The New York Times takes on esports
As Riot Games plan to host their World Championship final in Seoul, South Korea at the 2002 World Cup Stadium in just a few weeks, the New York Times has taken a deep dive into the game and the esports surrounding it.
In part two of "Power Up," their series covering professional gaming, the Times attempts to dive into the complex mechanics of League of Legends. Pictures from Valve’s The International 4 graced the front page of the Sunday edition of the paper in August. The article covered the scale of the esports industry and the massive prize pool of $11 million, featured at the tournament in Seattle. The article was the most viewed item on nytimes.com for much of that Sunday says Dean Murphy, business editor at the Times.
This isn’t the first time the paper has explored esports. In September 2013, an article titled “Grooming the Champions of the Keyboard” spoke to the StarCraft 2 pros of team Evil Geniuses. In the esports community, the in-depth look into professional gaming and recognition by a major media outlet was a watershed moment for fans.
Murphy says there is a misconception that gaming is trivial as form of entertainment and as a business. The Times plans to dispel the misconception in their “Power Up” series.
"Our coverage sets out to explain why that is not so," he said, "using data, real people, and telling anecdotes to shed light on this multi-billion-dollar industry."
Riot Games, the creator of the most popular esport, League of Legends, is the focus of the latest article in the series. Marc Merill and Brandon Beck, who founded the company in 2006, spoke about the beginnings of game development. Beck recounts the time he showed a video at a company meeting of a player manipulating the mechanics of the game in ways the creators didn’t intend, leaving everyone awestruck.
Joedat “Voyboy” Estefani, mid laner for Team Curse, spoke on the mechanics of League of Legends.
"The best teams are the ones that are constantly evolving along with the game," he said.
The article also explains the business aspect of esports, noting that the League Championship Series loses money but is great for attracting new fans. The Times compared what LeBron James did for basketball to what professional gamers do for League of Legends.
They took their esports coverage a step further, explaining how a typical League of Legends match works. Multiple videos showing the movement from 10,000 matches accompanied by explanations of major gameplay concepts and player roles create a basic understanding of the game for someone less familiar with multiplayer online battleground arenas.
As esports continues to move into the mainstream, more media outlets will need to tackle the complexities of esports in a way their readers can understand. So far, the “Power Up” series is a great start.
Screengrab via LoL Esports/YouTube