E-Sports

E-Sports

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We live in constant violence. It seems like every year there’s a domestic event highlighted by a bloody rampage by crazed individuals armed with weapons that are meant for such frenzies. The most recent that are still in people’s minds would be the Washington Sniper and the Columbine High School shootings. While it may be true that psychologically troubled individuals planned out and executed both events, later investigations pointed out one hauntingly similar coincidence. The killers practiced on simulated violence that comes with video games (http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=Eric+Harris+and+Dylan+Klebold&gwp=8&curtab=2222_1). And because of that, the gaming industry took massive repercussions, with lists such as the one Mothers Against Violence in America created, in which games such as Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, Doom 3, Half-Life 2, and Halo are supposed to be avoided by parents at all costs (Lottie). The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility mentions the same games but takes it a step further stating that “violent interactive media indicates that it has a strong and more lasting effect on violent behavior…in children and adolescents.” (http://www.iccr.org/issues/violence/jointstatement020705.PDF) But is that the truth? Will everyone playing an Entertainment Software Rating Board rated Mature game become a crazed, violent individual who wants to commit mass murders? The mass populace of the United States may say so, but the rest of world seems to disagree (McDonald, 16). Gaming has minimal effects, if not any, on the mental health of its crowd. With legislation pushing for anti-gaming acts, the casual and professional gaming communities are starting to suffer because of a few crazed individuals. Whereas casual gamers will probably complain, American pros will take whatever action they can to slow down the barrage of acts and laws that will hinder their ability to compete at level with foreign professional gaming teams.
     One of the ideas that hasn’t taken hold in the United States would be the idea of Electronic Sports or Professional Gaming (commonly known as E-Sports). The rest of the world, namely Europe and Asia, respects and accepts E-Sports, whereas the United States looks down on it. America tries to make attaining competitive games Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike:Source Halo, Warcraft 3 and others difficult for everybody. Europe and Asia on the other hand, have live media coverage at events broadcasted over national television. If a common middle-class mother in America mentions something about games, negative comments would follow suit. If the same case was to happen in Norway, then the responses would be neutral and would wind up with the mothers conversing about their sons/daughters placement in the last major event they were in.

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One of the primary reasons for the acceptance of E-Sports in Europe would be the way it’s viewed. Europeans view E-Sports as a “cultural artifact.” They also discovered that there’s “more to games than violence” (http://www.gamestudies.org/0401/rau/) Apparently, Americans have yet to make such a discovery. America’s conservative view on E-Sports is more spread out through the country. For example, in Europe, Asia, and Canada there are many Local Area Network, known as LAN, centers dedicated for gaming alone, and are popular places for social gatherings after school. There isn’t even one single center that caters for gamers only in Chicago. There are also much more events commonly known as LAN parties held in Europe and Asia. These parties generally have competitions between teams of different games, namely Counter-Strike, and usually award the winners prizes. In Europe, such “parties” are held nearly every month where events in the U.S are spread out and rare. The market in Europe and Asia is much friendlier toward gamers, whereas there practically isn’t a market in the U.S. This may also help explain why Europeans are more accepting of E-Sports. (Fromme)      
     The culture found in competitive gaming is interesting and fulfilling. One of the more famous and heavily fabled leagues where the world’s most high-caliber teams duke it out would be the Cyberathlete Professional League. (http://www.thecpl.com/winter2004/) Every year during winter and summer, there are tournaments held, with Counter-Strike being the most popular. This is where some of Europe’s finest from Sweden, Norway, and Germany battle against other excellent teams from Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The winning team wins $100,000 and the prestige and respect that goes with it. But it’s not all about winning that makes such events worthwhile. Such events are similar to the LAN centers around Europe and Asia. Professional gamers can watch other teams with comparable skill to see how they play, talk about the tactics they used, and so and so fourth. In general, not only will a spectator see some amazing competition and entertainment, they will also get to talk to the stars in the E-Sport world that are comparable to Kobe Bryant in the National Basketball League. Such intimacy with the stars of the game is hard to come by in other sports.
     E-Sports is just like regular physical sports, with statistics being available for teams and players. Other players follow those statistics, such as the ones found at gotfrag.com religiously and discuss them, just how baseball fans discuss about Sammy Sosa’s home runs. Team rankings such as the ones found at gotfrag.com are respected as much as an NCAA basketball team’s seed ranking. It’s especially serious in Europe and Asia where sometimes “being a professional gamer earns you thousands a month, even if you are not the top of the crop”. (taste) In fact, professional gaming in Europe and Asia can be a full-time job, and if a person is good enough, they can live off of all the prize money. In fact, an American named Jonathon Wendel has made over $100K in one year of professional gaming. (Millington) And of course, there is always the other players that look up to such stars as role models. In fact, rumors are that China, the host of Summer Olympics in 2008, may very well be including computer games in the lineup with the other “traditional” sports (taste).
     If China does include a battery of computer games for the 2008 Olympics, then that would probably be the point where computer gaming becomes mainstream (Millington), including in the U.S. If the general population of the United States doesn’t see the worldwide acceptance of E-Sports as “real competition,” then it probably never will in the United States.
     But computer games aren’t the only things that the American population isn’t aware of. The massacre at Columbine could have been avoided. It didn’t have to be drastic, with police arresting the 2 shooters before they went on the rampage. It could have been as easy as sending both of them to a good psychologist. But before the event, it would have been outrageous for a young man to be sent to a psychologist. Why? According to Don Kindlon, PhD, the American population sees young men as tough, unbreakable, and unproblematic. That’s what a tough guy should be, right? And because every parent wants their son to be the tough leader who can rally his football team to victory, or the hard-working scholar who does all his work without question, they attempt to lead them through childhood trying to make them as emotionally strong as possible. But what actually happens is the boy becomes emotionally illiterate. They won’t know how they feel. For example, if a parent is walking at a park with their young son, who spots someone crying and asks what that was all about, then the parent would be inclined to say it’s nothing and to ignore it, or that it was a sign of weakness. But if a young girl asks the same question, then the parent would explain about the cause of the person’s distress, such as sadness, pain, or something else. Eventually, boys and men will be angry, afraid, and confused at their lack of understanding. And anger, fear, and confusion is the leading cause of aggression for men and boys. But can it be avoided? Most would say no. The media has this image of how a man is supposed to be. They drive trucks, are built, have a lot of girls, and are respected throughout. Homosexuals will be tormented because they’re not “manly”. They have to be big, strong, and to be good at some form of sports. They can’t be childish, they must be grown up. The list goes on and on. But what do boys have to defend themselves with? Psychologists point that violent acts are like armor to boys. When boys start getting rejected by friends, receiving disinterested responses from fathers, and less opportunities to share their painful feelings, then they tend to become aggressive and being taking their feelings out on others.
     But what is the main way to defuse such anger and violence? Eventually, young boys will learn to use their aggressiveness in physical sports, such as football and soccer. Sports are well known to defuse anger and leads to competitiveness and sportsmanship. Being on a sports team as a good team player will earn a boy friends, respect for his part on the team, and praise from his coaches. Such things are important later on in life.
     Thomas L. McDonald states that as a gamer, he has “darker impulses that we can’t pretend don’t exist” (14) and that exorcising such dark impulses in games is more appealing that doing so on his neighbor’s skull. It is true that because of how men are commonly brought up, they are prone to violence in adulthood. And although sports still is a good way to let loose some of those emotions, sometimes your urge for violence can only be satisfied with actual violence. That is where competitive games come in. Not only is there an acceptable amount of violence that can satisfy anyone’s hunger for violence should it be necessary, but the teamwork involved would also calm people down. Competitive games aren’t about mad crazy killing. More often than not, it requires teamwork and strategy to achieve your team’s goals. From capturing a flag, to planting a bomb, all competitive games require teamwork in order to win. While it can lead to frustration, working well with one’s team can lead to a very fulfilling gaming experience. Once you move up from casual gaming, it becomes a sport. E-Sports is all about having great skill and using your abilities, to fit into a team to lead it to victory against other veterans. It’s about sportsmanship, teamwork, and the desire to win for prestige and respect. No, games don’t make individuals violent. Competitive games are a way to release the anger and violence inside, and to turn it into amazing shows of skill and strategy, where friends are made, and memories at LAN parties being with an individual for a long time.















References

1.     McDonald, Thomas. Maximum PC, Volume 10, No. 3. March 2005. Future Network USA Publications p.14
2.     McDonald, Thomas. Maximum PC, Volume 10, No. 2. February 2005. Future Network USA Publications p. 16
3.     Kindlon, Dan PhD. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. Ballantine Books, 2000, New York. P.218-238. p. 4-15, p.78-89
4.     taste, A Brief Look at Professional Gaming. July 25th, 2004, http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/7/23/235053/081
5.     Millington, Richard, Professional Gaming: Myths, Facts, and Reality. September 3, 2003, http://www.ukterrorist.com/articles/progaming/
6.     Cyberathlete Professional League, Cyberathlete Extreme Winter Championships. November 30, 2004. http://www.thecpl.com/winter2004/
7.     Kim, Lottie, Mothers Against Violence in America. October 10, 2002. http://www.mavia.org/gamesmart-news.html
8.     Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Joint Statement and Signatories on Violent Video Games. February 7, 2005. http://www.iccr.org/issues/violence/jointstatement020705.PDF
9.     Answers.com, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold: Information, http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=Eric+Harris+and+Dylan+Klebold&gwp=8&curtab=2222_1
10.      Fromme, Johannes. Computer Games as a Part of Children’s Culture. May, 2003. http://www.gamestudies.org/0301/fromme/
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