Thursday, November 8, 2012

Shoutcasting, eSports and Video Games

A buddy of mine loaned me a recent issue of Game Informer magazine, and I read some new terms and concepts that made me think.  eSports are video game competitions, sometimes played in teams, that are staged so non-players can watch them.  Shoutcasters comment on the games in progress.
 
These concepts forced me to think about how I usually picture video games--either someone home alone playing a game (against the software), or groups of people meeting online to play against other humans. 
 
But if you think about it, this evolution of games makes sense.  The newest games, especially some of the first-person-shooters set in real places like the Middle East, are almost photo-realistic to watch.  The weapons, uniforms and vehicles are based on real life items, and the sound effects are excellent.
 
When you sit and watch a football game, you're used to having a couple of commenters in the booth providing both facts and opinions.  While I usually think of video games as something to participate in, I can understand how watching a tense match between highly skilled players might be interesting.  After all, it has some of the same elements of physical sports--the game is immediate, events unfold in real time, and there may be prize money on the line.  So it's natural that we will need 'shoutcasters' to explain the game to us, and the tactics the players are using.
 
To accomplish this, some games now provide tools for streaming games and assisting shoutcasters.  For example, in the new "Call of Duty:  Black Ops 2," shoutcasters can patch into the voice communications between teammates, bring up tactical maps to give viewers a better idea of what's happening, and jump between individual players to see the game through their eyes.  I can imagine a talented shoutcaster could make watching a game very interesting.
 
As with so many things, the march of technology is opening new possibilities and hopefully new jobs for people to pursue.

Have you ever watched a broadcast of a video game? Would you? Comments welcome.
 
(Issue 234 of Game Informer has two articles:  "A New eSports Focus" by Adam Biessener, and "eSports Rising" by the staff.  Also, here is an article onJoystiq, "Black Ops 2 features in-game livestreaming and 'Shoutcasting'" by Xav de Matos.  The pic is from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and I found it at ign.com.)  

5 comments:

  1. As a teacher of middle school boys, I know how important video games are to them. Instead of going out and playing baseball together on the weekends, they interact online through these video games. I am not terribly familiar with shout casting myself. What I have seen is that these live video game experiences often provide a release for a barrage of profanity for these youngsters. So much so, that they themselves advised me not to get an Xbox live subscription for my own son. Personally, I hate watching someone play video games. I do enjoy occasionally playing myself, but even that is short-lived. If I were to become a shoutcaster it would probably be to nag the kids to finish their game and get to bed. Just like the middle schoolers, I would abuse the power.

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  2. I think for broadcasting games, there would have to be a few seconds delay like they often have in sporting events. That way they could 'bleep' out the profanity. That or have professional players sign contracts that include a clause on in-game behavior.

    Thanks for commenting!

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  3. Andrea Kopp, you are correct in that most people on Xbox live are teenagers who are using the service as a profanity outlet. However, professional eSports casting is just that, professional. I would suggest watching the recent Season 2 League of Legends World Championship that had a $5,000,000 prize pool where the winning team took home %1,000,000 and the second place team took home $250,000. The people who cast these games are paid to do the job of eSports casting and they don't have 13 year old teenagers casting these games. The casters are usually wearing suits and it is much more professional than I think you might think.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Cheesebatt, thank you for telling us about this. I have friends that play League of Legends, but I didn't know about the Championship. I think with the right shoutcasters and a well-made production, people will be inclined to enjoy these games/eSports as fans, not just as players.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  4. Andrea Kopp, you are correct in that most people on Xbox live are teenagers who are using the service as a profanity outlet. However, professional eSports casting is just that, professional. I would suggest watching the recent Season 2 League of Legends World Championship that had a $5,000,000 prize pool where the winning team took home %1,000,000 and the second place team took home $250,000. The people who cast these games are paid to do the job of eSports casting and they don't have 13 year old teenagers casting these games. The casters are usually wearing suits and it is much more professional than I think you might think.

    ReplyDelete