When we first discussed the Big Project for the course, my mind went in a couple directions. I’ll be honest, most of the writing I’ve done for previous classes has focused on “sad” things. And to me, that’s fine – I’ve actually (I think anyways) become quite good at pathos. So my first instinct was to focus on death in some form or another – (I have my own personal reasons for this, but that would be a post in and of itself).
But when RayRay started talking about personal interests, and working around something we maybe haven’t been able to focus on as much as we’d have liked during undergrad, I started to shift focus a bit. I’ll get it out right now: I’m a big, nerdy World of Warcraft gamer. It’s not something the always comes up in conversation, but it’s a big part of my life. To an “outsider” (if you want to call it that), saying a game is a big part of my life might sound incredibly weird. And, admittedly, that’s an understandable reaction. But that’s also part of where my mind began to head during our discussion of this project. I wanted a way to somehow get across just how influential something as seemingly silly as an online game has been on my life.
There’s quite a bit more to it than I can easily get into here, but to give you an idea, I’ve been playing this game with the same group of people for years now. People from all over the country, sometimes world, have been part of my online social experience. I’ve been able to talk with people from Singapore, Bermuda, Australia, England, that weird country above us… the list goes on. These people aren’t just “gamer friends,” they’re people I’ve been able to talk with over familial, social, school, and really any time of personal problem in my life. They’re people I spend six or more hours a week with playing, shooting the shit, and getting drunk with. I have friends in New York, Chicago, Florida, California, and elsewhere all willing to let me stay at their place if I ever decide to visit the area.
What I’m getting at is this: these are real people and real social experiences. They happen from the comfort of my computer monitor, but – despite the insistence to the contrary by my parents during my teenage years – this is a real, personal group of friends and this experience, to me, holds just as much weight as any other social experience.
…So all that is one aspect of what I’m considering trying to tackle in this project. I know for a fact it’s not singular to me – people have met through World of Warcraft and happily married! – but it will also be difficult to keep it unbiased.
Alllllllll that being said, there was a second approach I wanted to take, and since I’ve talked a lot already, I’ll try to keep it short. This second approach came to my mind when Pikachu mentioned practicality.
It’s probably not known to many, but among the gaming community – (not necessarily World of Warcraft, but other games like League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Starcraft 2) – are all becoming part of a growing movement toward “eSports.” eSports are exactly what you think they are. Matches, events, etc. all rivaling athletic sports in fervor, dedication, and audience appeal, but instead played out online. They’ve grown tremendously over the years and to give you an idea of the magnitude, I want to direct you to two figures:
1.) This picture of the League of Legends world championship over the past 4 years : http://i.imgur.com/KxjQWWi.jpg
and 2.) The fact that the most recent tournament drew 27 million viewers and surpassed Game 7 of the World Series in viewership.
Couple this growth with the fact that colleges are now offering scholarships to eSports teams AND the fact that the first ever Sports Visa was issued to a South Korean Starcraft 2 player in order that he might participate in a tournament in the States and you’ve got real monetary value behind these games.
Okay, so that’s where I’m at. I talked a lot more than I thought, but I can’t decide if I want to do one or both of these as my primary focus. I’m fascinated with the growth of eSports, but it also lacks the humanistic side to a story I’m more familiar with. Hope you all learned at least a few fun facts from this post!