eSports: A New Production Frontier

eSports in 2019 are still in their early stages of development here in the west but for some companies, the early stages are over.

The arena filled with people watching Overwatch

eSports is a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers that either represent a country/city or even are just made-up teams. 

“Esports traces its origins back to 1972, when a Space Invaders Championship yielded 10,000 participants. Fast forward to 1998, and the legendary Starcraft 2 tournament on PC boasted more than 50 million online viewers, 17 million of those coming from Twitch.”

Now Overwatch, the biggest eSport in North America is also a game that came out in 2016 has hit a stride in the eSports scene for not only bringing people from all over the gaming community together but traditional sports fans as well.

Though the original intention when developing the game was to keep it from becoming a large competitive game and keep things very open to all players and player type. Now that mindset is still at the core of the game but things have changed over the last 4 years.

Now, some people don’t consider eSports a real sport even though players and fans would passionately argue that it is. The eSports website site states that “With USD $5 Million in prizes, thrilling storylines, guaranteed player salaries, and cutting-edge production value, the Overwatch League is the world’s premier eSports league”

So Why Watch Instead of Just Playing a Video Game?

The digital format of eSports offers something that traditional sports can’t offer–the player’s actual point-of-view. Being able to see everything from the character the player is currently playing.

This point-of-view feature is truly next-gen in the gaming world. In the Overwatch League series, there are multiple camera angles displayed for fans just like in a physical sports tournament.

Being able to be instantly transported to the action is something that simply can’t be done in sports like football or basketball since you as a viewer are put into the game visually. And it’s that total immersion that fans could only dream of.

So How Does This Work?

On top of having a camera crew in the stadium and a separate crew filming the analysts, the team behind the Overwatch League has implemented a faux crew in-game to help capture the action.

The crew play as a ‘spectator’ who cannot be seen by other spectators or by players and have no collision so they can get into positions and make camera movements of the like that you have seen already in live sports.

After that, they just use the switcher to change between shots. You can see examples of this below.

If it’s the behind the scenes thing that you’re are into might I suggest this video. Though not as in-depth can give great insight into how the operation is running.

So why eSports?

Since eSports have become very popular in the last few years a lot of companies have been trying to adapt to the viewer base it draws in.

Some are multicasting on their respective channels and live streaming. But even though some eSports are televised most are live-streamed for free on sites like youtube or twitch and dont require you to pay a cable company or the sites themselves.

But for some companies, it’s about keeping fans happy. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, companies like the NHL and F1 have been hosting simulated games that you can view on many different streaming platforms like Twitch.tv.

Now the push for this seems to indicate that without the progress that eSports has made, this way to view traditional sports would not be as common.

The Big Decision

For first year students, deciding what field you want to specialize in can be a difficult decision.  For Interactive Media Arts students, prior to registering for the program, there were two different sides: Interactive and Media.  Now that we’re in the month of April, both the Media and Interactive students have another decision to make.

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