It's a call to action. 2011 was a fantastic year for SC2 and eSports (note: when I refer to eSports for me that is SC2, for you it may be a different game, a lot of what I talk about is transferable to other games so please feel free to extrapolate to other games if you prefer) and in 2012 we can do better.
In this blog I will be addressing a lot of questions I get asked frequently like "how can I contribute?" and I will try and shed some light on subjects that previously have come up and gone down with not much in the way of a word.
WARNING: This will be lengthy. I have a lot to say on this subject and I want to share as much of it as possible.
1. Where will we go in SC2?
-Anything is possible. Had you asked me if we would see 16k people at a Blizzcon SC2 event I would have balked at the idea. 200k+ people on a stream viewing an MLG final? Monster, Redbull, Youtube and others stepping in... ludicrous. The time to doubt where SC2 can go is over. Speculating on bubbles and limits for this game and our community is a thing of the past. Or at least it should be. If you spend time predicting where this ends or how it won't succeed you have blinded yourself to the growth and stimulus we have experienced in this past year. SC2 has raised gaming to levels no other game has before. Simple as that. I welcome challenges to that statement but I would argue that by and large what SC2 has done in this past year for competitive gaming and the community around the game (casual, hobbyist or more) is unparalleled. My first challenge to you is to dare to dream.
A. I want stadiums filled with people for a SC2 event. 16k was nice. Why not 32k? Why not have musical groups opening for a major event like we have in Korea and at a Blizzcon? Imagine loading up your car with 3-4 of your best friends for a cross state trip to a huge outdoor stadium overlooking a gorgeous city-scape lit up in the early hours of the night. All the while driving and talking about the coming matches to be played. The stories covered on your favorite players and how excited you are to see your favorite caster guide you through this experience. SC2 doesn't have to be an experience shared in a basement or a bedroom. We have seen SC2 take over bars. People getting into the competitive spirit and melding places of recreation with their hobby SC2. Beers, food and fun can be shared both in the bar and beyond. Lets go big.
B. I want ESPN like coverage of games. Why is it unrealistic to imagine an ESPN 2 coverage of a 100k tourney played monthly where hundreds of thousands of people tune in, drive to the event or consume constant media surrounding the event? We deserve panels of experts sitting in professional studios discussing the journey of a team and it's players. The struggle, the drama and everything that comes with it. I want to see them cut to Day9 looking trim and well kept in front of a green screen where he breaks down a well executed flank. I want scores running at the bottom of the screen for that weeks CSL, Playhem, TSL, IPL, NASL etc etc... We as a community spend a lot of time talking about how SC2 isn't fit for the screen. We don't need it.. it will only ruin things. Dare to dream. The TV and mainstream media will reach new places streaming alone simply cannot. If your fathers watch a personal story on White-rA and his upbringing in Odessa Ukraine and he starts to understand the human behind the game there is MORE of a chance that he will accept the game.. the examples and potential is limitless. Why imagine ways it can fail and doubt.. when we can push the envelope and go for it.
C. Help me dream it. What are your ideas? What is your wishlist for SC2? Tweet them. Talk about them at work. Blog, stream, vlog... spread the word that we are raising the ceiling on SC2.
2. What can I do in SC2? How can I help?
-Nobody is without the power to help build this dream. The poorest college student or the wealthiest self-employed business owner.. each of you have the ability and the means. If money is not your currency then your voice is. If you have money good, the game can use that too. It's easy to experience the growth of SC2 and be there for the ride. It takes action to look at that growth and say "What can I do?" Each and every one of us can sit around and watch it grow or we can jump in and help raise our passion to levels beyond what we thought possible. In this section I will empower you to get involved and ask that you once again, not look for ways to count yourself out but beg the question: What can I do?
A. Social media is as intertwined with gaming as it has ever been. Twitter, youtube, streaming services, blogging, podcasting etc etc...it's all huge and extremely important. Players, casters, management, sponsors.. all of them are looking to social media as a mechanism for reach and productivity. The reach is you the consumer. The productivity is what you do once they reach you. Do you love TL? Buy Razer. Do you love Intel cause of IEM or who they sponsor? Email, tweet, view buy.. consume! Be loyal to the players, casters, companies and anything else that is working within the confines of SC2 and eSports. Your favorite player should be followed by you on twitter. You don't have one? Make one. Not because you think twitter is awesome and you NEED to be on twitter but because your favorite player has more reach and notability when they are actively being supported by their fans. Like their fanpage, subscribe to their youtube do anything and everything to embolden their social media. This seems simple and like a no brainer but it actually takes work. Following Sheth on twitter? Did you know he has a fan page? Are you enlisted there? Does he have a youtube? I don't know, go look! Take that next step to help further the cause of those that carry the torch for SC2. You can be a part of that flame. You can help their light reach more people and attract more legitimacy. Players, casters and companies can NOT do it on their own. They NEED you to make this work. It is working, but why just work when you can THRIVE? Why grow when you can explode onward and upward?
B. Consume and communicate. Don't just buy an ASUS monitor, don't just attend an MLG... consume and then talk about it. Has anyone thought to mail the mayor of Providence and thank him for what he did to help host MLG? Did anyone tweet ASUS and thank them for their recent tourney they headlined? Maybe some did... maybe some didn't... don't ask, DO. Make it a goal to once a week send out an email to a company you support and tell them you support them because of what they do for your favorite team, player, league or tourney. I can personally vouch for how important this is. I can tell you right now I have had countless conversations with executives from Steelseries, Intel, Kingston Hyper X, Monster and so on.. and each and every one of them talks vehemently about how important this concept is. When Redbull sponsors Bomber and then gets 30k emails from avid SC2/Bomber fans about how excited they are that Redbull is getting involved do you think they go "ah gee thanks" or do they go "Woah, we've never had that before.. what if we sponsor another player? Team? House? League..." This is ACTUALLY how it works. If they KNOW their investment is being received by aware and consuming people they will invest more and more. If Bomber gets sponsored and we all go "yay" and nobody moves much beyond that we increase the chances of an event like that meaning not much. Could Redbull invest anyways? Sure, but why leave that to chance? Why not up our chances of getting a huge company involved in SC2?
Have a favorite stream you watch? Favorite podcast you listen to? Favorite youtube channel? Tweet it, tell someone at work, show the family at thanksgiving. In the past we would consume for private pleasure. We'd talk about it where other people are familiar with the subject and we'd be content. Take this as a personal pledge: Show 5 people a SC2 stream, vod, podcast or w/e before 2012. Then work to double or triple that number in 2012. Why should we keep this to ourselves? I believe SC2 to be the best game ever made. I believe this community to be the most capable one (in terms of gaming) on earth. It would be down right selfish of us as a group to not share that. Doing homework? Open up 2-3 player streams. Found something amazing on Husky's youtube channel? Tweet it, show your sister.. tell em what it's about. Do not let yourself be that shy consumer that only seeks to entertain themselves... consume and share.. get more people involved. Even if you try 20 times and you only get 1 person that is 1 person we wouldn't have had otherwise.
This is one of the most important sections of my article. It is the common place we all can work within. You don't need hundreds of man hours or thousands of dollars to tweet a link to a stream, youtube or podcast. You don't need some high-powered job to share info on SC2 with people who otherwise wouldn't have known... this is where you can have a real impact on where SC2 goes in 2012 and beyond. This is where you ask, "What can I do?" and I answer. This is where we act.
C. Support the players. This will overlap a bit but it bears every mention possible. Email Stephano or PM him on TL and say "way to go!" when he wins. Share a story about how you nearly cried when he won IPL3 cause he meant so much to you. Send a picture you drew to CatZ when you stayed up late and watched his stream and all it's shenanigans. Shake hands with players at events and tell em you support them. Follow their streams (here is the redundancy), add them on twitter etc... make it your business to be their business. The better they do and the more love and attention they get the more this game flourishes. We need our players.
This is a subject everyone knows about but not everyone actively works on. Once again it is easy for us to think "that doesn't really matter" or "what does that actually do?" but I am once again here to tell you that it means a lot. Every time I think back to this it makes me cry but I cry with a feeling of motivation and strength. Not too long ago when I was really down, depressed and feeling horrible about myself due to poor play, lack of results and tough public criticism I was sent a message. An individual opened up talking about how they respected me and wanted to thank me for what I had done for them but then they said I saved their life. Naturally I read that as impossible strong and probably an exaggeration. The person told a story about how terrible flooding in Australia had ruined a lot of lives and people in his part of town were sitting on the roofs of their houses hoping for someone to save them. Many had died and the outlook was bad. He and his family huddled around presumably some iPhone or something of that nature and listened to the State of the Game podcast that he had down loaded. They spent hours laughing at the jokes and discussing the subjects they had all listened to already but were now using as an escape. Rather than sit and stare at the flooding waters carrying their once peaceful town away they enjoyed each others company and listened to our podcast. In sharing that he has changed my life. Had he kept that to himself I never would have known and the depth and potential for what my work can do would possibly never have connected with me. Knowing what I know now I go to that place for strength and motivation when things get really tough. If I could ever do that for even 1 more person as indirectly as that was... I can die knowing I made a difference through my passion and it was all worth it.
D. Create. This is an area where I think I will need to follow up on.. I fancy myself an ideas man. I love coming up with ideas for what we can do differently or new. I discussed this over drinks with Chobopeon, Kim Rom and a few others... (these will just be ideas, but this is a section where I encourage YOU to contribute!) free-lance journalism. We don't have it in SC2. Slasher is tied to MLG, JP is tied to MLG, Wheat has his connections and so on and so forth. Everyone at this time answers to someone so whether directly or indirectly their word and how they express it IS changed. If someone hunts down an article and then sells it to TL or whoever they have the unique ability to give an unbiased perspective or hit a hard truth. They can tell a personal story about a player without the reader viewing it as an advertisement for that organizations own employee. I'm not asking for TMZ or whistle-blowers.. I am asking for good journalism which definitely can include components of the previously mentioned media but perhaps it also means more honest coverage.
Player agents. At this time we have players negotiation six figure salaries for themselves and of course that is the extreme case but it will become more and more common.. additionally it doesn't take a six figure salary to necessitate the need for an agent. We have none though. Sports agents don't understand how to monetize a SC2 player. They don't know the first thing about our market. This is something someone could do and the first to do it would have all the business. Are you that person? Create.
The potential here is of course limitless. The ideas I laid out are pretty advanced. But what else can we do that is not so extreme? Have skill in graphic design? Contact your favorite team, offer to help on the website, ask if there is a job available. Contact your favorite player and offer to redo their youtube. One individual who is now paid and working for EG started out by contacting me and Anna and asked if he could do free work on our youtube pages.. EG liked what they saw and now he has a job in the field he is most excited about.
What can you do? What are your ideas?
3. We the people
-Posting on forums, attending events.. being the masses are we doing everything we can to help? Is it our obligation to work for this community? These kind of questions should be asked and then actively worked with. If you want to passively experience and gain from SC2 that is totally fine. That is your right. I don't think less of you for it by any means. But if you've ever wanted to do more then it is well within your ability to function as a positive influence within the SC2 community.
A. Many have heard me talk about being critical of players.. let me clarify. I am by no means saying don't do this. It's natural, it's a part of our fun with this game and it helps us refine the bad. It is of course something we will do. That said, we can take it to levels that are inappropriate. I myself am guilty of this as I know many would be quick to point out. A few distinctions: Shows are the place to be critical. Discussing players in threads where they are playing is appropriate. Mentioning it all over the place every time their name is brought up? Tweeting them hate messages? Spamming stream chat with similar vile talk? Not good. We can't stop the bad apples but we can discourage it. Don't laugh, don't respond and move along.. let them have an audience of 1. Or, if you must respond, tell em to knock it off. Will it continue? Sure. Can we stop it? Never entirely.. but we can reduce it's attraction. Being constructively critical or being harsh but appropriate is NOT the same. I am not saying pretend we only do great and never make mistakes but I am saying monitor the severity and keep it logical. If you are at least trying to operate within these parameters than you are doing what I would think, a great community member should do.
B. Put more thought into what you say and do. Players are reachable. We read, hear and see what you say and do. Some of us more than others but you CAN communicate with us. Be aware of that. If what you are saying is exactly what you want to say than fine. If you find yourself saying "well they probably won't read it anyways" or "he will know I am joking I think..." then read it over again, take a second and then post it. Give yourself that bit of moderation so we can advance how we communicate as a collective.
C. Moderate. TL is often regarded as too harsh... I don't think it's harsh enough. Don't just close a thread mocking a player, delete it. That closed thread can still be found. Actively upvote and downvote on Reddit.. there is a lot of really dumb stuff that makes it far (sometimes) on reddit. As such, most of the community regards Reddit as a silly place where no real discussion is had. But that is home to a lot of people who WANT that place to be taken serious... be an active part of that! Jokes are great, poking fun at players and people is fine and good but taking it to extreme levels shouldn't be allowed to passively happen.. do something about it. I used TL and Reddit as examples but there are countless places where SC2 is discussed.. clean up your youtube comments, block trolls on twitter and ignore them... ban all the hate you can find in your stream chat. If we can clean up this community by 1% we have made the SC2 world a better place for everyone.
4. A call to action
-That is exactly what I had said this was about and that is exactly what I mean to do. I will tweet this and ask for it to be retweeted. I will read each comment posted in here and interact with as many as possible.
Do your part. Retweet this. Didn't like how it was written? Rewrite it. Read it out-loud on your youtube, stream it, repost it.. share it. Rethink it.. post your own blog with your own version. Everything I wrote about is real and possible. I have worked within this community and industry enough to tell you that everything and anything is possible with SC2. Help me make 2011 a great year and 2012 a year of excess. Put SC2 in places it was never thought possible. Tell people who have never heard about it... do any and everything you can to grow this community and the game we love.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I am not the only one. - John Lennon