Competitive video games have been around since the earliest days in video games. Pong, soccer, that game with the tanks…at least I think they were tanks. No one had ever paid them much attention outside of gaming, with a few aberrations popping up over the years. Probably the first to get any sort of public recognition was Street Fighter II. However, it wasn’t until the internet came around that competitive gaming really hit full swing. LAN parties and such for the PC were always around, but were obviously limited in scope, as there was no money, and gamers back in that day were still mainly young people, who did not have a dime to their name, and could not afford to travel, and carry their rig with them. Once the internet came upon the world in full force however, shit changed. Slowly at first, but seriously, look around now.
One of the more popular games throughout the history of competitive gaming has been Starcraft, by Blizzard. Starcraft: Brood War as far as I can tell was the first game to be called an E-Sport. Koreans everywhere (Other races too…I think) flocked to the game, and I am pretty sure they played it right up until the second Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty came out. Now I have never played Starcraft 1, nor the expansion, which I guess is still technically Starcraft 1. It is. Moving on.
Like I said, I never played Starcraft 1, which is a bit odd because back in the day of old pc gaming, I was quite the RTS fan. Age of Empires was a game series, both the first and second one that were always spinning in my CD-ROM drive. In retrospect I wish I got more into Starcraft, as then I could have been as psyched for the release of Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty. As it stood, when the game came out, I was not interested, my affection for RTS games had waned a bit over the years, and again, never being into the first game made me not inclined to play this one.
Since then however, I have gone through a few gaming taste changes. I ended up getting Starcraft 2 somewhat recently and I am loving the hell out of it. This made one of my friends, Jon a very happy camper, as he had been telling me since the damn game came out to get it. Well now I have it, and I only have a few Practice League matches left before I get tossed out into the real world of getting my ass kicked.
Almost as important for me though as playing Starcraft is getting into the community for this game. Blizzard seems to make games that invite this odd sense of community, that honestly is unmatched. World of Warcraft has a huge community of bloggers, writers, comic makers, etc, which is where I was headed for a while in my own writing. The Starcraft 2 community, while not at seemingly varied as the types you see in the WoW fandom, is still quite large, and prolific. This is especially on the side of either recording your matches, or streaming live matches, both practice and official tournament games for the fun of the gaming masses.
I have been really getting into watching Starcraft 2 streams, from a variety of sources. What started as a passing fancy thanks to Procraft by Total Biscuit, has turned into this full-fledged spectator sport for me. Well it so happens that I am not the only person that feels this way about watching others play this game, and people in business have started to take notice. Enter Barcraft.
Last week, I spent my Saturday at Legend’s Sports Bar in Manhattan, only a block away from Penn Station, guzzling Long Island Iced Teas and watching Major League Gaming on the TV’s. What game was playing? Star-fucking-Craft 2. It was amazing. This was not some rinky-dink outfit either. This is a three-floor, classy fucking sports bar, serving Starcraft-themed drinks, with about 100 people cheering on the virtual warfare. It’s honestly jaw-dropping, the idea that gaming has come this far. I got drunk, talked to a random Korean with a horrible accent, (not joking) and watched some pro gamers kick each others asses. The best part about all of this was that I realized I am recognizing names as they pop up more and more in my Starcraft viewing time. It’s as if that the gamers of the world are getting their own sports stars, and while the days of those folks getting millions of dollars in guaranteed contracts is still only a passing fantasy, it seems we are certainly moving forward with the evolution of a community. It honestly makes me a happy guy, and I cannot wait to get drunk and watch some more Starcraft in Manhattan.