Saturday, 26 November 2011

Taking off the Kiddy Gloves

I woke up this morning to some interesting logs in the ESFI Skype chat.  You know when you get that feeling that the world is sort of revolving around you... For example, on the bus, yesterday, I was thinking about the frustration I feel towards esports and how much of that comes from the coverage.  Today, I woke up and found that some of the ESFI staff had been discussing something integral to that: are we too nice?

To anyone that's read this blog before, you'll immediately assume that my answer is yes.  Well, screw you, smartass.  But the reason you're right is because I almost feel like I have to overcompensate for the lack of introspection in the community at large.  Contrary to appearances, I don't actually hate everything, but I don't feel like anyone else is asking questions of people like MLG (why do Boxer's travel expenses cost more than the first prize at an MLG tournament?)

Every sport has its sacred cows, but esports seems like it has an inordinate amount.  More than once I've been "told off" for criticising commentators.  To be fair, I do write about them an awful lot, but "who are you to criticize Apollo?" speaks volumes about people's attitude towards these guys.  God forbid I ever slate Day9 or Tastosis (oh, wait...).  These people are placed on a pedestal and deemed untouchable by the masses.  Yet, actually, they're largely the best of a bad bunch.  I think that phrase could honestly be applied to a raft of things in esports.

People seem to tolerate and even celebrate medicority in esports.  A large part of esports is made up as we go along and so it's expected that things aren't perfect, I understand that.  But does that mean we should just accept that this is the way it will always be?  Should we accept commentators yelling incoherently because they lack the vocabulary to say something interesting?  Should we accept horrible tournament formats because, well... MLG wants to make sure the fan favourites make it to the final day, I guess?  Esports is constantly evolving and improving, but without criticism and questioning, that evolution will grind to a halt.

There has to be a middle ground between my cynical whinging and everyone else's head-burying.  What frustrates me even more is that I know that people are aware of these problems.  I'm not some kind of prophet who sees flaws that others don't, it's just that I'm one of the few who are too stupid/honest to ignore them.  I hate to sound so full of myself - there are others, like Keeker and Marc Onforio - but the dissenting voices are strictly limited to personal blogs like ours.

If you're not convinced, go back and look at Midway's interview with ESFI.  His biggest regret about GotFrag (an absolutely perfect example of my 'best of a bad bunch' theory, by the way) was that they didn't go after CPL when they started shafting people.  If there was another league doing similarly shady things, would anyone step up, or would the mistakes of history be repeated?  I look at the position MLG is currently in, and I wonder who would dare to risk being banned from their events if it came to it.


  1. here are my thoughts:

    first, the "fluff piece" about my old bw friends was probably the first looks at psychology in esports. even if it was just a cursory glance, looking at things such as clinical depression, the nature of celebrity, the emotional and physical toll taken on top players is a pretty good thing for a writer to be doing. please, find me another puff piece that tries to explain clinical depression to its readers. if you can, you're probably not looking at a puff piece.

    second, what i do brings value to the scene. i'm not doing investigative journalism at the moment, granted, but if that's the only form of journalism to which you assign any value, i think you are misguided. yes, it is important that that exists (and it doesnt) but im not doing it. i work for mlg, it means i certainly have limits as to what i can say or do and, as a new face at mlg, im exploring those limits as best i can. it doesnt mean that what i do doesnt provide value.

    third, telling stories is important. i guess to some extent i wrote a story about my old bw buddies (they are not my buddies) but im playing the role of historian which, imo, has value.

    alright, enough of the personal defense.

    i agree that dissent is extremely limited in scope in esports. i agree that we need independent media and i would say we needed it in a bigger, badder way than esfi can currently provide. again, i work for mlg right now. for better or worse, that is the fact and as such i will not be independent media as long as i work for mlg. is that a bad thing? i think i'm raising the bar for content output at mlg, i think im doing my best to give them some good ideas and i think i can provide a bridge from independent ideas to mlg brains. but no matter what, during my time here, i will not be truly independent. it's the nature of the beast.

    that said, i criticize mlg on MLGtv practically on a daily basis.

    i mean hey, i agree with almost everything you said. we need more independence. we need critical voices. but (and here comes the last of the personal defense, i promise) i'm in a unique situation here and im doing my best. i don't think i've rolled over at all and my "fluff piece", if you ask me, was not a wasted effort.

    i will admit that i am too nice too often in written pieces. i'm working on it!

  2. Edited out the part you were talking about because, yes, it was very unfair of me.