The move from casual to competitive focus in gaming

DISCLAIMER:  As I have not yet purchased Mcgonigal’s book, I have made this post just based on my general knowledge of gaming.  I will purchase the text this week.

Up until now, there has undoubtedly been a focus on a casual scene as opposed to competitive.   This is obviously because the money in an industry comes from the consumer base, and you always try to make a consumer base as wide as possible.  As a result, the most popular games that represent the current industry (Call of Duty,  Assassin’s Creed, Madden NFL series) have been designed for mass consumption in order to achieve said consumer base.   When I say this, I particularly mean that the games are built to be easy and quickly rewarding.  Currently, that is where all the money is.  They get to crank out a new game in each series every year, and they will continue to sell like hotcakes.

However!  I believe there is a new age on the horizon- where competitive games may in fact become the new focus.  I base this on two particular instances, both of which have happened recently.

First of all, I would address Nintendo’s recent embrace of the competitive Smash Bros scene.  After a history of conflict between Nintendo and this competitive scene, the company seems to have moved on, as they just announced they will be hosting a 16 person smash featuring the most famous competitive players- and they are hosting this tournament as a way to advertise their next game in the series.  They have even changed the aspects of this newest addition to allow for a more competitive side (for example, the addition of the “For Glory!” mode, which only features one stage, and removes the more random elements for a more direct competition).

My second point is the League of Legends tournament hosted by the Staples Center in 2013.  This event became famous for selling out tickets to spectators…. for a video game.  This is interesting because if the spectator aspect of video games became more popular, then the money in the industry could move into spectator events, which revolve around competitive games.

Because of these two instances, I think it is possible that games in the future will need to move to a more competitive standard, in order to compete with other games that are more competitive.

Maybe, anyway.  I would be pretty excited about this myself.

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2 thoughts on “The move from casual to competitive focus in gaming”

  1. As an avid eSports fan, someone who has followed the competitive scene of videogames for years through games like Warcraft III, Starcraft, DotA, DOTA 2, Starcraft 2, and am now actively involved in the League of Legends scene, I have seen first hand the growth of competitive gaming. It’s easy to see already in young people in college campuses around the nation that this phenomenon is growing more and more popular, but in countries overseas and especially in South Korea and China, eSports is a thriving form of entertainment. Some numbers given by Riot Games (the developers of League of Legends) on viewership during the World Championship 2013 show that 32+ million total people watched the event, with a peak of 8.5 million tuning in at the same time. They also have records of the 2012 World Championship viewership, which show a total of 8.2 million and a peak of 1.1 million. That growth is absolutely insane for one year! Not to mention like you said, the Staple Center (for anyone who doesn’t know, its the sporting arena where the LA Kings play hockey and the LA Lakers play Basketball) was sold out, and here’s one important feature you left out, IN AN HOUR. Riot Games has also partnered with big name sponsors such as Coca-Cola, American Express, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and the current North American Champions were sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Reserve just a few days ago. Also recently, Riot Games introduced “Fantasy LCS” just like Fantasy Football or Fantasy Hockey. I’ve no doubt that this spectator sport is going to keep growing exponentially, and if other games like Smash decide to grow their competitive scene, who knows where it could go?

  2. From my experience of playing video games, I have actually always thought them to be competitive rather than causally. Yes, the older games such as Super Mario Bros. or Ms. Pacman were meant for one person to play, but there was always that inkling for passing a particular level or getting a higher score than the person who played before. I have always thought for video games to be competitive rather than spent playing casually. For example, I know when I play candy crush, I get upset when I cannot beat a certain level. After finally beating the level, I look to see how much better I was at the level than my friends. Video games address our natural competitive nature. If we really ponder the idea abiut the state of video games, they have b
    always been competitive rather than causal. I can look at personal experience amd remember playing Super Mario Bros. or Ms. Pacman. Even thoug they were one player games, I always tried to beat the level or see if I can obtain a higher score than the player before me. That competitive state has never left the industry. The games have changed but the competitive nature has still stayed the same.

    However, just as you are excited about the future state of competitiveness in video games, I am too. I am always fascinated about the different ideas people have and construct to keep our attention focused on figments of one’s imagination.

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