Apr 11 2014 - 8:44 pm

Swedish politicians settle differences with 'StarCraft' tournament

In Sweden, politicians are learning to settle their differences the civilized way: with video games
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

In Sweden, politicians are learning to settle their differences the civilized way: with video games.

This Sunday—just in time for Sweden’s 2014 elections—a group of politicians will battle to determine which party boasts the best StarCraft player in Sweden.

The tournament, called Politikerstarcraft, is nominally just for bragging rights. But don’t let that fool you. Last tournament's champion, Mathias Sundin, a parliament reserve for Folkpartiet and a leading politician in the city of Norrköping, saw his party carry the ensuing election.

The event is the brainchild of one Jonathan Rieder Lundkvist, who conceived of the idea in 2010 as a way to increase awareness of esports in politics, and of politics among gamers. At the time Lundkvist was a member of the Pirate Party, a relatively new political entity formed in 2006 that focuses on issues like copyright and patent reform, internet censorship, and net neutrality.

He thought it would be fun to challenge Sweden’s other parties to a friendly competition.

“We emailed a few contacts we had in other parties and just had a little tournament,” he said.

This time, it’s taken a bit more effort. Lundkvist has tossed aside his party affiliation to serve as an unbiased administrator, and tried to take advantage of social media to promote the event. Many of his party contacts had moved on, but that didn’t stop him. He contacted the parties again and secured their participation, and brought in a Swedish Starcraft commentator duo, Living on the Ladder, to broadcast the event. “I have a certain fondness [for them] due to the jokes they made at my expense when they casted me back in the day,” said Lundkvist.

If you can’t handle Swedish, TeamprOpertyTV will put out an English cast, though you'll probably miss out on the best political quips.

It’s almost impossible to imagine something like this happening in the U.S.. It’s hard enough to get Democrats and Republicans to sit amicably at a negotiating table, much less come together for a friendly competition.

In Sweden, things are apparently a bit different. Lundkvist believes that’s due to a commitment to mutual respect in the political debate.

“While debates can be heated,” he says, “opponents can usually get their points across without major insults at a person.”

You might expect this type of tournament to overrun with ringers, outsiders brought in at the last minute to give one side an unfair advantage. But only party members registered before the competition was announced are allowed to compete. That should prevent mercenaries from unfairly tipping the scales.

Most of the competitors are candidates for local government posts, like city councils, or prominent members of the parties' youth organizations.

“It would be difficult to get the big shots to play - not impossible, mind you, but difficult,” Lundkvist said.

This year’s biggest fish is Björn Söder, the party secretary of the Sweden Democrats.

“I think a major part of the tournament is also people not only wanting to see their favourite party win, but also parties they happen to dislike lose," Lundkvist said.

Lundkvist has set the tournament bracket up with this in mind, placing a number of parties with differing ideologies against each other in the first round of the tournament.

Opening the tournament is an expected bloodbath between the right-wing Sweden Democrats and their left-wing counterparts, Vänsterpartiet. The Pirate Party and Centre Party will follow, a battle for “integrity, anti-surveillance laws, and the like,” Lundkvist said. Moderaterna against the Social Democrats will be next, and the last tournament's champions, Folkpartiet, will close out the opening round against the Green Party.

The Pirate Party fills in for the Christian Democrats, who could not find a competitor for the event.

Sundin, the last tournament's champion, won’t be back to defend his title, and Lundkvist said there are no favorites this time around.

“The Social Democrats, the Sweden Democrats, the Pirate Party and the Left Party has all put forth pretty strong candidates,” he said. “My money is on one of them.”

Lundkvist hopes the tournament will serve as an example to both politicians and young voters alike.

“Voting is important, and we seem to forget that," he said. "It's part of why I created this: to show the politicians esports is a thing and to remind the youth that their votes matter. They should not waste it.”

H/T Onlinegamer.se | Image via Nicholas Raymond/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Today - 9:19 pm

Overwatch players honor friend with heartfelt send-off

The tribute was organized by a Philippines-based gaming collective.
Nicole Carpenter
Dot Esports
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Processing the death of a friend is never easy. But it can help to grieve where you spent time together—even if that happens to be the battlegrounds of Overwatch.

When the team at games website Too Much Gaming lost their beloved colleague Willem Den Toom, they took to Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch to express their pain. Using Toom's favorite Overwatch heroes—Pharah, Reinhardt, Symmetra, Zarya, and Lúcio—and Hanzo, the group of friends coordinated rocket launcher and fire strike sendoffs toward Overwatch map Eichenwalde's moon as a gun salute for their friend.

"Wherever you are, may the payload be always moving, the point always contested, no one trickles out, and may there always [be] a healer on your team," Toom's friends posted to YouTube. "We miss you, big guy. This Play of the Game is for you."

Toom suffered a heart attack and died at 35 on Jan. 16, Too Much Gaming editor Carlos Herdandez told Mic. "He was loved by many and his loss pretty much struck waves in various communities in the gaming community here in the Philippines," Hernandez said. "Overwatch was the one game that we play together regularly after a long day. It's one of his favorite games." Honoring Toom in Overwatch was an obvious choice for the group.

The video ends with each player sending off Hanzo's dragonstrike ultimate, unleashing a continuous stream of swirling dragons toward the moon.

H/t Mic

Today - 9:07 pm

After pre-season updates made the Jungle worse, Riot says ‘oops’ and promises to fix it

Riot’s dev team explains why the state of the jungle is so broken and how they plan on dealing with it.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

During the League of Legends pre-season, Riot made big changes to address some glaring issues within the Jungle. But it only made the situation worse.

In somewhat of a “My bad!” moment, Lead Champion Designer Andrei 'Meddler' van Roon explained what backfired with the jungler role. In his post, he comprehensively lists all of the reasons that the jungler might just be the most broken role in the game (sorry ADCs!).

The community has been complaining about the state of the jungler for a while now, but this is the first official answer we’ve seen from Riot on the matter. Riot said it very simply, and very directly in the Nexus post.

“We believe jungler influence over game outcome is too high.”

So what exactly is wrong with the jungler?

Impact

Perhaps the most significant issue with junglers before the pre-season was that farm-obsessed junglers became much too powerful. Monsters were too easy to kill relative to how great the rewards of gold and experience were. The dominant tactic for junglers became out-farming the enemy jungler, and whoever fell behind ended up hindering their team dramatically.

Back then, the rest of the team would attempt to help their jungler get ahead by getting an early kill on the enemy jungler, setting back their progress considerably. The team began to revolve around the jungler. This was a contradiction to how the jungler had been perceived in earlier seasons—as a supporting role designed to gank and help their teammates in lanes do well.

Riot wanted to fix that, so it lengthened spawn times on monster camps and made them harder to kill (but increased the rewards the camps give to compensate). The idea to push junglers to gank more than they farmed worked a little too well.

Not only are junglers ganking too much, but they also survive way too long. With new tools like the Honeyfruit plant and gaining health back with every smite, junglers just won’t die. They are able to farm more camps for more rewards and gank more lanes without losing enough health to warrant going back to base. This led to junglers gaining too much experience—with level advantages on lanes that they’ve never had before.

Game agency

The term “game agency” has been tossed around a lot lately. First, with the current feelings that ADCs are going through, and now, with junglers.

In a basic sense, the term “game agency” in this case is just another term for a role’s identity within the game. What purpose do they serve, and is it unique enough to feel important? The issue with ADCs right now is that they don’t feel important enough to the state of the game to have a unique identity (aside from being Lee Sin’s punching bag).

Junglers, however, have the opposite issue. Junglers and jungle champions have an identity, but it’s such a strong, outstanding identity that it overshadows the unique strengths and weaknesses of the other roles. They have too much raw power. It’s to the point that laners have become afraid of making moves on their lane opponents unless their jungler is preparing to gank, when normally they would only hold back if they knew they were outmatched.

This has something to do with the extreme rate at which junglers gank now, but combining that with the high sustainability, high damage items, and high level scaling makes for a frightening amount of power for one role to have.

Plans to reduce the overall power of the jungle have yet to be announced, but Riot did confirm that the plan is to knock the role down a few pegs.


So what can be done?

Well, Riot is taking responsibility for all the power it’s given the jungle role.

It is administering some short-term solutions, including lowering jungle experience rewards, cutting sustain across the board, and increasing the damage that jungle monsters deal.

Junglers won’t be able to live in the jungle for the first 10 minutes of the game without heading back to base, they won’t hit a huge power spike by leveling harder than laners can on jungle camps alone, and they won’t be able to gank quite as much.

These solutions likely aren’t the long-term solution. There will still be junglers that can clear the jungle faster, and we may just end up where we were before the pre-season—Farming Simulator: Jungle Edition. Farm-frenzy junglers could rise to the top, but luckily, it likely wouldn’t be quite as bad this time.

A long-term plan is in the works, and hopefully Riot maintains its clear and open communication as the situation progresses.