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Is America Ready For Competitive Gaming On TV?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the fraglympics dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 84

Thanks to GameSpy for its editorial discussing whether America is ready for more TV coverage of competitive gaming, following on from last week's QuakeCon, of which it's claimed: "Television coverage of the event was almost non-existent... although many media outlets did a story on QuakeCon, and taped a few interviews with competitors at the event, none covered the finals in a play-by-play fashion." One editor suggests gaming just isn't appealing enough: ("Deathmatch as we know it just isn't it yet. Visually it isn't too sexy if you're not, yourself, a hardcore player"), whereas a contrasting view is presented by another editor ("The competitive FPS scene in America is also ripe for television. All we'd need to do to get that up and running in the US is copy what the Starleague has done [using StarCraft] in Korea.")

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Reminds me... (4, Interesting)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000008)

One night on ESPN we saw a Magic: The Gathering. With stats, whiteboard and two commentators

Re:Reminds me... (5, Funny)

hambonewilkins (739531) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000482)

My roommate and I were up really early one morning and saw the same. We sat in silence for one minute before my roommate said, "I don't know who's a bigger loser, the guys playing or us for watching."

We turned it off.

Re:Reminds me... (1)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000973)

LOL. A friend of mine watched it. It was followed by a marbles championship. 40-year-olds with cat's eyes and the like. Fortunately, they were beat out by a kid (IIRC, he was about 10 or so). But yes, it is scary.

Re:Reminds me... (1)

svallarian (43156) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006863)

and that was god-awful coverage two.

Like 28 minutes of interviews and 2 minutes of actual gameplay.

No strategy discussion at all.

Fink was the man though!

I'd consider watching this... (2, Interesting)

erpbridge (64037) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000054)

...if only they had more than one screen onscreen at the same time, but limited to 4 screens at most. Yes, that would be confusing, but it adds to the watcher's experience to yell "Watch out behind you!" when you KNOW its not going to be any good.

Of course, sound would become bad... really bad. So, 1 screen it is... but whose? The winners, or one of the losers?

Boring (5, Insightful)

Reapy (688651) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000123)

The only time I ever saw a deathmatch on tv was when flipping around a while ago on g4 maybe. It was boring as hell. It was either tribes or unreal ctf game. I never got into either of those games too much, so I didn't know the map or the weapons. Which means I didn't know what the hell was going on. They would cut to a 3rd person view of some guy fraggin another, then running on. Then would cut to someone running with the flag. The only thing I saw was a random string of fragging clips that made no sense.

This would be really boring on tv to people who don't even know what these games look like, or what the point of th em are.

There are some ways to help that though. The first thing is to slow the game down to maybe half life speed running speed. Quake and unreal are maybe a bit too fast. It's hard to get an eye for where someone is when they cover ground so quickly, and hard to soak up changes when the field moves around so much.

There needs to be an overhead map showing all the teams on at all time. The map has to color code the teams, show who is carrying the flag, and highlight who we are watching. This would be hard to accomplish on maps with multiple floors.

Another thing they could do, is break down the game for us. Let's say that one guy is running back with the flag, some defenders hot on his heels. Ahead of him in a room, defenders have set up an ambush. Just as he gets in the room, the ambush is sprung, and they start firing on the flag carrier.

But out of the corner, some defenders pop out and frag the ambushers, drop down, and stop the other defenders.

On tv coverage, I'd like to see them pause before the flag guy gets into the room, set up the scene by paning around and showing me the situation, the flag guy is running into an ambush. Show the guy run in, tell me it's lights out for the flag guy, showing me an angle where I am behind the ambushers and can see the flag carrier. Then, as the attacker's friends run in, pan up to show them emerge and start shooting and scoring the frags. Let the announcer show me this blow by blow, explaining it the whole way.

This way, I know where they were on the map, watched them set up the play, and can see how well executed it was.

Basically they just need to break it down and explain it, and pause the action to show us split screens from a 3rd person view, and show someone's uncanny aiming ability from first person view, and also show me health and armor values as the fight progresses.

Either way, the game still isn't going to be fun to watch by someone who has never played the game being shown, as you'll only be watching graphics and animation, and won't appreciate the skill of the players.

In athletics, everyone can relate to someone running fast or jumpping high, you can't relate to a great ability to rail someone after seeing them on the screen across the map through a little tiny window for half a second.

Re:Boring (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 10 years ago | (#10004851)

Yes, you're right. The thing with computer games it's that, realistically, only the ones playing or hardcore fans will enjoy and/or understand what's going on. Regular people won't know, and probably wouldn't care to know either. You can enjoy sports you're not familiar with if you catch them on the fly on TV, but it's not that simple with computer games.
Not only that, but how can you cover a multiplayer LAN game on TV in real time? In, say, soccer, you follow the ball. How can you cover the (normally blazing fast) action of 8-12 players at the time? The only way is interactively, seeing what you want to see for yourself. No dice on TV.

I trolled a bit on a previous thread about Counter-Strike (sorry if it offended anyone, really); but it makes my eyes burn every time i read about "professional gaming". For a number of reason (included the ones above), i don't beleive we'll see computer gaming becoming an "accepted" sport anytime soon. It's just games, enjoy'em for what they are.

No (2, Insightful)

illuminata (668963) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000205)

America's not ready and probably never will be ready.

One problem is the low barrier of entry. You plop down cash for the game, you take it home and play it. In time, you'll probably be about as good as almost everybody else that you play. That's not the case with games like chess, where there's a very good chance that you'll never be at the top.

You don't have to be an athlete to play a video game, which is why so many people play! People watch athletics because not many people can become great athletes.

Poker seems to be an exception to the rule as of late. Who knows how long that will last but there are things that separate that from video games. One, big money is involved. Two, the big money creates drama. Three, and most important, they end up getting people who are considered cool, like on Celebrity Poker. Have you ever heard of a video gamer be called cool outside of the community?

No matter how much money is in the pot for this stuff, a gamer has a long way to go from becoming cool. And remember, the televised poker craze just started this year. Athletics have been a television mainstay.

But, in America, people like to be active participants in something when they can be. Most can't play in sports professionally, but they can play video games and end up becoming good at them. So, there's no way in hell this will have widespread appeal. Perhaps it could be expanded on at G4TechTV, but even then I don't see it successful.

Gotta be honest here, it's just too damn geeky.

Re:No (3, Insightful)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#10003027)

But, in America, people like to be active participants in something when they can be. Most can't play in sports professionally, but they can play video games and end up becoming good at them. So, there's no way in hell this will have widespread appeal.

The first problem here, obviously, is that people just don't realize how much of a gap there is between the top players in almost any given video game and the people that just play alone, or a random public game maybe a couple times a week. Sure, most people can become decent players of a game themselves without being particularly gifted in any way, but anyone that's played against someone that plays in upper-level competition long enough knows that there is a clear difference in skill.

The second problem is that at any given time the game being played in high level competition is only familiar to a small percentage of the TV audience. Most Americans have played football, baseball, etc (even soccer) at some point in their lives, even if it wasn't with the professional rules. There is no barrier of entry in these sports, until you want to play at a higher level. Everyone knows someone when they're growing up with a bat and a ball. With PC games you have to have a PC that can handle the game, a good internet connection, maybe some knowledge of how to configure the game to work best for you (and your computer), and the game itself, all before you can even learn how the game plays. Particular skills transfer from game to game, but people are easily confused by new maps and differing weapons and skills in different games. It takes some time to get familiar with the new environment before you can take full advantage of any benefits gained by having played earlier games, and even then you have to change habits for the new game.

These things also apply to watching the game. The only thing more confusing than trying to figure out a map in the middle of a deathmatch is trying to figure it out when you are not in control (when you're watching it on TV, for instance). Then add familiarity (or the lack thereof) with the game itself, as well as possibly the game-type (DM, CTF, TF, CS, AQ2, etc), and you've got a lot of things people need to know before they can enjoy watching a game, let alone playing in it.

Perhaps it could be expanded on at G4TechTV, but even then I don't see it successful.

I have watched a few games on G4TechTV, but overall I've found it to be a poor experience even when I'm familiar with the game. This is in direct contrast with the time I spent spectating matches online, although in those cases I had direct control over my viewing angle and occasionally jumped between matches when things slowed down.

What I feel they need to do to make the viewing experience better on TV is take some time before the match not only to explain the game, game-type, and map, but to show, as much as possible, what they're talking about in the game itself. Use an overhead view of the map to give viewers a general idea of what the map looks like, highlight important areas, as well as points of possible strategic interest, show people the different weapons in the game, maybe discuss the strengths and weaknesses of those weapons, classes if the game has them, and the objective of the game type. Some of this can be drawn out into the match, take a break to detail what's going on and show some more background information (like they do in the previously mentioned televised poker, discussing things like what a straight and royal flush are, how the game type works, and so on).

You might show the players themselves when they have a particularly strong reaction, and to introduce them intially, but you don't need to show the player when his character is sitting in a corner defending an area, basically not doing anything but watching the screen. Something else to consider would be to allow some minor customization of skins in order to better associate the individual players with their characters on-screen. Real sports have names and numbers on the jerseys, but they also have the advantage in that each player is actually different from the player next to them, so it's easy to pick out the 180lb. player on a football field, or the 6' player on a basketball court, never mind #22 or J. Smith. You can't pick people out as easily in video games, and part of the reason is that people are afraid of others gaining an advantage through skin mods, so they're not allowed in competetive play (for the most part). If the games supported minor customization, even if it was simply based on some text or a small icon, which would change a particular portion of a character's skin (beyond the simple colour adjustments that some games allow now), it would help a great deal in allowing viewers to associate particular players with their characters in-game.

The spectator mods available for Q3 and Half-Life really do help quite a bit with the experience for people watching a game, but, there's still some more needed to make things work on TV, where the viewer loses control completely. Sports can help show the way, but, in the end, there is work to be done on both sides (the TV people and the game developers) to get video games on TV to work right.

Re:No (2)

vaporakula (674048) | more than 10 years ago | (#10003552)

One problem is the low barrier of entry. You plop down cash for the game, you take it home and play it. In time, you'll probably be about as good as almost everybody else that you play.

This may be true of some of the more shallow games out there, but you're very, very wrong on this skills point with regards to the games that are played at competetive levels. I've played against some of the best FPS gamers in the UK (who are competetive at the highest level available) and believe me, the skill difference is amazing. It's not just reaction times, it's spacial awareness, situational awareness, and some fairly amazing abilities to manipulate the controls and game logic. These people are worth watching in the same way that a pro sports person is worth watching - if you understand the sport being played.

Counterstrike, the most widely played FPS out there, has some unbelievably good players at the top level. But it's not just the individuals that make the game; it's their teamplay. I've downloaded + watched recordings of the CPL finals, and have enjoyed the experience immensely - mainly because I know whats going on.

This is the key point. Games are not simple, easy things to just "put on tv." You can't expect an audience of people unfamiliar with the game to immediately get the action, to be able to follow what's going on and understand the subtleties. It's just not going to work - it's like putting someone unfamiliar with Cricket in front of a 5-day Test and execting them to enjoy it. Not going to happen.

However: if you take the time to explain the rules, show the field, why the fielding choices have been made, explain some of the background between the players and intelligently show the action in between all of this, you can make it possible for the person to enjoy it! The very same principle applies to games on TV. All of the efforts I've seen thus far have been utter cop-outs, with poor editing of the action, no real explanation of what's going on, and a smarmy presenters. That is obviously never going to work.

Good TV can be made from games! It'll take an editor who actually knows games to do it though.

Poker (1)

svallarian (43156) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006875)

It's funny....using one of the sponsors of the ESPN poker ( is still illegal in all 50 states.

How's that for irony.

Steven V>

What about the announcer? (1)

warnerve (149076) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000283)

I can't imagine a host being picked out for gaming television that isn't annoying. Hell, there are even several announcers in NFL and the NBA that I find increasingly annoying. Imagine what a gaming show would get? I think I'm having flashbacks of Battle Bots.

Yes, On One Condition (4, Funny)

shadowcabbit (466253) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000426)

As long as G4 stays far the fuck away, then yes. Yes it is.

Re:Yes, On One Condition (1)

yRabbit (625397) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000988)

Ha! G4 already has their "Arena" show, with competitive gaming.. uh.. I don't watch sports, and I think I'd rather watch them than competitive gaming.

At least the little bits of "competitive gaming" TechTV had on some of their shows, it was just talking to one of the people, showing the game for a moment. It wasn't an entire tv show.

Re:Yes, On One Condition (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002195)

As long as G4 stays far the fuck away, then yes. Yes it is.

Amen to that, G4 took over TechTV and the tv shows are so dumb downed, it smells like FOX news.

Im waiting to see who is voted off the Island....

Are we ready? (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000431)

Heck, you could put it on TV and find out. They even have some sort of ratings system, I hear, that can tell you how many people were interested enough in your show to watch it.

My hunch is, however, that most people couldn't care less about this, which is why it hasn't been done. It certainly would be a cheap and easy show to produce.

Then again, have you ever watched someone else play a first person shooter? Two minutes of that is enough to make you vomit from dizzyness.

It CAN be done (2, Insightful)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000454)

There are several steps pointed out in the Gamespy article that need to happen before competitive gaming becomes a reality. One of the major ones is the need for a game that looks great, is TV friendly, doesn't require hacked up config files to allow you to be good, and is fun to watch. Ladies and gentlemen: that game is Halo.

Halo is already tremendously popular on college campuses, and you'll get many guys who don't normally enjoy video games excited about 8 on 8 capture the flag games. It's almost as fun to watch as it is to play. It definately requires a good amount of skill. The capture the flag games require immense teamwork and cooperation if you're going to suceed, while the 1 on 1 deathmatches can be very exciting. Everything I've heard about Halo 2 sounds like an improvement over the original, and most of these improvements would lend themselves great to the game being a spectator sport. Dual weilding looks really cool and adds layers of tactics. The covanent energy sword looks awesome and surely could be entertaining to watch. The new vehical destruction physics will make entertaining and exciting flag runs possible - Will his vehicle hold out just long enough for him to make it back to the base? The fact that the game runs on an Xbox means that it looks great and costs very little to play, while ensuring there aren't going to be many cheaters and making config files nonexistant.

There are already some video games that are fun to watch. the Grand Theft Auto series is one of them - the reason is because you can see all sorts of entertaining things and there is generally nonstop action. The same is going to be true of Halo 2. If bungie plays things right by adding a pure spectator mode and the ability to host tournaments, we could see the start of something really big.

Re:It CAN be done (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002283)

Ladies and gentlemen: that game is Halo.

I think CS would be better, it based in the real world, and everyone is terrorist crazy right now. And CS is the most played game.

A couple announcers go into observer mode, and do play by play. You could switch between announcers and players view while doing playbacks on nice kills. Get some nice replays, maybe do overlays like the NFL.

A perfect world would be, record everyones game, and then an editor/director could cut together the game the game, so a 20 minute match would be 20 minutes of the best parts. Overlays with the persons names would be needed. Maybe with statsme, kill ratio stats.

As long as its not a campfest. With only 4hp left, you tend to just sit and guard the objective...

Re:It CAN be done (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002327)

[Halo is] almost as fun to watch as it is to play.

Disagree very, very strongly.

[Halo] definately requires a good amount of skill.


There are already some video games that are fun to watch. the Grand Theft Auto series is one of them - the reason is because you can see all sorts of entertaining things and there is generally nonstop action.

Personally I cannot stand to watch someone play video games -- and GTA is one of the worst to watch.

The problem is the strategy (1)

EddieBurkett (614927) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000893)

What makes games interesting to watch on tv isn't just the usual *hard-hitting* action (in this case comparable to frags), but its the understanding of strategy and to see how competitors are able to mentally and physically counter their opponents. This is especially applicable to the novelty events mentioned already: Scrabble, Poker, Magic(?!?!). As mentioned, this requires the ability to record the game from any perspective (3rd person especially), and definitely requires the ability to use instant replays with a teleprompter. Nothing will make understanding strategy more accessible than someone circling a guy hiding behind a bunch of crates and then drawing a line to indicate the path he uses to ambush the incoming force. While that may seem like a simple enough attack concept to grasp, slowing it down and showing it to the viewer will make them understand better that these games do involve thought, and aren't just about who can press the button the fastest.

And anyone who tries this is advised to use that G4 show that I think is called Arena as a manual on how not to go about this...

God, that sounds boring. (2, Funny)

fatmonkeyboy (257833) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000984)

But on the other hand, people watch baseball.

The medium is the message (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10001359)

Spectator video gaming has a big problem. Any spectator, using precisely the same equipment, is fully equipped to compete. The sole differentiator is experience/skill level at the particular game.

A major appeal of physical sports spectatorship is reminiscence; it allows older or otherwise unfit guys to re-live their glory days (or fantasy days, as the case may be) of youth. People who never played sports, or never had the desire to, aren't usually spectators.

Would a stadium full of young, fit, able athletes would be more interested in watching a football/baseball game than playing it? I seriously doubt it.

The barriers of entry for competitive sports are age, gender and fitness. Furthermore, the skills required require relatively enormous amounts of practice time to hone.

The barriers of entry for competitive video games are primarily financial. That's pretty much it. Even a rank novice could score points. There's a skill level difference between pros and amateurs, but so is there in chess (and that isn't a popular spectator sport, either).

So... what's the motivation for any potential spectators to watch a video game competition, when they're able to play in the same environment with the same controls and game mechanics, themselves? Kids can't go out and play football in an actual pro football stadium with actual uniforms, but they can exactly duplicate the experience from a spectated game, sans the skill of the particular competitors.

Pro gamers view this as a political issue, as if acceptance of spectating as entertainment validates their status as athletes. As far as that goes, I support spectating qua entertainment. I just don't personally find it entertaining.

Re:The medium is the message (1)

vaporakula (674048) | more than 10 years ago | (#10003804)

Spectator video gaming has a big problem. Any spectator, using precisely the same equipment, is fully equipped to compete. The sole differentiator is experience/skill level at the particular game.

And this is different to playing soccer / baseball / football / whatever, how exactly?

Just because people get a little out of shape (or even disabled) doesn't mean they are incapable of playing sports. It does mean they won't be able to play at the highest level, granted - but that applies to pro-gamers as well. Being a pro gamer takes a hell of a lot of training and practice.

Buying a pimped-out Alienware rig or whatever isn't going to make you competetive with the pro gamers. Far from it. You are grossly underestimating the skill (and innate ability!) required to play games at a professional level. Sure you can play the same game as the pro gamers, but you'll develop an appreciation of the game in exactly the same way you developed an appreciation for a NFL Quarter-Back's skills when you tried to throw your first 50yrd hail mary.

Rank novices do not score points in the pro games. I've seen pro gamers play normally excellent, hardcore gamers and utterly devestate them. Luck is not nearly as much a factor as you seem to think - at least in the good games, the games that become professionally competetive.

Re:The medium is the message (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006254)

And this is different to playing soccer / baseball / football / whatever, how exactly?

That's what the rest of the message explained, actually. Perhaps if you digested posts holistically rather than reacting to individual premisses, you might have better luck achieving understanding here in the dangerous realm of intellectual exploration.

As for the rest of your strawman, you'll find it preemptively countered in the original post. Again, holistic rebuttals are best if you don't want to appear to have swallowed your foot.

Re:The medium is the message (1)

vaporakula (674048) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010491)

Try re-reading my post and while you're at it, try to poke your head out of your own arse long enough to see my point, AC.

And as for a "Strawman" - what? Please, quite clearly and directly explain why you think I was misrepresenting your standpoint. Your premise was that to be competetive in gaming the primary barrier was financial - I rebutted, saying that skill and training were just as important in professional gaming as in professional sports. The one and only point where I possibly caricatured your position was by saying you grossly underestimated the skills required to be a pro gamer; considering some of your previous wording, I still think that was a fair statement and will stand by it. Please correct me if you feel it's necessary.

Now, would you be so kind as to state where you preemptively countered my point that playing games requires actual skill, not just a nice credit line? Ah yes, that's right - you haven't. Now please, back to my post and attack my argument, rather than using pathetic ad hominem attack.

I believe you're the one with the foot/mouth interface issues. Considering you're being A,C, I'm not sure why I'm even bothering with a rebuttal; I suspect I've been trolled. Well done.

Nooooo!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10001660)

NO WAY! Have you seen Arena on G4? BOORRRING!
What kind of moron wants to watch someone play an interactive game, rather than taking that time to PLAY themselves?!

As much as we want them to be, games aren't sports. Not even close.

The game must have a "TV server" mode. (1)

Demon-Xanth (100910) | more than 10 years ago | (#10001951)

What I mean by a "TV Server" mode is a way of being able to select a certain player's perspective, or even third person, and a "view from the sky" perspective so you can see a couple of guys hunting down eachother. That way a spectator can get a view of the stratagy without having to be psychic. People watch football and can see the plays unfold, if all they had was a helmet cam it wouldn't be nearly as interesting.

As far as "boring" goes, compare videogames to golf, baseball, and curling.

TV? Not necessarily... (3, Interesting)

daeley (126313) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002397)

You're assuming that TV is the end-all be-all for this format. Why not a television-like production streamed online instead, where your audience is more likely to exist and be more easily advertargeted.

Re: Bring TV to gaming, not the other way around (2, Interesting)

HoshiToshi9000 (786883) | more than 10 years ago | (#10004487)

I absolutely agree with your comment about TV as not being the end-all be-all format. In fact I'll go further and say that TV as we know it today is going to be evolving in a big way in the near future. I believe gaming will be on the forefront of this evolution and IP based networks will be enabling it.

I will make a prediction that the online console gaming networks of Sony and Microsoft will eventually morph and they will look more like media networks with daily programming schedules and that a large portion of the revenues will be derived from advertising. First they will start out with ESPN like interactive coverage of things like Halo3 tournaments, but then the programming will become more varied covering everything from machinama to interactive game-show hybrids (think Doom4 meets Jeopardy or Everquest3 meets Survivor). Remember when MTV was just music videos?

What's interesting is that all the main pieces are there to pull this off. Its just that no one has tried to tie everything together. Good quality video is expensive to broadcast over IP networks currently. The people trying to pull off interactive TV in the mid to late 90's found that out. BUT a spectator stream from online games is very light weight with good image quality that improves with each generation of graphics hardware. So the media/gaming networks will initially be broadcasting spectator streams as opposed to video. Long term though as the pipes get fatter in the last mile, there will be a mix of video and rendered grapics.

roll on (1)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002428)

roll on Counter Strike source tournaments on ESPN

Have you ever thought about..... (3, Insightful)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002802)

There are other televised competitions that cater to niche crowds that, unless you are a hardcore fan (of *watching*, not just participating) would be boring as hell. Two that spring to mind immediately: Golf and Bowling. How either of these two sports survived (or in Golf's case, thrived) on television is beyond me. Neither have *any* action to speak of, both move at a snail's pace, neither involve any significant strategy, and neither are really "in your face" competitive. I'm not saying that makes them bad sports, but it does make for bad television. But somehow, there are enough fans to keep televising them viable. I think that with the past two generations having grown up on video games, ESPN can afford to risk an hour a week to televising video game tournaments. The fan base is definitely there.

SF2 competition (1)

Taulin (569009) | more than 10 years ago | (#10003210)

My wife, who was living in Japan at the time, sent me a recording of a Street Fighter 2 competition, and I found it pretty fun to watch. They had a huge warehouse with about 200 super famicons setup, and showed highlights of fights up until the final eight, where they then started showing every match.

I am not sure if I found it fun to watch because I like Street Fighter, or if I just enjoyed how serious those players got.

If anything, from watching competitions you can see moves that you never knew before.

All about getting inside (1)

indros13 (531405) | more than 10 years ago | (#10004295)

I think it would be interesting to watch if you could have coverage from "inside the game." Real-life sports are fun because the camera allows you to see the players in their appropriate context (in left field, on the sideline, etc). I wouldn't want to watch FPS gaming from a first-person perspective of a character or over the shoulder of a player, but it might be cool to have a 3/4 view of a CTF map where I could see the characters (with names floating overhead) moving around.

So, basically I think they need a breakthrough in how you can observe games (which probably includes designing levels for easier viewing like Lava Giant in UT).

already done in the UK (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 10 years ago | (#10004413)

Game network (a European channelw hich shows on satalite in the UK) covered one of the large TFC leagues.

I watched a couple of games on it but I found it boring, not because of how it was done. I just played TFC for several years and watching these guys just conc, bunny hop and repeat (tricks which makea really fast paced game but I totally hate) seemed no fun to me. I'd rather have a slower more tactical game.

It used to air every day 2-3 times a day and from what I know didn't do too baddly.

Maybe When the Gamers Participating Don't Suck (2, Interesting)

Primis (71749) | more than 10 years ago | (#10004966)

Judging by the lousy ARENA show on G4, no it doesn't have a place. Part of that of course being that the people participating in these shows SUCK at the games.

It's really sad to be flipping through TV with some buddies, come across two teams playing a PS2 FPS none of us have ever played before, and the firsty comment out of someone's mouth within 30 seconds is "We've never played this game before and we'd mop the floor with both teams".

Having watched several different "competitive" gaming events on TV, streaming video, and in real life, I think I'm safe in saying that in many cases the best gamers aren't even participating. It's just that sad...

-- Primis.

Make it more than the game. (2, Insightful)

lpangelrob2 (721920) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006794)

Maybe if you make it into more than just a game. I'd probably only watch it if it were Battlefield: 1942, and only if there was professionals designing the missions, and only if there were advanced players, and only if, if the setup were to be modeled on an actual event in history, if historical parallels were available and on-hand -- and the players didn't know (or at least weren't told) about them.

Now that I think about it, that's a hell of a lot of restrictions. But third-party omniscient, professional commentary on "what they did, what they should've done, and what really happened" would very much interest me, especially if we're talking about times and places of major battles in the past.

Deathmatch or CTF? (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 10 years ago | (#10007128)

As for as "video game sports" go, I think it would be far more interesting to watch a team based scenario like capture the flag. Multiple perspectives, good use of the spectator cam (keep one camera on each flag at all times), good commentary, good production, etc... For a more movie like clip, deathmatch would work, as long as it was first person from the best player's perspective owning everyone ... set to a good musical background... and no longer than 5 minutes.

Cameras :) (1)

NoMercy (105420) | more than 10 years ago | (#10008412)

I'm sure watching deathmatches in Doom3 or any FPS would be far more interesting if there were properly setup cameras, most of the demos are watched from the eyes of one of the players.

A nice set of panning views giving a good tactical overview like a football game would probably be far more entertaining :)

It sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10008800)

who the fuck wants to see some 15 year old kid playing a game that needs no skill? This is not like running the 100 meters in Athens, this is a fucking video-game. I can play Counter-Strike all day, so why the fuck would I need to watch someone play?

Re:It sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10010513)

Why the fuck would i want to watch someone run in a straight line for just under 10s? Thats just dumb...

To the naysayers, I ask Why do people watch chess? (1)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 10 years ago | (#10009255)

There are a lot of people saying that this won't work because it's boring to watch other people play games because it's more fun to play than to watch, etc.

To them, I ask, Why do people watch other people play chess?

Maybe this is a culturally relitivistic thing, but there's an appreciation for watching others play computer games in Korea that goes beyond mere passing interest. Finals for Starcraft tournaments can pack small stadiums. Granted, it's Darwinistic -- since I've come here, I've seen computer game spectator shows for Starcraft, Warcraft 3, Counter-Strike, Unreal Tournament, C&C Generals, WWE, several racing titles, Golf, etc. -- as the only one that really has proven staying power at this point is Starcraft, with Warcraft3 so far having the second-longest tenure.

But I don't think you can sum the viability of the idea as to whether or not it's more fun to play than to watch, because some of the Starcraft players are just so good at what they do, and the game has so permeated the youth's mindset over here, that one can appreciate a lot of the strategy at work just by watching the games.

In short, it's like other people watching chess. How silly would it be to see that it's stupid to watch Kasparov play chess because you can always hang out with your buddies and play chess yourself? Another poster had legitimate views that FPS play would do better if it were edited after the fact -- in short, the presentation of the game needs to be spiced up -- but it is possible to do and do it entertainingly.

Plus, and this is something I'm surprised the game companies don't catch on to, television shows like these are excellent tech demos to a potential buying audience. It's almost better than an ad.

Some points to consider... (1)

lcllam (714572) | more than 10 years ago | (#10020190)

I agree with the earlier post that watching a (any) FPS over a player's shoulder is annoying, dull and suffers from a lack of 'connected-ness' with the overall action, even for a gamer. The existing efforts are crap. When we watch a sport like NFL, hockey, etc... we are all engaging in a joint experience with the teams, and all the other viewers. The purpose is clear, and shared. This creates a sense of belonging and connectedness, even during water cooler banter. FPS and RTS on TV is, IMO, akin to putting paintball on TV (Korea notwithstanding). It can't be done, and western broadcasters have not figured out how to package it in a compelling manner to their audience.

Videogames ARE convergence (broadcast, Internet, Personal Computing), and maybe I'm speculating here, but I believe they will bring this convergence to the living room.

IMO The game franchise needs to be built with broadcast in mind, and not just for the recreational (i.e. non-pro) gamer with broadcast as an afterthought. That includes all the necessary enhancements. Consider the following:

- game based on an experience that the broadcasters have experience packaging, e.g. motor racing (think Gran Turismo BROADCAST), Madden TV, etc.

- bring the experience home with a travelling, live series (sort of like Formula1's multi-track format), hosted in real cities. The superstars are real professionals, who go to these locations to bring the action home. Think WWE.

- fixed/ mobile camera mounts, fed back into an existing broadcast pipeline (director's table, overlays, commentary) with experienced people behing the cams/ direction. This is for the broadcast audience and the broadcast viewers - just a TV experience.

- motion control rigs with the obligatory 3D stereo head mounted rigs for the broadcast players - the broadcast experience must be special. Don't broadcast nobodys. Create your own set of superstars.

- I think it may be cool to let the Director say 'cue rain', as in that Jim Carrey movie.

- multi-tier rendering engine, one very high quality one based on high-end machines for broadcast and the broadcast-tier players (they're hand-picked superstars, afterall), the other lower-spec one for home rendering via a PS(x)/ whatever to support the interactive channels. Both should use the same telemetry data, but render with separate model sets.

- internet/ multicast extensions for *100%* interactive TV. Stream out the data feed from the broadcast channel. If you're not happy with the camera angle, *change it*, or fly your own camera rig by powering up your PS(x)/whatever over the internet, in real-time with the actual event being carried out live. Talk about in-race footage.

- supporting online properties - download your superstar's practice sessions, so you can practice/ hone your skillz at home while waiting for the sponsorship call. Build your creds racing against each other via XBOX Live or PS-Net in the online bunny leagues.

- sponsorship and advertising programs for supporting cash. This should become a viable professional sport (see Korea).

- a multi-platform home version of the software for your PS(x)/ XBOX/ PC/ NGC, whatever. You can have annual updates (not patches), and force original copies to participate in the bunny leagues.

Think of it: because videogames are easy to get into, you'll always have a fresh set of new talent. Yes, they probably need some grooming and de-pizza-sauce-ing. But these will become the Tiger Woods and Michael Schumachers of the medium. No superstars = no audience.

Oh, you'll also need a big-a$$ bit of cash during early stages.

I SO want to see this implemented, or better yet, to participate in its implementation. I think it's not a question of if, but rather a question of WHEN.... and its rather unique to videogames. MS/ Sony/ Nintendo, are you listening?

GNAA owns (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9999627)

slashdot sucks.

The real question is: (-1)

T.Hobbes (101603) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999675)

Is Competetive Gaming ready for America?

PS - Down with Bush!
PPS - 10,000,000!

The Korean analogy... (5, Insightful)

u-238 (515248) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999682)

is so far off and incompatible. The contrasts between pop and traditional culture in Korea and America are so drastic.. it really doesn't behoove any game-TV advocates to make that analogy, as it is very doubtful that an American TV producers would be convinced by this argument.

Although I belive that since it's gotten far enough this ready (QuakeCon, CPL championships, etc.) game coverage TV certainly isn't a far fetched idea - nor far away from becoming a reality. In the next decade, at least, I assure everyone that you'll be hearing about and following champion game players and teams in the same manner we do today with football, baseball etc.

Re:The Korean analogy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10000029)

100000th? worth a go!

Re:The Korean analogy... (3, Insightful)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002241)

In the next decade, at least, I assure everyone that you'll be hearing about and following champion game players and teams in the same manner we do today with football, baseball etc.

I assure you that is a very far-fetched notion. Do you have any idea how many people follow football, baseball, "etc"? Personally (see my user name) I play video games more than the average bloke, but even I can't stand watching people play video games, if for no other reason than -- heck, I could be playing video games! But I watch a lot of hockey, football, baseball, and college basketball, if for no other reason than -- damn, they are pretty good!

Even the best Quake player is absolutely zero fun to watch. But hey, in today's era of a thousand digital channels, many dedicated to even smaller niche clientelle, why not some video game coverage? Obviously there is some small market for it.

But putting it on the level of football, baseball? The next time you see 50,000 people paying an average of $50 to sit in the cold and watch someone play video games, let me know! 10 years? Maybe -- maybe -- 100 years. It would take such a monumental shift in American culture that I just can't see it -ever- happening. We enjoy -real- violence and -real- sport, it is nearly instinctive.

Reminds me of a quote which I'll have to paraphrase since I can't remember it fully: "Hey, there's this new video game, with unbelievable resolution, perfect frames per second, no lag! It's called real life."

Video games are something fun to do when it's too dark/cold/rainy to go outside.

Re:The Korean analogy... (1)

u-238 (515248) | more than 10 years ago | (#10003105)

But dark, cold and rainy days are my favorite.

/misanthopic, unique and sophisticated goth mode off

Re:The Korean analogy... (1)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 10 years ago | (#10003385)

Actually, I enjoy WATCHING real violence- not being part of it.

So- when the day comes that what is computer generated, and what is real cannot be determined on my screen- I won't really give a crap whether it is a game, or if it is real.

But the part that will be missing, is when one person (or group of people) triumph over others. I guess maybe the back-story could be about the gamers themselves.

"Stevie has wonderful hand-eye coordination, and the ability to sit for hours without blinking. If it weren't for his over-active bladder, he would easily be ranked in the top 10 this year."

But will anyone really care to watch 16 year olds with greasy hair, and black T-shirts? Other than their peers, other people won't really be able to connect with them in any way.

Games need to come out of the closet, and hit mainstream- then maybe we could have competitors that people could back.

I've been playing ESPN NFL 2K5 and there are times that the game is nearly indistinguishable from a real game. But still- nobody wants to sit and watch me play...because they don't really give a shit about whether I win, or lose. And they know it only took 20 hours to get where I am now...and maybe if they spent the same 20 hours, they could be just as good- or probably better.

But then again...I don't watch real football either...

Re:The Korean analogy... (1)

jpop32 (596022) | more than 10 years ago | (#10010697)

We enjoy -real- violence and -real- sport, it is nearly instinctive.

Ummm... Movies? Last time I checked, they were mostly not real life, and mostly enjoyed by large audiences.

The draw of sports is not whether they are real or not, it's the competition, the winners and losers, the skill of beating the other guy. I'm sure you've noticed that 'wrestling' shows you have over there in the US. Surely you don't think that is real.

The basic point holding games from becoming a spectator sport is the difficulty of presenting them in a way that would be exciting and understandable to non-gamers. Which, I must admit still has some way to go.

Re:The Korean analogy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10029343)

Video games are something fun to do when it's too dark/cold/rainy to go outside. ...or when the evil burning light in the sky is upon us.

Re:The Korean analogy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9999950)

Olympics 7:00am to 12:00 am solid on the BBC, roll on CS matches.

3rd person (5, Insightful)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999692)

I haven't seen any of the QuakeCon setup, but any deathmatch style clips I've seen broadcast on G4 have always been from the first person point of view. That's so boring. You need several camera's that a director can control to watch the action from above or a 3rd person point of view. That way the audience could see where the snipers are camping, and when two people are going to run into each other as they come around a corner. Just like any other sport, where there's a hundred cameras running to get the best shot.

Re:3rd person (4, Insightful)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000079)

That was actually my comment exactly. Let me expand upon your initial idea, if you don't mind.

First off, don't show it live! At least not the first year or so, because you're gonna need practice to get good coverage. Think of what's more cinematic to see, a live NFL game or one of the "NFL Films". This sort of brings us to our next technical limitation.

This is easy to cover in existing PC games (especially modded ones -- who knows, iD games might already have this), it's a bit more difficult for console games. Specifically, you would need to create a utility that "tapes" the game, in a replayable, demo format. From that point on, a spectator should be able to access that feed and basically see it from any angle, including pause, rewind, fast-forward, and preferably, some sort of slo-mo to get that hip* Matrix style everyone is talking about.

Now, once this is done, you need to get a really good editor to put all this together, as well as a director. They don't need to come from the "traditional" film world -- I think Randall Glass [] would be excellent, for example, or . So now, say, a match on Blood Gulch (to stay with the same game), isn't just a first player perspective, but a third-person view. You have overhead shots of a gunfight, behind-the-vehicle shots of a Warthog, etc. This makes it much more exciting. Replay multiple angles of a scene, etc.

Here's another important part -- narration! You don't want to dumb it down too much but you don't want to use too many "insider" words. "That noob spawn-camped on the RFK. That's LOL! 45 TTT! Hahaha!"

The end result should be very close to watching a narrated action movie. Oh, and I don't want to see the players during the game! I don't care! They're mostly not photogenic at all.

The reality is that you have shaky video playing over someone's shoulder, and then the narrator saying "As you can see, Edgar300 is going wild!" with a shot of explosions in UT that don't tell me what he's getting "wild" about.

There just is not any interest in me seeing that sort of crap, and I think I'm probably a good target audience, considering I'm into games but not a "hardcore gamer".

* If this was 1998.

Re:3rd person (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000332)

Very good. I agree that recorded and edited is much better than realtime. There's just too much going on if you have more than 4 people, and there's no pause in the action like regular sports. So, when do you want to get together do we can pitch our idea to ESPN. We'll make millions!!!!! LOL

Re:3rd person (1)

Aerion (705544) | more than 10 years ago | (#10003585)

Oh, and I don't want to see the players during the game! I don't care! They're mostly not photogenic at all.

If you don't show and don't involve the players, then you just have a CG action film. There needs to be a human side to any show to make it more balanced. Poker coverage on ESPN is a good example of this: the show isn't 100% dedicated to watching poker hands. That would get boring fast. Instead, interviews with players are mixed in, as well as other tidbits that emphasize and bring to attention the human side of the event and help the average person understand the drama of a poker tournament.

If you don't introduce the players, viewers don't know who to root for. There's no reason for them to really get into the game. There is no "home team" as there is in televised sports. There is a noticeable trend in all popular game shows (as in quiz shows, not as in shows that feature video games): just about every game show that has had widespread success in the United States has included a couple minutes in the show where the contestants are introduced to the audience. Without that little bit of intimacy, the show isn't nearly as interesting.

Re:3rd person (1)

CDLewis (775622) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006181)

If you don't show and don't involve the players, then you just have a CG action film.

Which would actually likely appeal highly to the target audience. I have to agree with the parent poster - while I'd be greatly interested in watching the game, I have no interest in watching people playing the game. Current shows like the god-awful Arena simply show the geeks playing the game, and give the first-person view. As a gamer, I want to play games, not watch other people play games. If the show is centered around the game itself though (and able to utilize a free-roaming third-person camera, spectator-style, as described in the parent post), rather than the dorks behind the monitors, then it's something I'd be interested in.

It's akin to watching Robot Wars, or porn. I just want to see "Expectorator" rip other robots apart (Robot Wars), or watch her go down on another chick (porn.) I don't care about the geek and his kids who built "Expectorator" from an old washing machine (Robot Wars), nor do I want to listen to her talk in between money shots (porn.)

Re:3rd person (1)

PhoenixOne (674466) | more than 10 years ago | (#10009283)

Robot Wars didn't do too well (so maybe it isn't a good example), but they tried to get around the fact that the robot owners were, for the most part, not interesting to "Joe Average" by trying to give the robots personallity.

You could do this with an Unreal FPS by adding a totally customizible character editors like they have in many MMPOG (like City of Heros and StarWars).

Re:3rd person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10013131)

After watching the insanely powerful machines on Battlebots break each other into tiny pieces with ease, Robot Wars is just pathetic. I hope the reason they're so weak is because of rules limiting the power of the motors they can use, because otherwise I feel sorry for those poor people. I just wish Battlebots was still on TV. I don't know if they even still hold the tournaments.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Battlebots, but I don't believe fights in which every robot is different can be compared to a video game, where even if your character looks different, you still have the exact same arsenal and moves as everyone else.

Re:3rd person (1)

subsolar2 (147428) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006659)

This is easy to cover in existing PC games (especially modded ones -- who knows, iD games might already have this), it's a bit more difficult for console games. Specifically, you would need to create a utility that "tapes" the game, in a replayable, demo format. From that point on, a spectator should be able to access that feed and basically see it from any angle, including pause, rewind, fast-forward, and preferably, some sort of slo-mo to get that hip* Matrix style everyone is talking about.

Well on UT2003/2004 you can do server side demo recording that captures all the action and then replay it from any point of view you desire.

Though the last couple patches to 2004 partially broke demo recording.

Re:3rd person (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 10 years ago | (#10007650)

So what you're saying is that the question is really, in Soviet Russia, is Competivie Gaming on TV ready for America? Except not in Soviet Russia, in America, ahh, screw it.

First off, don't show it live! At least not the first year or so

Like you said, this sounds great for a trial run at how to do the coverage right. However in order for it to make the transition to live tv you'd also need to add some sort of ghost functinality to any game being used so you could have realtime "camera" operators inside the game. Preferably with a couple sets of hotkeys, one set to jump to each player in the game, and another set to act as bookmarks for previous locations. That way with a little bit of training two or three people could cover a lot of different positions.

This certainly wouldn't be the first time functionality was added to a game for TV purposes. I don't remember how they handle it in StarCraft, but Red Alert 2 had a ghost mode added just for Korean TV broadcasts.

Re:3rd person (1)

KeeperS (728100) | more than 10 years ago | (#10056045)

I don't remember how they handle it in StarCraft, but Red Alert 2 had a ghost mode added just for Korean TV broadcasts.

One of Starcraft's patches added replay functionality. At the end of a game, you save the replay so you can watch it later. You can fast forward, pause, etc, when watching a replay, and you can choose to have the entire map revealed or look at things from a certain player's view.

Of course, I don't know what they do for live matches. Do they even have live SC broadcasts?

Re:3rd person (1)

fain0v (257098) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005194)

The chase camera existed back in quake 1. It would switch from area to area so you could view all the major fights, and track the movement of players.

Re:3rd person (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005380)

The 3rd person view would be essential, IMHO.

A game that lends itself well to this is the Best Game No One Played, Microsoft Allegiance [] .

It's a RTS + FPS/Flightsim requiring team effort to win. Combining a StarCraft-esque viewpoint and econ management for the commanders and a Wing Commander space combat feel for pilots, Allegiance appeals to a wide potential audience.

When you switch from 1st person to 3rd person mode in Allegiance, the camera seemlessly pulls out of your ship and swoops upward into the space above the sector horizontal plane, until the entire sector is in view. Really helps set your perspective on where you are in relation to everything else going on.

However, let's keep one thing in mind. Even so-called reality TV is heavily edited. Regardless of the viewpoint, post-production editing and voiceover would make or break the show in the U.S.A.; think Iron Chef!

If you want to see what Allegiance looks like after editing up, take a look at the first video project some fans created [] .

Re:3rd person (1)

Zangief (461457) | more than 10 years ago | (#10008620)

They are trying to broadcast the wrong game. They should try and cover one of those crazy street fighter tournaments. There are a lot of advantages:

-Game is better suited to espectators.
-Real skill can be noticed.
-Every game seems different.
-You can actually say "woah, that combo was cool", grab your console and try it. All the skill in a FPS leads to teamwork (hard to see for a spectator anyway) or aim. Aiming is boring as hell. Yeah you can kill a pixel miles away. It doesn't look cool if you aren't doing it.

Smash Bros Melee is also a good option. Tekken, Virtua Fighter too.

Re:3rd person (2, Funny)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999744)

haven't seen any of the QuakeCon setup, but any deathmatch style clips I've seen broadcast on G4 have always been from the first person point of view.

Congratulations for being the only person that watches "G4 TechTV" since the switch.

Re:3rd person (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9999781)

I hear you typing, but all I see is Waahhhhhhhhh.

Re:3rd person (1)

Whalou (721698) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999893)

They should ask the Rooster Teeth crew (the people behind Red vs Blue [] ) to direct.
This would make great entertainment

It can't be worse than... (4, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999804)

...Scrabble on ESPN [] .

FragTV (4, Insightful)

BlueCup (753410) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999854)

There's a station available in Winamp that I believe is called "FragTV" that plays peoples recorded kills to music. I've spent more than a few hours watching it, though I'll admit, there probably aren't a lot of people like me out there that would enjoy this as much as me... but there is surely an audience.

Re:FragTV (1)

Pascho (806554) | more than 10 years ago | (#10007113)

If there is a niche for where to broadcast games and attract an audience, it is the internet. The problem is that it takes some sort of organizational structure to keep the average person interested. If the content is on TV it is being produced, possibly set to music, and presented to the audience. The side people are already in tune to is the ability to simply put a few clips up online and then let the best of them gain ratings so that users can watch them. That is just too much work for the average bear, perhaps TV is easy enough.

Or... (3, Insightful)

Ev0lution (804501) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999862)

...are advertisers ready for competitive gaming on TV? If they are, it'll be shown.

Queasy (0)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999905)

I get queasy watching my friend play FarCry, so I hardly think it will catch on until the camera/POV system is fixed. Last thing we want is a system where the camera is as bad as that tethered monster they used for the XFL.

Re:Queasy (0)

FlimFlamboyant (804293) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002135)

Exactly. Quake (and all of it's millions of clones) faces a serious challenge to become a viable "spectator sport", and a good part of the challenge lies in the field of viewability.

Most sports have a single point of focus; a ball, or whatever the case may be, where the audience can focus the majority of it's attention and catch most of the action by doing so. With deathmatch games such as these, the action is all over the place, and there's no practical way to see it all at once. That, combined with a 3D perspective that would make a lot of people toss their cookies, puts a serious damper on this.

Re:Queasy (0)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002262)

So very well said. And it only seems to be getting worse. The original UT seemed to be quite watchable, but recent iterations of the game have made efforts to make the action more frantic and choppy, and thus, less watchable - even for those playing the game. I know I would never watch it on TV.

I guess I'd watch it. (5, Funny)

dave-tx (684169) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999925)

I watched 45 minutes of "World Series of Poker" last night, so I suppose I'd watch just about anything.

parent is more relevant than you think: (3, Insightful)

muel (132794) | more than 10 years ago | (#10002572)

The recent success of World Series of Poker championships on ESPN (and, yes, the word is 'success,' as the stuff has been driving up ESPN's ratings in surprising fashion) proves that what you're saying isn't so much of a joke.

People will watch any competition on television if it's crafted correctly. Forget the other stuff people have said about making televised competitions look like movies. G4 does that sometimes and the result is boring.

No, the real kicker is personalities. The success of WSOP programs is found in the combo of competition and the humans involved in that competition. Dads, young novices, old mainstays, families, "crew"s, and all their backstories and quirks and so on. Otherwise, the actual poker is some pretty boring stuff.

If a program can edit together competition highlights that pay as much attention to the gamers as to the game, then there's a serious shot at mainstream success. Could that be done? Perhaps not as easily as poker, as the participants aren't as "all over the board" in the gaming world (this is the same reason bowling competitions generally suck ass on TV), but the possibility is still worth noting.

Re:parent is more relevant than you think: (1)

mike_mgo (589966) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006190)

Part of the success of poker on tv though is the thrill in seeing someone bet half a million dollars on a single hand. I realize that they're not really betting a half million dollars (and certainly not of their own money) but I don't think there is any hook like this comparable for gaming.

Futhermore, I don't think there is enough of an audience for gaming to make it as popular as poker is. Granted this will change to acertain degree as people who grew up playing games get older. But I think this will always be an issues of gaming being a niche "sport" for spectators at best.

And one other hook that poker has is that everyone watching thinks to themself, hey I can play as well as these guys (at least if I can see their cards). So in the back of some peoples minds there is the thought that they could hop in the car, drive to Atlantic City and beat Johnny Chan out of $100,000 ala Matt Damon in Rounders.

Re:I guess I'd watch it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005030)

...and here's the flop...

Re:I guess I'd watch it. (1)

Zawash (147532) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999988)

I guess the clue is to air it late at night, when the Insomniacs are the only ones awake.. :)

Fore! (2, Insightful)

robbway (200983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9999934)

I am a rabid gamer for almost 30 years (yes, Pong on up!). I still play games a lot. Do I like to watch competitions on TV? No. They're uninteresting. Even more, the commentary is not needed. Commentary detracts from the overall experience.

Watching games played on TV is exactly like watching bowling or golf on TV. To me, these three things (video games, bowling, golf) are fun to play, but not to watch. It kind of reminds me that I'm not doing anything but vegetating in front of the boob tube.

Re:Fore! (1)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 10 years ago | (#10000746)

Actually, there are some out there who enjoy watching fighting games. There are several web sites out there which host videos of experts playing them against each other, and I have to admit that it can be quite impressive at times (especially when they can pull off advanced combos).

Re:Fore! (2, Insightful)

Paolomania (160098) | more than 10 years ago | (#10001869)

I tend to find watching sports that I know nothing about to be very boring. For instance, watching an NFL game before I played football was just like watching a meaningless pile-on of huge men - but after learning both the rules and the nuances of strategy involved it became much more interesting to watch.

I think good commentating would play a large part in keeping a televised gaming event interesting. Someone to describe to the home viewing audience what is happening on screen ("we can see here in the replay that Daigo has individually parried every hit of his opponent's super-combo, in order to do this, he had to respond to each individual hit with split-second timing!"), what the strategic implications of certain moves are ("well Chuck, it seems like the terrorist team is piling the bodies of their fallen teammates on the bomb - this is a new strategy in this version of the ..."), and what the heck all the l33t sp34k trash-talk means ("but Chuck, when the red captain calls the other team 'ub3r' he is actually *insulting* them by sarchastically using an *out-of-style* superlative to imply that their time has passed...")

People watch sports (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005671)

to see things they wish they could do. It's incredibly cool to see someone pull a 30+ hit combo in a game like Virtua Fighter or Street Fighter III. Anyone remember that video posted on /. a few weeks back where the guy parried a super from Chun-Li?. I can't do that, but it's cool seeing it done..

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