One of the biggest problems facing the growth of esports is their relatively specific vocabularies. Seriously, try to explain to your mom, or even your well-meaning friend what League of Legends is.
First, you’d need them to understand how your run-of-the-mill RTS controls, and then hope you can pass on a fundamental knowledge of action-RPG talent trees, crit-chance, and party building. Then, you’d need to get them to fuse those two ideas while throwing in all the rapid-fire metagame conceptions which is what makes esports interesting in the first place.
That isn’t easy. Trust me. I’ve tried.
But, hopefully, as video games grow alongside Twitch, Red Bull and all sorts of professional sponsorships, the insular strategies that spark the MOBA world will spill out into all sorts of different communities. With that in mind, I wrote about a few different games I’d love to see get blessed with a fanatical, streamable pro scene. We can dream, right?
Forza Motorsport, or any serious racing game
It’s strange that in this renaissance of competitive gaming, we’ve really not seen a pro community spring up for a hardcore driving sim. It’s not to say that people don’t play these games, Forza in particular sports a robust online community, but it’s still not the sort of thing you’re going to find on Twitch. As of right now, the most popular racing game on the internet is what, Mario Kart? That seems weird.
I don’t think the answer is necessarily Forza or Gran Turismo, I’d be more interested to see going forward, where developers are specifically making games to capture an esports audience, if someone might take a crack at an explicitly multiplayer focused car game. Maybe that’s something wacky and fan friendly, like that erstwhile new Burnout, or maybe a new IP altogether. Either way, it’s a shame we don’t have an internet grand circuit, and I hope that changes soon.
The thing that’s always attracted me to the Total War series was its comprehensive look at the humongous effort it took to trudge massive armies around a globe in antiquity. In the modern era of drones and insurgency it’s hard to remember that once upon a time a wartime industry would affect every facet of day-to-day life.
In Total War you find yourself conscripting commoners in conquered cities to keep trebuchets rolling off the assembly line, clawing and scratching you way to keep up with your opponent’s discipline. A competitive Total War scene would pit the internet’s greatest generals against each other on the battlefield, but it’d also be a war of infrastructure, won and loss through the attrition of a long, hard, tiresome conflict.
Our current esports climate settles warfare in 20-40 minute spurts, but it’d be interesting to watch a duel that took a little more stamina.
Is there such thing as high-level Mario Party play? You know, that venerable N64 slog that offered more random, stupid chance than your average game of Monopoly? That game where, after burning hours completing a campaign, would simply shrug and give players potentially game-winning bonus stars for “having the biggest smile,” or whatever?
I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. You may have seen Awesome Games Done Quick and watched the focused teens of the world 100 percented long-forgotten 3D Sonic games in record time. I guarantee you that there is a microscopic community out there totally invested in playing Mario Party the most efficient way possible. It is our duty, as lovers of video games and weird nonsense, to elevate this community as high as we possibly can.
As unrealistic as this might be, I think this is my personal favorite proposition. Ten players dotted across a randomly-generated earth with the single goal of cultivating a scientific/militaristic/diplomatic/cultural victory over the course of what, 30 hours? It’d be like the Masters. The Civilization world championships would take up an entire weekend and serve as one of the most grueling feats in all of video games. It wouldn’t be balanced, but it’d be a profound social experiment.
The faulty alliances that spring up and dissolve, the espionage, the religious persecution, the testy trade relations. the fear in the eyes of the last remaining peaceful nation as they desperately try and wrap up their tourism points and win before the Mongols sack the capital—it’d be all that salty historical drama we lust for boiled down into a single game. Sure the campaign would get boring at times, but who cares?
The people who tune into watch six hours of Grand Master chess understand that sometimes true brilliance needs to be digested slowly. I can’t be the only one to be utterly enthralled with the idea of virtual empires rising and falling in real time.