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» Esports and Command & Conquer

First of all, for the uninitiated ones amongst us, 'Esports' is the collective term used to describe the playing of videogames at a competitive level, in a similar way to conventional sports. But can Esports and C&C integrate? Or will C&C always be regarded as the genre which never quite made it into the leagues of professional gaming? If it is to make a break into this unknown within the relatively near future, then it is likely to come as a result of the ever looming release of C&C Generals. The Esports community is a growing one, spawning new tournaments and organisations by the very day. Just how many of us are familiar with the Cyberathlete Professional League for example? This organisation, arguably leading the way forwards in Esports, has been established to make Esports a viable entertainment option to the masses. The tournaments that it now runs have prize funds of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The CPL founder, Angel Munoz, can be quoted as saying "RTS games may be at the next CPL". He gave no mention to any game in particular, however there are only a select few which have the popularity to be amongst the chosen ones. Games such as Warcraft III, Starcraft and Age of Empires are currently the popular RTS games in terms of professional competition - as is shown quite clearly by their upcoming appearances in the World Cyber Games 2002 Tournament. RTS has already made progress though - Korean Starcraft gamers are amongst those leading the way. In Korea, top gamers are stars and can earn quite amiable salaries from playing in professional tournaments and from securing endorsements with various companies.

I bet you thought you were clever when you won that free calendar, didn't you? These guys just won $25,000.
However, it's more difficult for RTS games (rather than First Person Shooter games) to be viable spectator sports, as there is a distinct lack of action at quite a few points in the game. For example, bases must be established along with economies - whereas in FPS games there is always some action going on. Basically, real time strategy games take a while to get 'warmed up'. The FPS genre also has a broader appeal, due to it's superior graphical action where FPS player models can be textured to perfection with many thousands of polygons, whereas many RTS games use basic 2D images that aren't exactly candy to one's eye. Even the most recent RTS games, with all their 3D splendour (Warcraft III instantly comes to mind), still do not match the visual beauty of many popular FPS games. A game must have a certain degree of graphical goodness in order for it to become popular; its images must captivate the viewer in its own unique way. It's just like with real life, we are (usually) naturally attracted to what we deem the prettiest, hence many a teenage boy drools over the likes of Anna Kournikova, rather than Anne Robinson or Chér. Image is of great importance, a problem which RTS games have always had to compete with against the likes of the FPS genre.

I'm quite sure that there's an 'RTS void' waiting to be filled on big Esport sites such as ShackES and SoGamed. Coverage on these immensely popular sites would do games like Generals the world of good - creating many new tributaries from which to add more 'fish to the pond'. Another relevant issue is the comparitive state of the C&C community and your average FPS community. Yes, we at may well have had over 675,000 visits, but, to give a sterling example, CSNation, the most popular Counter-Strike fan-site, gets that kind of traffic two times over whenever a update to the game is released. However, the C&C community is far bigger than it used to be, despite C&C Renegade not having as big an impact as was expected. The interest the community now generates, along with the fans now loyally following the three timelines, is much greater than what it was nearly two years ago when I first has my first taste of the Community. As C&C and the community which surrounds it is showing no signs of slowdown, I would expect C&C to eventually break through into more 'mainstream' gaming and be more widely accepted amongst gamers, other than the current hardcore C&C fans themselves.

Now, I bet you've all got the same question on the tip of your tongue - "When can I watch F1reburn defeat Rob in a game of Generals on T.V?". Well, I'm not quite sure, given that I never even managed to beat Rob at Red Alert II. A more relevant and realistic question is: "Will Generals introduce C&C to Esports and professional gaming leagues?". Personally, I think it's one game too soon and that question is best asked of the as yet 'unannounced project' currently being worked on at Westwood Studios. However, that's not to say that Generals won't make a cameo appearance at the 2003 Summer CPL Championship or become popular in various gaming leagues. Hopefully, we will one day see the legends of C&C battling it out, in the flesh, for considerable wads of cash. Esports is the area where C&C has always being lacking, where it never quite made it. Hopefully Generals will be the correct catalyst to create a truer community - not one where people merely class knowing each other as chatting in the community chat room or emailing one another. Should Generals make it on the big-stage, the tournaments and events that it would be featured in would help to bolster the size of the community and help to create new friendships. Of course, if it doesn't make it, you can always look forward to winning a free mouse-mat if you finish in the top fifty.

Related Links:
» The CPL
» World Cyber Games

» Paul

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