As some of you may know, I have a younger brother. Nothing totally surprising about that. This weekend, Kerry is up in Brisbane playing in a Starcraft tournament. Of course, because he’s my brother I know nothing about the tournament or what it’s called, so I can’t link to it. 🙂
I wanted to use this post to discuss the gaming industry a little bit and share some things that have become obvious as Kerry has continued to get better and better at playing. We’ve grown to understand the addiction that can come with playing ‘WoW’ and things like that, but the general punter probably hasn’t considered how much effort is required to push towards the top of the leaderboards in these games. Like anything, it takes discipline, effort and a lot of practice.
1. If he were a chess master…
Imagine the situation. Someone walks up to you in a bar and says “I’m a grand master chess player and I have just won a game that was watched by 150,000 people.”
You’d be pretty impressed. You’d also think immediately that this person you were chatting to was probably fairly intelligent and that they were a disciplined person.
Now consider the difference if someone said “I’m a master level Starcraft/WoW player and I just won a game that was watched by 150,000 people.”
You may not be so impressed. You may think “Phhff…Starcraft? What is that? A computer game? Lame!”
What I’m saying, is there’s not such a difference. Chess is well regarded, Starcraft and computer games in general, perhaps not so much. I believe we’re missing a very big opportunity here to celebrate people with very diverse, digital skill sets with this mindset.
2. More people watch Starcraft replays than many sports replays
Ok, I have no stats to back that up. 🙂
But following Kerry a little bit on his journey has opened my eyes to the various communities that exist on the internet to follow these sorts of games. Just last week, Kez had a game of his commentated and featured on this YouTube channel. The replay has so far had 145,327 viewers. That’s more than can sit in the MCG. Wow.
3. The gaming participants self organise themselves
I also used to work with Tom Stiller, a raid leader for a successful WoW guild. Tom was always happy to show me his world and walk me through how they selected and recruited guild members and how they trained and organised their missions. It was nothing short of a 20-30 hour per week job. The guild was about 15-20 people large, all contributing similar amounts of time.
Jane McGonigal spoke at TED about gaming being able to save the world. With people like Kerry and Tom participating all over the world, developing the skills they’re picking up in these digital realms, I have no doubt that she’s right.