Thursday, 26 April 2012

Dying of Exposure (the SC2 cancer in me)

Hey, it's been a while - almost a month, in fact.

I did go on holiday for a week, but mostly i've given up trying to make myself like SC2.  Not the game itself, you understand, but the itinerary.  I decided to break my silence in order to discuss why i've become so disaffected by the whole thing, so be warned: i'll try to keep the whining to a minimum, but there will likely be some.

When Strarcraft II beta came along and essentially killed-off Warcraft III, i was fairly ambivilent.  WC3 was and still is my favourite esports game of all time, albeit through some heavily rose-tinted glasses now, but SC2 represented a fresh new dawn and a way of uniting esports fans.  Largely, it has lived up to the hype.  From the very beginning it seemed like everyone stepped up a gear and the whole thing became a self-fulfilling prophecy, with tournament organisers and content-creators trying to keep up with and outdo one another.  The sheer amount of content - visual, textual and audio - dwarfed into insignificange that of communities i'd been involved in previously.

It was fantastic in the true sense of the word - almost impossible to take in.  In the beginning, i found myself with tournament streams on in the background almost daily and being disappointed when i couldn't find at least a Zotac or Go4 to listen to while i did other things.  Then GSL started up and my problems were solved.  It's kind of ironic that after years of bad sleeping caused by computer addiction, an esports league actually had me getting up at a reasonable hour to watch MC's nexus-cancels and Nestea's miraculous comebacks.

It seemed like it was too good to be true, but like some genie-filled fairy tale, the moral was that you should be careful what you wish for.  Watching every game every day soon became listening to them in the background while i played WoW and then noticing that, actually, the commentators are mostly terrible and just yell "ohhhhh!" a lot.

Honestly, that's when the cancer began, but it took a long time to become malignant.  People talk about an inner circle jerk in esports nowadays.  I'm fully behind that idea.  SC2 improved a great many things, but at the price of turning the vast majority of the community into sycophantic acolytes of a few, largely undeserving, people.  To slaughter all of SC2's sacred cows would take far too long for a reasonable length blog, but you can probably name most of them if you try hard enough.

As a postmodern man, i realise that at least part of my problem here is undoubtedly jealousy, so perhaps we should move on.

The fact is that the SC2 scene really has felt more and more like a cancer to me for the past few months.  There is so much i hate about it - real, genuine hate - that it's gotten harder and harder to enjoy the good bits.  Originally, this blog was going to be some kind of list of the things i dislike, explained bit-by-bit, but i realised it would take too long and wouldn't really help anything.  Besides, anyone who reads this blog regularly will probably know what most of them are.

So, instead, i've tried to back away from SC2 altogether.  The physical part has been surprisingly easy.  One of SC2's biggest problems is definitely overexposure.  I haven't properly watched an SC2 tournament in months and i realised that i don't even miss it very much.  I didn't force myself, it just sort of happened.  As much as i dislike MLG, their payperview model has actually been pretty beneficial for me: can't watch, won't watch.  I still feel a pang in my stomach when, for example, ESFI is covered with MLG coverage and only a few snippets of Dreamhack, but i suspect that will never go away.

Where am i going with all this?  Good question.  I guess it helps to explain why my content output since i left SK has been so minimal.  I have felt more and more smothered by the Starcraft II community.  It's largely in my head, i realise that, but when all i want to do is slate beloved public figures, it's probably best for my health if i keep it away from caster-worshipping forum commentators.  That part is pretty easy, since they won't look much further than the TL forums (if that sounds bitter, well, yep).  I don't intend to stop writing about esports - on the contrary, i applied for a job with Cadred (please vote for me, by the way).  I will probably even write about SC2 again in the future, but i need to break it down into smaller pieces so i can find the good parts again.

Sorry if this blog reads a bit schizophrenically, but it's quite appropriate.  My issues with writing about SC2 feel so massive and hard to truly grasp that a rambling, stream-of-conciousness piece with little or no direction is somewhat cathartic.  Maybe i should've just gone with the list method after all.