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Is Gaming Really a Spectator Sport? 105

njkid1 passed us a link to a GameDaily article on the upcoming DirecTV Championship Game series. There's big prize money at stake, dozens of teams are flocking to the banner of the event, and promoters are talking the event up as something that can't be missed. All of this begs the question: Is competitive gaming a spectator sport? Is the culture of videogaming conducive to mass-market entertainment? Will Counter-Strike matches draw enough of a crowd to maintain advertiser interest at future events? What's your read on this new entry into American gamer culture?
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Is Gaming Really a Spectator Sport?

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  • I don't know how big the market is, but I'd watch stuff like this. It would be nice if you could watch some pros and learn from how they play.
    • This is one of the reasons that I enjoy HLTV so much; You can record games and watch them at a later date from the perspective of any player in the game. Not only can it be enjoyable and educational, it can also be used to help verify if someone was cheating.

      When I was in a TFC clan we would always have recordings of all our matches. A day or two after each match we would get a half dozen or so people together, put the demo up on HLTV, and we'd all watch it and figure out what to do better next time.
      • by Pxtl ( 151020 )
        I have to say, team-games that concentrate the action in a few spots would be the best - like VehicleCTF in UT, or TFC (as you suggested). The problem is keeping the action in view of the audience - a wide-ranging Domination-style game means action is happening everywhere at once. Sniper combat causes similar problems 'cause it's hard to show who shot who and whatnot. Probably UT's Assault and Bomb-run gametypes would be ideal for televised teamgames because the action is generally (by necessity) in one
    • It would depend on the game. I have no interest in watching some WoW player farm Yeti's, but a game like America's Army could be very fun to watch, I would think. Would have to be done just right though. A game made specifically to be a spectator sport could be very interesting.
      • I agree, killing tons of boars in the woods would be no fun to watch.

        Starcraft? Awesome. FPS-es? Sweet...

        In fact, isn't that UT's whole deal? Reality show as deathmatch, like a modern day Roman coliseum?
      • It would also be interesting if the spectators could have some effect on the game as it was in progress as well; Nothing huge, but if you could make it (optionally) interactive then it might have even more appeal. Changes in terrain, game physics, even something simple like choosing what map will be played.
      • Re:I'd watch it... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:45PM (#17939690) Homepage
        Not just the game but I think it would also depend on the editing. If you consider a typical FPS match there's lots of things happening at once. How is that presented to the spectators? do we get the same First person tunnel visions that the gamers get, are there fixed cameras that we view?

        IMO if you want it to work right you have to take a look at the level design and ensure you can capture all of it and still see the action that's going on. I also think you need to have dedicated "camera men" that can go anywhere to help capture the action with an editor dictating which action to follow. I also think they need to put small Picture in Picture windows of the players faces so we can see their facial and body language. And theres no reason we can't have slow motion replays as well as commentary by people who understand the tactics, strategies, and the background of the players other notable games and records.

        I think to get a feel for it a few games would have to be recorded with some time spent editing it for spectator consumption, and once they start to understand what works and what doesn't they try it live.

        Some genres would work better then others, racing games for instance would be much easier to show considering it's a real life sport and they can use the same techniques used for showing the sport in real life. Most single player or turn based games would be fairly simple, as well as fighters and other games where the players share a single screen. but IMO stuff like MMOs, RTSs, Shooters, or anything where the players have their own display would take some getting used to before it would be something easily shown on TV.

        The problem I've seen is that in prior attempts the producers and editors weren't gamers so they weren't really showing what people were interested in seeing. They'd show the peoples faces, or a close up of the controller, or a quick clip of the players screen and it was more of a nonsensical collage then anything else. The in game action is the most important, but you need to see a good overview, you need to see what all the different players are doing at the same time. the players faces are secondary, you need to see the person behind the on screen character but it shouldn't detract from the on screen action, just give a small view into the emotions their going through, a determined look, a look of disbelief when they die, or excitement when they score a point etc.
        • I also think you need to have dedicated "camera men" that can go anywhere to help capture the action with an editor dictating which action to follow.

          This reminds me of the spectator mode you get dropped into when you die in Counter-Strike, and does not strike me as being all that hard to incorporate from a design standpoint. Now imagine if this mode not only allowed you to 'follow so-and-so', but take control of an aerial 'ghost drone' (thanks, GRAW) so you could get those overviews of key areas of the ma

          • There's a ton of FPS games that have free-floating spectator options. Just get a couple of guys, train 'em up so they know the levels and the type of action they'll be encountering, and bam, you've got your main views. Everything after that is bonus, you just need a director organizing things who knows what he's doing.
  • is any sport? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:07PM (#17939046) Homepage
    I don't really watch any sport, I find it rather boring to watch.
    Sport is something you should do, right? Well if not, then sure, gaming is a spectator sport. Some will like it, other won't.
    • by Kelbear ( 870538 )
      Sports are not as accessible as gaming. I can hop on my computer, jump into a game and enjoy it, not all that much more involved than turning on a feed to watch someone else play. If I wanted to go out and play baseball at 1am, I'd need a field, and 2 teams. Watching this sport is my next best thing unless I want to get myself into local baseball league(probably between local businesses).

      Watching gaming might be nice, but actually gaming is better.

      And WOW, I just had a mental of image of someone watching so
    • Any sport can be a spectator sport, if it's announced, covered and presented correctly.

  • Golden Tee golf has been on espn!
  • Really, how different is this from traditional sports? You're watching people compete in a game you enjoy who are better than you are, and that makes it exciting. As to if it has a mass-market appeal, that is harder to say. There are a lot of video games out there as compared to how many different professional sports there are, so it has to come down to a few popular games to get mass penetration.

    Keep in mind many professional sports have rules tailored to make the game exciting for fans. I totally expe
    • The difference is that generally speaking you can just as easily have fun playing computer games as you can have watching them. The same isn't necessarily true of a sport. For instance for many traditional sports you need the right equipment, you need space to play it, you need a number of people available if it's a team sport, depending on the sport you might need to be fit or at least not tired, and of course maybe the sport is rough and you're a bit of a pussy.

      None of those things generally apply to game
    • It seems that it would be more exciting to watch skilled quake players than to watch a baseball game. But maybe that's just my opinion. I never understood how baseball got so popular as a spectator sport. Even with playing you spend half the time sitting on the bench.
    • How different? Very different.

      Video games are much faster than sports with much more action going on, often simultaneously in widely separate areas. It's not as simple as bunch of guys chasing a single ball. Real coverage is much, much more difficult, and getting an overview of the whole game can be almost impossible. There are no time outs and no knowing where to look next. Properly covering a video game that doesn't mimic a real-world sport would require post game analysis and judiciously highlighting the
  • Presentation ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HappySqurriel ( 1010623 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:11PM (#17939116)
    Honestly, I think presentation matters far more than most people would ever let on ...

    If you only looked at the XFL you'd probably assume that there was no market for professional football in North America ...

    I think (know) you could make 'professional' videogame playing a spectator event but the important part is that the type of game you play must be understandable by the majority of people who have very limited understanding of games, must be fair, and must remain fast paced. I could be wrong, but I suspect that if Blizzard had the option that a person could be a spectator to the Battlegrounds you would see quite a few people watching for reasons other than cheating/
    • I think you are right, and I think there is another aspect involved, the social aspect. This is one reason that any new sport will have a tough time attracting an audience. As the audience itself is part of the draw, if you don't have one, you'll have a tough time getting one. Watching sports gives you something to talk about. Watching sports with friends is a fun social bonding experience. Going to a game gives people that comforting "I'm an accepted part of the herd" feeling.
    • by Sciros ( 986030 )
      WRT your mention of Blizzard and Battlegrounds, ArenaNet's Guild Wars has an "Observer" mode which lets people watch high-level guilds compete in PVP (with a 15-minute delay to prevent cheating). It's been well-received and many watch it in order to learn strategy, builds, etc. In general competitive gaming has quite a following, and televised competition, if properly marketed, can accumulate a sizeable audience. Even games like Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN) have big and impressive competitions nowadays, l
    • You forget a few important aspects. The entire field of play must be visible to everyone at all times. Relative distances cannot be so large that you have trouble showing the relationship to other players. Lastly and maybe most importantly, gamers must look impressive not just be impressive.

      Imagine a sport where you don't see the skills at work. For instance, an FPS player would need to be visibly distinguishable from a moving turret with auto-aim. Sure his reflexes might be impressive, but the game doesn't
    • I think the experience of filming sports can certainly be applied to presenting gaming as a spectator sport. The major benefit of filming computer games over ordinary sports, however, which hasn't yet been adequately exploited, is that you can place the camera anywhere. We should be seeing insane camera moves, rapid-fire cutting and unique perspectives. In first person shooters, simply following a single player from an over the shoulder perspective or seeing a single player's first-person perspective doe
  • My humble opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by east coast ( 590680 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:16PM (#17939200)
    I don't know if it's as much a question of if a game of any type is a spectator sport but more of if the type of person interested in a certain of game is a spectator.

    From my experience, I'm not a spectator. Not to say I can't appreciate a good play/move in a sporting/gaming event but the idea of actually watching an entire game doesn't do the trick for me.

    Beyond video gaming I've also played paintball and skateboarded for several years. I can't stand to watch either of these. I don't think it has to do with the watchability of the game/sport but rather my ability to watch and not do.

    Oddly enough these activities have low draws in TV ratings. Maybe the type of person who skates, plays paintball or plays video games just isn't the same type of person to sit down with a sixer of Bud Light and scream at a TV set.
  • by objwiz ( 166131 ) <objwiz @ y a h o o . com> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:16PM (#17939208)
    There's spectaters for about anything. And sponsors will follow.

    People watch bowling. Pool. Pro Paintball. Once late at night I caught a demolition style "race" of trucks pulling campers (the drivers had sponsors).

    It doesn't really take much of an audience to get sponsors. The key to lining them up is for the event organizers to make it clear to the sponsors who will be seeing their ads. If the spectaters interests and the sponsors are in agreement, then the deal works. I'd bet one could find sponsors for snail racing because there will be someone watching.

    So I see no reason why computer games can't be either.
    • There's spectaters for about anything. And sponsors will follow.

      People watch bowling. Pool. Pro Paintball. Once late at night I caught a demolition style "race" of trucks pulling campers (the drivers had sponsors).

      It doesn't really take much of an audience to get sponsors. The key to lining them up is for the event organizers to make it clear to the sponsors who will be seeing their ads. If the spectaters interests and the sponsors are in agreement, then the deal works. I'd bet one could find sponsors for s

      • I believe some Magic the Gathering Championship was on one of the ESPN channels last year. I can't imagine that being particularly interesting to many people (then again, I'm not a fan of the game). If Magic can make its way on TV, then certainly some heated matches of Starcraft or Counter-Strike could ...

        I wish they had it on real TV more often. It's fascinating to watch the pros play. They do so many things you wouldn't even think of and come up with many interesting decks you wouldn't have believed com
    • I agree. I personally wouldn't watch it on TV very often because gaming is something I can actually do, and watching people game is usually pretty boring, but there's definitely an audience for it. My first thought when I saw poker on TV was that it was boring as hell, but I actually have ended up watching quite a bit of it and have gotten pretty interested in poker. Other things like bowling/paintball/darts are very little fun to watch, and a lot of fun to play, so I definitely don't watch that.

      I play

  • No (Score:1, Troll)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 )
    It's not.

    We can argue semantics all day long, but any activity you can perform just as well in with a rigourous training regimen of cheez-its and mountain dew, is not a sport in any way, shape or form.

    PS2 is not a sport, bowling is not a sport, and golf is not a sport.

    Only the lamest of the lame want to watch some guy play video games.
    • From the wikipedia, of course....The entry for "sport":

      Sport is an activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively. Used by itself, sports commonly refer to activities where the physical capabilities of the competitor are the sole or primary determiner of the outcome (winning or losing), but the term is also used to include activities such as mind sports and motor sports where mental acuity or equipment quality are major factors.

      • One should think about who posts on Wikipedia before you proffer it's information as "proof." Though I admit wikipedia is a good substitute for crack.
        • One should think about who posts on Wikipedia before you proffer it's information as "proof." Though I admit wikipedia is a good substitute for crack.

          Actually, considering the number of linkings here to Wikipedia, [] I was just picking the most commonly seen reference. But just to make you happy, I'll be delighted to quote from the Merriam-Webster [] website.

          Main Entry: sport Function: noun
          1 a : a source of diversion

          ...and in other news, the popcorn you're eating has been pissed in. Film at 11.

      • Wikipedia was created and is maintained by nerds, so there's obviously going to be a slant there.

        I don't think gaming as a spectator sport will really take off anywhere outside of Korea. There's not much else to watch there other than minor league baseball, so there was a massive void to fill. In the west there are all sorts of real sports that are already massively popular.
    • Based on your two on-topic posts in this thread, you seem to value nothing about an athlete except for how rigorous their training regimen is. By this logic a body builder is an amazing athlete, and some midwestern kid who got strong working on the family farm and just happens to be amazing as a high-school quarterback hardly rates. A sport requires both physical and mental skill, for example look at fencing. A fencer has to train hard, and a professional fencer is, pound for pound, stronger than a linebac
    • by u8i9o0 ( 1057154 )
      I'm guessing you've never made the distinction between the words 'athletics' and 'sport'.

      For example:
      Target rifle shooting may not be athletic, but I can definitely see the sport in it.
      Doing laps around an outdoor track strictly for exercise may be athletic, but there's no sport in it.

      Apply competition to any voluntary activity and it can become a sport. The competition can even be against yourself or time, and not necessarily against another person.

      Make it involuntary, and that competition may lose it's '
    • PS2 is not a sport, bowling is not a sport, and golf is not a sport.

      Are you going to be saying that boxing, tennis, and baseball aren't sports either? I will have to disagrii. Or are you like people's conception of Ernest Hemingway, to whom a quotation is often attributed [] that mountain climbing, bullfighting, and motor racing are the only sports?

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:20PM (#17939254) Homepage
    ... do you know how annoying it is to have someone looking over your shoulder offering advice you don't need or criticizing your every move? :)
  • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:21PM (#17939270) Homepage
    PBS, I think, ran a documentary recently that explored the South Korean video game competition phenomenom.

    What they kinda found is that you need to know the rules and nuances of the game to appreciate watching it.

    If you don't know that, you can't appreciate what's happening before your eyes.

    I'm a big sports fan and while I know the rules of practically any competition sport enough to understand what's going on, I have no clue about the finer points of the sports apart from the few sports I watch frequently. The sports I don't know enough about I don't really enjoy watching especially if I'm with someone who does know the finer points. The whole experience just goes right above my head while my friend is hollering about some magical play that just happened.

    The same applies to watching video games. I'm a relatively good racing game player and I most definitely enjoy watching the great racers compete against each other, because I "get" how they race so fast. I'm not very good at Halo 2, and I just can't get into watching competitive Halo 2 matches, because I just don't see what's so great about the performance of some of the top players.
  • I think gaming has potential as a spectator sport, but I'm not too confident in the ability for it to be presented well. Up till now the only show I know of that ever tried to make a spectator sport out of gaming was Arena and they did a horrible job of it. The matches were always cut down to a couple of minutes, meaning everything tended to be very disjointed.

    I'm not sure FPS is the ideal genre for a spectator sport either. The number of players and the limitation of the first-person view make it tough
    • "I'm not sure FPS is the ideal genre for a spectator sport either. The number of players and the limitation of the first-person view make it tough for the audience to really keep track of what is happening and where all the players are."

      This goes directly to the post I made about knowing the rules and nuances to be able to appreciate the game.

      In FPS games unless you know the maps, you have no idea what the people playing are trying to do. No amount of presentation will change that. Showing the maps would ma
      • Sure you need to know the maps, but as a European who did not grow up with a sport like NFL, trust me, it takes a long time to get a clue as to what on earth is going on.. First after many matches are you able to enjoy the game... It is of course the same for these games, you need to know what is going on to be able to enjoy it..
      • Who says you have to watch it on a traditional TV over cable or satellite? Wouldn't it be nice if you could connect to some server over the internet and watch people play a game, maybe have the screen split into 4 where you could switch the screens between different views? maybe have one screen on the view of your favourite player, one screen on each of the flags, or better yet, just run around and watch everything else, without actually participating in the game. This could be fun for RTS games where you
  • One way this could work is to have some damn good in-game cameramen. Otherwise, the audience is stuck watching an unattractive geek sit down playing with a keyboard/mouse combo. Hardly exciting. Yea, i've seen plenty of player POV shots and "surveillance" cameras that track the in-game action, but if they were to actively follow the action with some dynamic camera angles it they might have something.
    • by Eccles ( 932 )
      People watch poker and many other competitions after the event, it's only the "major" sports where live TV is typically called for. So instead of good in-game cameramen, store the entire game! Then a director can pick the shots he wants, edit out the dull bits, etc. Like poker, player profiles embedded in the show would probably enhance the viewer interest, by giving them reasons to root for one player or team over the other, etc. People care much more about the game when it's Doyle Brunson vs. Joseph H
  • ... You got to World 8-2, now let me play!
  • by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:25PM (#17939354)
    With football, baseball, hockey, etc., I either lack the talent, equipment, playing area, or teammates to frequently play those sports. That's not to say that people only watch these sports because they themselves cannot play them, but imagine if everyone had access to an NFL arena and a half-decent team...and you were 15 years younger with a solid throwing arm. Now, would you rather watch or play football?

    Why would I want to sit around watching other people play Counter-Strike when I can go into the other room, fire up the PC, and play the game myself? I can watch the best players duke it out after I've been killed and sent to spectator mode. I imagine gamers would initially be the largest audience for these things...and gamers want to play games.

    Gaming *can* be a spectator sport; I love watching my friends play games that I suck at :) But we're all in the same room, drinking and cursing when we lose a level. It just wouldn't be the same if I watched the match on television from hundreds of miles away.
    • Uhm, trust me, against the best CS player, you also lack the talent... People wants to watch the best, you do not do that on a random FFA server, hell the beauty of competitive CS gaming is pretty complicated, it is not like it is a 20 player FFA server.. No the 5on5 matches the pros (yes they make a living doing this..) play has all the elements that other sports have too, individual skill, teamplay, tactics and so on.. People can be as ignorant as they will, but if they take their time and learn the rules
      • Yeah, how often are those guys on public servers - ya know the things the majority of us play on? I'm not discounting their skill, but I can usually hold my own on pub servers, at least to the point where I'm having fun. And I'm still not interested in watching them play when I can be playing the game myself.
        • They are never on public servers, they play 5vs5 only, and trust me, you do not stand a chance... And you yourself wrote that you'd watch other sports because you lacked talent, but you will not accept that you lack the CS talent..?
          • by Thraxen ( 455388 )
            BS to them never being on public servers. They just don't use their normal tags on public servers. This is rather common. Everyone starts out on the public servers and everyone goes back. As to the topic... I mostly agree with you, but it's still just a video game. Even a noob can take down the best with a lucky shot... that's much likely to happen in an actual pro sport like American football. So the comparison isn't entirely valid. Though over the course of a game I'd fully expect the better player
            • by Eccles ( 932 )
              But perhaps that could be a draw. If you could give a few average folks the opportunity to play somehow along with the pros (you might have to limit this to console games to limit cheating), that might create interest. You might even have a pre-show tournament to select the outsiders, and perhaps some tween with mad skillz can make his mark this way.
  • I wouldn't mind watching other people play. Since I can relate to the action that's happening on-screen, it would make the experience all the more enjoyable.
  • With CPL and MLG quickly growing in popularity as they have, I see no reason why gaming couldnt make the jump to a more publicly accepted level. There have been specials popping up all around featuring popular gamers, and how they are making the move to the next level of popularity. The major paper in my area published a front page story about Walshy and Final Bosses winning the MLG. who knows if it will succeed, much of that lies on the presentation and acceptance of broadcasting companies... but i thin
  • It's only a sport if it's played with a ball.

    Golf: yes

    Softball: yes

    Bowling: yes

    Hockey: no

    Jacks: yes

  • Presentation (Score:3, Informative)

    by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:41PM (#17939616)
    A lot has to do with how the event is presented to the person's interested.

    1. Firstly, you really need people that are interested in the sport. If there are 5 people that still play doom, it may not be the best candidate for a media event.

    2. Once you have a loyal throng of fanbois just waiting to absorb all the godliness of the event, you still need to present the event in a way that attracts them to it.

    A very classic example of how NOT to present sports coverage was when Fox started to broadcast hockey. If there are any Hockey fans out there, you know what kind of unmitigated disaster that was. The camera work was bad, the glowing puck was really annoying and it just didn't have the same feel that more traditional hockey broadcasters had already learned to do right (at least in Canada, eh?).

    Find a format that people seem to like. Be flexible in the beginning allowing for glaring problems that fans may have. Once you get that winning format, tighten it up so that people watching from event to event will feel comfortable with how the program flows. This will go a long way in encouraging existing viewers to tune in again, and it allows those viewers to effectively talk about whats going on without them having to second guess themselves.

    3. Choose your medium carefully
    Can anyone here see a problem with video game championhips being broadcasted over the internet? Wouldn't one assume that it is: 1. cheaper, 2. reachable by nearly 100% of anyone that would care to watch it anyways.

    Just putting it on the idiot box doesn't automatically make the event any more attractive to watch. I tuned into the spike VG awards one time and I couldn't watch 5 minutes of it before being so repulsed I had to kill it. It just seems that the plain text end-of-year awards on web pages holds my attention longer than their monkey show.

    Thats about all I have to say about that. In conclusion, yes it -can- be a good idea, but make damn sure that what you're selling is something that your fans would actually watch.

  • by grumbel ( 592662 ) <> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @05:52PM (#17939798) Homepage
    I think the biggest show-stopper currently is simply that games are not designed to watch. With first person shooters you end up with watching the game out of the perspective of a single player, so you have zero overview of what is actually happening, having the moderator switching camera perspetive to other players increases confusing even more and the simplistic overview map that you got in games like CounterStrike is totally boring to watch. Now if you watch a demo inside the game engine itself this is not that much a problem, since you are the one doing the switching, but for a TV broadcast where somebody else does the switching, it is simply not very well suited at all.

    With RTS games the situation doesn't look much better, while the top-down view clears up some confusing, only having a tiny view on the whole map adds enough back into the mix to ruin the fun. That the minimap of the game and the units itself end up being a unwatchable blurry mess on a TV screen doesn't help either.

    So while all this isn't an issue for gamer, since they can just watch the demo recordings in the engine itself, it makes games quite unsuitable for broadcast. That games have quite complicated rules makes things only even more complicated.

    For video games to become a spectator sport they simply have to be designed to be more watchable. What might also help is if the demo playback would become easier, i.e. say you could download them on XBoxLive without a need to buy the game itself or keep it manually at the right patch level that is able to actually play the demo, just click&watch.

    • 1. sport is not designed to be watched, either. well, 'classic' sport, at least.
      2. see supreme commander and its zoom capability.

      I agree on other points, though. Complex rules don't help potential spectators.
  • I've watched more videos from that Speed Demos Archive site than I'd care to admit. Most of them are boring as can be, but some games are a blast to watch even when the person playing isn't within earshot of your taunts and inane suggestions.

    General qualities of a good spectator game: the observer is familiar with the game, there're multiple ways to reach the goal (whether or not this is as intended), and there's a substantial difference between the performance of an average player and of a great player.
  • I kind of agree with this article. Gaming is very exciting when playing, it can be a huge bore to watch. In fact when I die in Counter-Strike that's the one thing I dread is when I die I gotta watch these other guys play until the round is over. However, the one major exception to my opinion is Pump It Up. Pump It Up is essentially a Korean version of DDR but instead of 4-panels, they have 5-panels. Anyways once every November the company who makes the game has a world tournament called the World Pump It
  • ...This would need to have software support, I mean, actually moving into game programming and creating Spectator modes where, for instance, in an FPS you could get some sort of environment cameras that let you see players positioning themselves and what happens next, you could have overall stats been displayed which wouldn't be available to actual player view. I know I do get a kick from Lineage II videos of castle sieges and such. It's really good to watch and figure out strategy and the whole chaotic act
  • then why not video games?

    NHK plays hours of Japanese chess matches on Sunday mornings in Japan, and if that is enough action and entertainment to keep it on the air, then I don't see why a televised FPS or even RTS match couldn't be successful if properly executed. The Wii also adds a whole new dimension to be "spectated[SIC]."

    • NHK plays hours of Japanese chess matches on Sunday mornings in Japan, and if that is enough action and entertainment to keep it on the air, then I don't see why a televised FPS or even RTS match couldn't be successful if properly executed. The Wii also adds a whole new dimension to be "spectated[SIC]."

      Warcraft 3 has been out for years and it's still holding events that thousands (maybe millions) of people watch in Korea and on the internet. The prize money is nothing to sneeze at either, most reaching over $10k US per event.

      Personally, I have seen a few of these "games" and if you have played the game yourself you know just how amazing it is to watch some of these people play.

  • by LParks ( 927321 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @06:11PM (#17940102)
    I've done competitive gaming for Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source (currently in the Cyberathlete Amateur League Invite division for CS:S), and I believe that its proven that gaming can be a spectator sport. I've watched big matches via SourceTV, seen them broadcasted with commentators over the Internet through sites like [], [], and [] and have been seen spectators in the triple digits connected to the same medium to watch that match. However, I know that almost all of these are gamers, and most play that specific game itself. While that's somewhat true of real spectator sports (almost all sport spectators have played one sport or another in a league, and a lot of football fans at one time played football), it not nearly as extreme. Thus, there's a lot larger market for real life sports. Not to mention that watching real life sports can be social, such as going out to a ballpark with friends or even watching the big game around a TV. Watching e-sports over the net on your computer, even sitting in a voice chat with your friends who also are watching, isn't all that social. Also, you usually have to be pretty involved in that game to truly appreciate the depths of a team and the skill of the players. On the other hand, gaming has many of the same fundamentals of what make popular pro sports good spectator sports. Take a game such as Counter-Strike: Source at the top levels. You have a strat caller (quarterback) that calls plays at the start of a round and audibles during a round, you have AWPers (flashy like homerun hitters), assault riflers (get the job done, like grinders in hockey or like playmakers that set things up), and even managers that handle all the out of game operations and sponsorships. Teams also need strong teamwork, chemistry, and a good playbook to be great at the top level, just like pro sports teams won't do well with just a collection of skill (i.e. Detroit Red Wings). The potential is there for gaming to become spectator oriented, but due to the limited scope and diversity (Quake isn't anything like Starcraft and likely won't share many spectators) it won't become huge like real life sports. Even without massive spectators, professional gaming will exist due to the ability of sponsors to concentrate on some pretty specific demographics. If you look at current gaming sponsors, its pretty easy to get a big return on a small investment advertising your hardware, new games, delivery food, energy drinks, LAN center, etc. to gamers and their spectators.
  • [] recently posted a run of Deus Ex: Invisible War. It makes the game look semi-entertaining to watch as it short-circuts portions of the map, dodges through large number of enemies, and throws objects at AI players that simply stand around doing nothing. [] recently posted a batch of videos.

    Granted, these are single player games, but that doesn't prevent anybody from not enjoying them.
  • Honestly, now. If a non-participant has a way to watch the game and enjoys doing so then it's a spectator sport. Some games even have spectator modes built-in, like Guild Wars.
  • Texas Hold'em? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @07:04PM (#17940908)
    If they can make a fucking card game a spectator's sport then surely watching video games can be a spectator's sport.

    Depending on the game, there are some people I prefer to watch than play the game myself. A friend of mine is a killing machine in Halo - I'm good, but I've watched him play for hours online and not die. That's good TV.

    But I'm not going to watch someone roll their Katamari into the same wall five times in a row without bitch slapping the controller out of their hands.

    Likewise I'm not going to watch someone build a city. Nor am I going to watch someone ride their pet tiger across a green landscape.

    It has to be fast paced and action packed. First person shooters with good viewing perspectives, real time strategies with massive battles, possibly even head to head puzzle games, but they'll all need constant stats, and really aggressive players.

    How about the lumberjack competitions? It's a guy chopping down a tree. WTF. But it's how it's presented and all the information they give with it.
    • How about the lumberjack competitions? It's a guy chopping down a tree. WTF.
      Quite right. I happened to zap past some on EuroSports last month.

      It's a guy chopping through a two foot log with a fucking axe. WTF? How the hell do you even do that in less than two minutes, let alone 16 fucking seconds?!?
  • I forget what it was called, but I definitely remember enjoying some of these when I watched G4/TechTV. The channel is going down the tubes, and this wasn't the best that they had, but one thing that made it bearable, or even interesting, was actual interviews with the "athletes", and breaking it down into more of a play-by-play kind of thing, rather than trying to do it in realtime.

    It's worth noting that this is exactly what HLTV was for -- way less bandwidth, and it'd look way better rendered locally on m
  • I've loved watching others game for almost as long as I've enjoyed gaming. I used to watch my cousin play Super Mario Bros 2, and I was enthralled. You can identify styles of play and even predict what they're going to do next. I guess it depends on the person if they're going to like watching the game. To me, there has to be an element of exploration or creativity for the game to be exciting. If its a seriously competitive game, I want to play myself because I can't stand watching amatuers make mistak
  • qualify as a sport either.
  • This question of whether spectator gaming is a sport reminds me of my years in high school when cheerleading was considered a sport but marching band wasn't.

    Honestly, why does it matter? Are there spectators watching people get their game on? Do gamers' heart rates increase in intense gaming moments? Do they begin to sweat heavily during matches? Don't they train for hours on end?

    Personally, it might as well be a sport. But then again, I was also a skilled tuba player in my high school band and thought run
  • Why are we still debating this? This question is so 1999. It's not a spectator sport because there aren't enough people who are knowledgable enough to make it profitable to televise on a regular basis. Yes, I know about South Korea and Starcraft but we're in a Western context.
  • I remember a friend of mine in college watching my games of Magic Carpet religiously even though he never played himself.

    Can video games be a spectator sport? Absolutely. Will they draw enough audience to justify advertising costs? Who knows?
  • Is a bunch of guys kicking a ball around really a spectator sport? Is a bunch of guys driving cars really a spectator sport?
    Is a bunch of guys skating (whether quickly, gracefully, or into the boards) really a spectator sport?
    Is a couple of guys hitting each other with pillows tied to their fists really a spectator sport?
    Is a bunch of guys sitting around a table playing cards really a spectator sport?
    Is a bunch of guys playing video games really a spectator sport?

    If people watch, then it's a "spectato

  • Most sports have an area of focus. If there's a ball, the area immediately surrounding the ball is all you need to look at at any given time. Capture the flag would be easy to get good shots of. Other games would best be watched afterwards, when someone's gone over the game, picking the best angles for everything that happened, prettying it up for the audience. Boring? Football is a few seconds play, a minute watching them walk slowly back and stand around doing nothing, repeat. On the other hand this
  • While it may be conducive to spectators, I can with a fair certainty reply gaming is NOT a sport.
    • by Synic ( 14430 )
      Hey Archfeld, send me an email to (remove the .N0SP4M.) Trying to reconnect and I'm guessing you don't check your Hotmail anymore since it's on your Slashdot profile publically.
  • Some games would translate well as spectator sports... Quake 3 or other competitive FPS games can definitely be spectator sports, the camera's (and levels) just need to be re-worked to deal with the angles, shots, and following the players.

    Many mod makers for such games have already done it. Some games would be difficult to translate due to the nature of the game (Starcraft, other RTS games). But games like UT2004, Quake, et, and other similar games would translate OK. Racing games might translate alrigh
  • I remember being young enough to sit in an elementary school classroom, and watching a Pac-Man stand-up arcade game competition televised on TV. The announcer actually did a great job with it, and it even had slo-mo replays.

    I know I wasn't the only kid who was riveted.

    Spectator-sport gaming is nearly a successful concept nearly a generation old; it just requires producers to accept the "geek" of it and move on.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A giant panda bear is really a member of the racoon family.