Wednesday, 26 October 2011

That Which we Call a Journalist...

...probably wouldn't smell very sweet since we're all nerds.

My fellow ESFI writer, Ted Ottey posted a column about the question of whether or not journalists exist inside esports.  I've been around long enough to see plenty of these articles (and write one or two myself) and opinions change alongside perception over time, but I'm inclined to think that we have largely missed the point.

Whatever way you choose to define "journalist" it's clear that the standards in esports are much lower than in other sports.  That goes for pretty much everything in esports, but journalism is especially vulnerable because it has generally been volunteer work, done by those who love the game.  Precious few stick around for more than a couple of years, and the reason is simple: the rewards aren't there.  It was another ESFI writer, Derek Staley, who hit the nail on the head with this one.  There are a handful of talented writers (and a large percentage of them write for ESFI) but they have no real reason to write except when they feel the need to.

My own most productive period was definitely at SK - the one time in my esports career where I was paid for my work.  There was a bit more to it than that, but the reality is that one simply cannot devote too much time to something that offers so little reward.  It's no surprise that so many esports writers (or journalists, whatever you prefer) are harsh on commentators: yes, a lot of them are fucking awful, but they also get paid for being awful.  The best esports writers in the business - at least outside of Korea - earn little-to-nothing.

Back to the topic; I think there are journalists out there but people treat that title with too much prestige.  They seem to confuse it with Investigative Journalism, of which there is a real lack.  But investigative journalism is something that relies even more on funding because it requires a lot more effort.  What came up in the twitter conversation about Ted's article is that in Korea things are a bit different... but, actually, they're very much the same.

Orangemilkis put forward the idea that Korean journalists are the real deal, but the evidence he presented didn't really support that idea.  They suffer from another of the problems that faces the West too, one that has plagued journalism since it first began.  Korean journalists are very close to the teams, which means they get the stories quickly, but this obviously makes for a massive conflict of interest.  How can you be expected to neutrally judge people who are relatively close friends? (Orange cited journalists going on holiday with teams).  Obviously that is a rhetorical question, and I'm sure many of us would love the opportunity to go on holiday with pro gamers.

But the flip side of that coin is that we can't expect to be kept in the know if we write negatively.  Imagine a situation where EG is running out of money and needs to cut some of its stars.  If ESFI broke that news before EG could spin it, they would likely never allow us to interview their players again.  In Korea, it seems the only difference is that the journalists are even more personally invested in this situation, since they literally profit from it.  Is that a fair price to pay for being a bit quicker with news than their Western counterparts?  That one's not so rhetorical and I'll leave it alone for now, but I lean towards "not really."

After that slightly meandering post, the point is that we have plenty of journalists of varying quality.  What we don't have are investigative journalists, and neither does Korea, apparently.  The risks are currently far greater than the rewards, and will remain so until someone works out a way to better monetise esports coverage.  The sad fact is that the press currently needs the teams a lot more than they need us.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sandwich of Happiness

A lot of my post on here are bitter, cynical and/or twisted.  To try and redress the balance and bring a little joy to the world, I thought I'd give the much-loved "Sandwich Method" a try.  For the uninducted, the idea is that you offer a compliment, then criticism in the middle, followed by another compliment - compliments being the bread, as it were.  So, lets give it a try, shall we?  I'll start with a list of things i don't like, and try to come up with good points to counteract all the negativity.


Good: Is named after a very obscure character in the Discwold novels
Bad: Is a very bad commentator who has practically no redeeming features as a figurehead in esports.
Good: Is unable to enter American soil, meaning he is effectively barred from 75% of major tournaments.

SK Gaming
Good: Has had some of the most successful esports teams in history.
Bad: Pretty much everything else.
Good: The coat they gave me at IEM 2010 is very warm.

Good: Puts on SC2 tournaments for fans to enjoy.
Bad: Pretty much everything else.
Good: Their stream adverts are a bit less annoying than they used to be.

Good: Know a lot about Starcraft
Bad: Talk an awful load of bollocks during GSL matches
Good: Erm... they like animals?

Ah, I can just feel my soul getting lighter already.  Is that a rainbow outside?  Not likely, since it's 21:40 in the middle of October, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Rounding up the Round-of-Eight

The GSL is probably the world's premiere SC2 tournament in terms of raw skill.  This season's round-of-eight taught us a lot about the current meta game, so instead of bitching about commentators and slagging of MLG, I decided to get back to some coverage writing.


Tuesday's matches taught us some fascinating lessons.  We found out that Tastless likes Lions more than Tigers and that he twisted his ankle a couple of weeks ago.  In the second match of the day we learned that Artosis doesn't really like chocolate.  Also, some marines got built.

Today we saw an incredible series which taught us an important SC2 lesson: Dark Side Jedis always have red light sabres.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to learn what Doa and Moletrap had for breakfast, but we were treated to that on the first day of IPL and not every game can be super exciting.

Seriously, does anyone from GomTV actually listen to Tastosis' commentary?  Or is that just normal?  Are the tourrettes-suffering Korean commentators actually yelling at the top of their voices about what kind of candy they like best and how hard it is to buy Doritos?  As a disclaimer, I generally enjoy Doa's commentary, and he is much less prone to talking irrelevant nonsense than Tasteless and Artosis.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Charity Starts at Home... BoxeR's Home

Following a little bit of back-and-forth between Sundance and Richard Lewis on Twitter tonight, I feel the urge to post on the subject of charity.  For those who missed it, Sundance was asking Twitter followers for charities in order to partner them with MLG.  It's pretty easy for a cynic like Lewis (and, frankly, myself) to wonder why he didn't just do some private research.  Whatever.

But what people don't know is that MLG already donates to a charity.  It's a little known Korean-based charity for past-his-prime SC2 player, BoxeR.  The Brood War legend has given up on his dream of winning prize money in SC2, but MLG has set up a unique charity fund to make sure that he won't fall into poverty.  They graciously donated around $22,000 USD, allowing him to fly to America and compete in an upcoming MLG tournament, all with the luxury of a hotel suite and a $500 a day allowance.

Lets not forget, the prize money for finishing first at an MLG SC2 tournament is $5,000 so that 22k is no small contribution.  It's good to see that despite MLG's burgeoning success they still have their priorities right.