Category Archives: E-Sports

Candidate Plays World of Warcraft: Film at Eleven

Okay, need I even say that it should be absolutely no big deal that a candidate for office plays a computer game on a regular basis? Particularly if the candidate is playing the most popular computer game in the world?

Okay, look. Everybody makes a big deal about American farmers, right? Backbone of the country, get lavish recognition, tend to feature prominently in campaign ads, issues are front-and-centre in debates, etc. Granted, farming is important. It still remains the fact, though, that there are more people in America playing Worcraft these days than there are farmers. Really.

Yes, okay, she’s a Democrat and they’re the GOP. It’s part of the game. Still, this is unfortunate:

“For nearly a year, my time and priorities have been focused on two things: getting out and meeting the people in my district and working as a social worker with Maine kids and families,” Lachowicz said. “In the last ten months, I’ve spent no more than forty five minutes play WoW. I also knit socks—and that too has taken a back seat to my work and my campaign.

“My comments were and continue to be taken out of context,” she added. “In the context of the game it’s no different than words like ‘throwing a bomb’ are used in football. It’s unfortunate that the Maine GOP is continuing to distract from the real issues impacting Maine families–and the record of the last two years while they’ve been running Augusta.

I understand why she’s minimizing a bit, but I honestly believe that there’s no reason for it. They aren’t going to back off on the point. They look like they’re changing their tack a bit, but

I completely agree with her point about the context of the comments, though. Sure, that “stabbing” thing sounds bad out of context. It’s still important. Backing off on that point just means you’re conceding a point that no game-player has any business conceding: that there’s a big black line between the fiction-worlds in gaming and people’s real worlds. It’s been a long hard struggle for all artists across every medium to make that distinction clear. An actor isn’t “stabbing” anyone, a writer isn’t “stabbing” anyone, a role-player isn’t “stabbing” anyone, and neither game designers nor game players (since gaming is ultimately collaborative art) isn’t “stabbing” anyone either. She seems to be sticking to her guns on that.

Still, maybe she’s not minimizing all that much.

Lachowicz has received emails and phone calls from people across the country offering their support, many of them thanking her for “being a woman in gaming” and not backing away from her hobby in the face of the campaign. She has also received emails from other Republican politicians who believe the Maine GOP’s campaign is acceptable.

“As a woman I have to say that people have this misconception it’s a teenage boy playing in his parents’ basement, and that’s so not true!” Lachowicz said. “And maybe it’s a good thing that [the GOP] will finally have learned that.”

It’ll be interesting to see if this blows up in their faces, considering this is exactly the sort of thing that interests low-interest voters, and considering gaming is a popular pastime among precisely the male white demo that the Republicans badly depend on. Anti-gamer comments by GOP flacks may not cause those guys to vote Democratic, but they sure as hell aren’t going to be enthusiastic about pulling that Republican lever.

Anyway, my favorite comment on this has to have been this one on Tobold’s blog:

Maybe the republicans checked out her linked character http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/garrosh/Santiaga/advanced.

Look at this horrible thing! She has 345 ilvl, but she didn’t stop playing 2 years ago, but spent time idiot fishing achievements and holiday nonsense.

She is indeed living in a fantasy world if she thinks she is a WoW players. She is an awful noob! Don’t vote for noobs, especially socialist ones!

Forget Democrats and Republicans. Forget conservatives and liberals. The REAL ideological divide is, was, and always will be between poopsocking raiders and n00b casuals.  I can already see the attack ads about how she uses green gems in her dungeon blues.

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DOTA2 Commentary Nails Its Status as an E-Sport

I finally got a chance to watch some high-level DOTA2 tonight. It was part of that invitational that’s going on right now. Can’t say I understood everything that was going on, or even MOST things, but I’ll say this: the commentary was amazing.

Why? Because it conveyed the drama of the game. The problem with a lot of game commentary I’ve run across is that there just isn’t really that much drama, or at least there isn’t much that corresponded to what was going on on-screen. Sure, World of Warcraft arena matches and Starcraft matches have some drama and excitement to them, but the whole thing moves so quickly and is so baffling to watch that you just don’t get what’s going on. Even a skilled player isn’t necessarily going to be able to figure out what’s happening, much less a newbie. The commentary I’ve heard goes up and down, but it’s too fast and frantic to really get a sense of it, and the matches are over too quickly

With this DOTA commentary, though, I had a pretty good idea what was going on even when I didn’t understand the specific terms. Even if I couldn’t figure out what abilities and skills were being used, or which heroes were better at what, I could see the fights going on, and the health bars going down, and the squads of guys running around the map taking others down. I’d hear the announcer’s excitement and tension when a lone hero was trying to get away from the other side and towards the safety of his tower, and I could correlate that with the little guy on the screen clearly hauling ass away from the bad guys.

Plus, I knew that each of those little heroes were being controlled by a player, and that helped humanize them. Seeing a bunch of random Starcraft units get taken down just doesn’t matter.  Seeing players getting taken down does.  There were TONS of little dramatic moments, reflected by the excited, tension-filled commentary, where players were charging each other or running from each other or desperately trying to defend some piece of territory or another. Even if I didn’t know what the hell a DOTA barracks was for, I could tell it was a big deal to lose it just by the desperate attempt to protect it.

World of Warcraft’s Arena matches kinda have that sort of thing, but there it’s a one-and-done situation: any of those little dramatic moments only happens once per player, and then it’s over. Sure, there can be health bar reductions and big saves, but the actual victories only happen once a match. It’s a bit like a boxing match against Tyson back in his heyday: the fight’s over so quickly that you can’t get a sense of it. There’s no broader goal, either; it’s just straight elimination, without all those little gamey objectives that add so much to the fight. The DOTA commentators were able to use those objectives to frame the conflict and determine who had the upper hand. Arena commentators wouldn’t.

I still don’t understand DOTA, mind. I’ll probably pick it up one day, but I know it’s still a hideously complex game that’s extremely punishing towards new players. But the combination of the game’s clever design and the smart commentary let me appreciate it. It made it a pleasure to watch, and that’s what I look for in an e-sport.

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