In today's AnchorDesk column, David Coursey sets out to predict the future of online gaming. He admits to not being a gamer himself, but while I'm far from L337 myself (I don't even have a PS2 yet), even I could tell that the following statement was just ridiculous:
I am ready to predict that it won't be very long before online gaming becomes a spectator sport. Someday in the not-too-distant future, I believe we'll sit around watching online gamers do battle with one another, first on the Internet, and then on something like ESPN.
That will turn gamers into professional "athletes." ...The point being that I think online gaming is going mainstream, joining TV, music, movies, and the Net in the center of our country's entertainment industry.
This may sound outlandish, but no more so than ten exceedingly tall people running around in their underwear bouncing an orange ball. Believe me, stranger successes have been made.
In two words: no way. Two reasons: First off, watching someone else play a video game is boring (right, honey?). If you're going to be online, you're going to want to play. People who do play online and get fragged can hardly wait to jump back into the fray. Secondly, (and this highlights the ridiculousness of Coursey's basketball analogy), although many online games do have a learning curve, the ability to play an online game--and play it well--is accessible to lots of people, and is mostly a matter of having time to practice. That just makes sense--games fail if they're so hard to learn, no one plays them, or if it takes a special talent (like being double jointed) to work the controls. And the games are designed to be appealing to players, not to spectators.
People like to watch professional sports because the players have talent beyond those of your casual player, and they've devoted lots of practice time to honing that talent. Spectators become angered if a player doesn't appear to be any better than they are. And competition among so many talented players is exciting to watch. By contrast, it's difficult to imagine many gamers that are so much better than the legions of others that people would prefer watching to playing. No way.