Again, I’m going to open with StarCraft. I wasn’t paying much attention to the rise of StarCraft 1 as an eSport, to be perfectly honest. I was absorbed at the time with trying to get my parents to let me play Massively Multiplayer online games… first Dark Age of Camelot, then Anarchy Online. By the time my love affair with the MMO ended (with World of WarCraft) I was really out of the whole gaming loop. As a high-school and college student, the bulk of my time was spent playing Magic the Gathering, Warhammer 40K (on the tabletop), D&D, and, of course, WoW.
I eventually dropped WoW for reasons that don’t need to be discussed here. This was, I believe, about 6 months or so before Frozen Throne? From there, I found a game called Supreme Commander that seemed pretty interesting. Way back in the day, I had loved WarCraft 1 and 2, I had played Total Annihilation and TA:Kingdoms… and this game, touting itself as the spiritual successor to Total Annihilation, seemed like a good way to spend some time.
Thus began my love affair with real time strategy gaming.
In my early life, I was not competitive in the slightest. I played “sports” through Elementary school only. In high school and college, as I have mentioned, I was a huge nerd, and also dabbled in writing, art, and a myriad of other things that all had the shared attributes of a) being sedentary and b) being entirely or mostly noncompetitive. Magic and Warhammer aside, of course, although these were in college after I started to become interested in competing.
RTS gaming opened the floodgates for me. I no longer have interest in playing a game unless it’s competitive. If I can’t prove myself against someone else, I’m not really getting what I want out of gaming. This feeling took about 4 years to evolve in me, but now it’s one of the core components of who I am. I am an RTS gamer (as well as being a father, a technophile, and what I’d like to consider a loving husband).
This is getting a little off topic, though. Let’s try to turn this back around to eSports.
I played a long litany of RTS games (none of them particularly well, unfortunately: I hadn’t yet discovered replays) including:
Then, StarCraft 2 came out.
It’s hard to describe the change that came over me when I discovered the StarCraft 2 community. I mean, I got the game because I was tired of playing games for 3 or 4 months until the community died, and then switching to another game. I wanted stability, I wanted permanence. I knew in an offhand way that StarCraft was a much-played game even 12 years after release, and reasoned that SC2 would have a big community because of this. I knew that Blizzard’s games usually did very well, and felt that I had maybe found a game that I could play for a long time.
To make a long story short, I was shortly thereafter introduced to the StarCraft 2 community. While I’m only a peripheral member, I have tried my hand at streaming, and always make it a point to watch what portions of major tournaments I can. 99% of my YouTube watching is now StarCraft (lately, Dawn of War 2 matches) and I have discovered the beauty of watching pro replays (thanks GameReplays.Org in particular for this).
I now have pretty high expectations for my games. I don’t think I can really, fully enjoy a game that is not a) competitive, b) has a large and dedicated community, and c) is an eSport.
Now I get to my point.
I am a 1 woman man, but I am apparently not a 1 game man. In the past 5 months, my interest in StarCraft 2 has waned somewhat. I took a detour into Brink on the XBOX 360, and more recently into League of Legends, Age of Empires Online (what a train wreck!) and, finally, Dawn of War 2.
I know I still owe you all an explanation for what Dawn of War 2 is, and why I like it so much, but this isn’t the time or the place. I’m woefully watching my word count rise above the 700 point, and I despair of anyone reading this nostalgic and personal ramble. So, I’ll deal with that later.
In short, DoW2 seems to have all the makings of an eSport (especially with the introduction of Retribution, which has a relatively low entry fee of $30 for the complete competitive game).
It has balanced and interesting gameplay, 6 widely varied factions, clear indicators of skilled play. It has matches lasting on average between 15 and 30 minutes, which isn’t terribly long (certainly shorter than League of Legends matches). I’m really not sure why it hasn’t taken off as an eSport. I actually have little idea what would cause any game to make the jump from normal competitive activity (like Supreme Commander) to eSport (like LoL or StarCraft) but I am certainly upset that Dawn of War 2 doesn’t have more public interest.