repercussions, such as ruining their chances of going professional, or going on a stream when companies such as SNKP and RSG are involved. If that commentator doesn’t care about that, more power to them (and more entertainment for the viewers – they love arguments). Orochinagi <3 fall guys.
Saying that, professional streams don’t have to contain arguments, large breasts or offensive material to be entertaining, it should be all about the gameplay. If a commentator can’t make a game sound interesting without talking offtopic, it means the match is unwatchable or they simply do not have the skills. At a tournament, it is rarely the latter.
Drama can certainly add to a match, but have you ever wondered why attendees at a live event don’t hear commentaries? They don’t need to, being there is hype enough. Sitting behind a computer screen or tv is nothing in comparison. Nothing.
The article will now take a swerve, as the point should be clear enough.
People who have read this far really need to consider attending events this year. The 70s generation are getting near retirement age and the coming of e-sports is going to bring the culture out of the back streets and into the spotlight.
And when it does, people will realise how cheap event tickets used to be. Those e-sport events have big audiences; as more people play the fighting games that are featured at MLG, the effect will ripple through the scene as organisers will try to emulate their profit. Fighting games will become even more mainstream.
What does this change for you? If you’re the casual player, nothing. As the viewer, big tournaments will involve a lot of suits rather than hoods and baseball caps. Gameplay and free for all stream chat will not change.
If you’re a tournament fighter or commentator, the question you have to face (which will dictate how you act in public) is whether you’re in it for the game… or are you competing for the money?