Esports, commentary and moving forward

The recent editorials of both UltraDavid and Trouble Brewing has made me want to write this. First let me say that I find both to be very intelligent and very correct in most aspects. However, I find that they are a little too defensive in terms of explaining the roots of the fighting community and why it’s different from other larger Esports. In the end, I believe the focus of this is to try to encourage ways for the fighting community to move past the barrier of entry it’s own sub-culture has developed and move it into a more mainstream light.

The BIGGEST issue that fighters have that stop it from going mainstream is it’s accessibility. n order to truly appreciate a fighting game, you have to know exactly what is going on. I watch fighting games that I’m not familiar with and hear entire crowds go ‘oooohhh’ on a moment that I saw and thought ‘what just happened? That was special?’ And that’s from someone who, while not as heavy as a fighting enthusiast as most on these boards, is more knowledgeable than most laymen. The only way to change that is to understand that announcers and commentary aren’t just filler, but vitally needed. In an ultimate ideal scenario, pre-recorded options will be available on command to show what happens in mixups and how certain scenarios are unblockable, etc. But let’s worry about that later

I know many of you will disagree. So let us take real sports for example. Football enthusiasts love football and know pretty much all the rules as FGC enthusiasts know about the various intricacies of a game’s system mechanics. However, they still use commentary to aid non-hardcore fans understand the game more. They even spend lots of money (about $20,000 per game) to add the fancy first down line on TV. Does it help? You bet. Here’s a linkto an article about it. The same tech has been added to other sports including nascar to great effect in breaking the boundary of understanding the rules of sports. And really, those rules are so much easier to understand than the mechanics of a fighting game. Active frames, various character states, tech options, etc. That’s stuff that just don’t make sense in a normal every day world. Telling a layman that player a fouled player b is understandable even if you don’t know the actual rules of the foul or even any of the rules of that particular sport. Telling a layman that player a cannot block because of recovery frames won’t work as easily.

The biggest issue for Fighting games for commenting is the pace. The games just happen too fast that by the time one can explain the genius of a particular mixup, the game might be over. The answer to that comes again from sports itself (and my brother for suggesting this idea). Instead of having matches just play one after another, force a 30 second to 2 minute break between matches to allow commentors to replay the key moments and decisions in the match in the same way it happens in Boxing (and every other sport for that matter). A system would have to be in place to be able to record, mark and replay the games, and I know that’s asking a lot, but that’s really what’s needed.

Is this all worth it? I strongly believe so. We hear a lot about how Starcraft has blown up and is huge for esports. And really, it has a lot to do with all the youtube commentors out there that take the time to watch replays and help the lay-player understand the tactics of the higher level players. believe strongly that if it weren’t for these early adopters, the SC scene would be smaller. While the money-minting funding of Blizzard has adds a lot to the attraction of more gamers due to increased cash prizes, in the end you still need a fan base large enough to support the life of the game. Without it, third party sponsors will not be interested. Sponsors are interested in getting their name out there, and the first step has to be made by the FGC to show that we are worth sponsoring and can reach larger crowds.

That said, all of this has to be timed properly. This kind of new technology and approach has to come with a big game release because it will show new players that normally don’t follow fighters that there is a community worth following. Again, going back to the SC2 scene, beta players commenting on beta games and tournaments gave them the experience to do this on a larger scale. That way, when the game opened publicly, the whole system was ready and there was already a backlog of things for them to keep them entertained and hyped about the game.

Finally, let me just state that I don’t want to join with current esports. I love the fighting community and it’s personalities. I don’t want to share bandwith and fight about which game to see. I want FGC to stand on it’s own legs and one day show esports how it’s done. I believe we’ve pretty much reached the limit of what pure hype can bring in terms of popularity of Fighting Games, it’s time to embrace already developed standards to attract a wider community.

Two thoughts
The base idea of visual or video depictions or hard to explain things like the different types of frames in an attack is pretty brilliant, and not to hard to accomplish for someone with the capability.

The second is that, while not a bad idea, taking that much time between matches significantly increases the time of something like a to 8 or top 16 when each match is played on stream, at a time when a lot of tournaments run into time issues already.

But in general I think the idea of this esport debate causing us to think of ways we can improve on what we already do is a great thing.

We have to find ways of attracting those that know nothing about fighting games to the FGC. Yet thats a process that’ll be very hard because if they wasn’t hyped by then they may never be hyped about what we do. Also I sure as hell know FGC isn’t really for the family crowd. The reason why SC2 caught hype because it’s much slower paced then fighting games so you’re able to break all the shit down. Trying to do replays during an active tourny would more or less waste a lot of time. Even doing such on YT, Streams and DVD’s will take alot of work.

Even then mainly those that understand the tech that’s being broken down to them will appreciate it. The FGC basically has everything they need skilled casters, commentators that are knowledgeable, they can hype up both the crowd and stream monsters. We have quite a few venues that like us being there. We even have some really decent sponsors. Don’t forget a very helpful community. All we really lack is that rich man cash flow.

FGC can become just as good if not better then the MLG. All this rush to do things is gonna cause mistakes to happen that we may not be able to take back. So I think we need to slow down and take our time with this. We can most defiantly work with MLG on some collaboratory events but it’s better off we do our own thing because I believe that the FGC will be bigger and better under our own power.

My point is not that we need to attract more people. Actually, my point is that people are naturally attracted to FGs in general but are turned off because they can’t understand it. The article that I linked has a comment about how a fan’s wife has fully understood the first down because of the tv added line and how it’s been demystified. FGs are generally very pretty and beating someone else in combat has always been a source of entertainment, same goes with the mental beat down one player gives another with good mixups and good play. It’s all fun. They just don’t understand what’s going on. The cash flow isn’t really the issue. The cash will come when it’s proven that it’s a viable model to make money. And really, as much as I love the hype train, it doesn’t sell sponsors. That is especially true since most hardcore fans will be staring at the fight and not the ads. You need a casual market.

As for the timing issue, my suggestion would be to force a short 20-30 second recap on each match within a set and force a 2 minute break between sets. Generally more time is used for button checks and getting the players on the stage anyway, so the 2 minute break isn’t the big issue. Why stare at button checks when you can be reviewing the match that just played, talk about statistics of the upcoming players, and expected tactics? The break of 30 seconds per match might be an argument, but I don’t really think so. Most hype yelling moments last longer than that. Just reviewing key moments without a full breakdown of why it was great would be worth it. Just revisit it on the long break if it was truly worthwhile.

With the statistics of the upcoming players if they’re unknowns that’s gonna be hard the same with their tactics. The 2 min break is pretty much the same time that spooky runs an ad during a tourny. With fighting games to review key moments only those that understand are gonna follow so there’s gonna be a need for a break it down which is gonna hold up time. It’ll be damn near impossible to review key moments in a match in 30sec and make it so everybody can understand it. The casual viewers are gonna have to meet the FGC half way they’re gonna have to learn the lingo and how certain tactics work on their own to speed up the process. I can see a revisit during a game change yet that might be iffy as well because of time issues. Also with changing of commentators will cause issues.

Not going to happen. When a round ends in Marvel, people want to hope right back into it while they’re still on the high.

SF is the same, when someone takes the round they hope right back into it.

Glen at get your tournament even wrote stats on people waiting to begin the next match vs people who want to hop right in and waiting and “gathering yourself” hurt the loser more than it helped. The winner wants to keep the momentum.

It can work in some form though, replays were worked into both NEC and the first SRK UMVC3 tournament.
As Mr. X pointed out though the big issue with the 30 seconds is the rematch option, which is almost standard in fighting games at this point, as it should be.

The same thing happen in arcade though, were people are drawn in by the hype of fighting games that don’t necessarily understand what is going on, and those crowds usually disperse quickly after the match because the don’t understand what is going one once the hype dies down, and because something like this idea is basically impossible on an arcade cabinet during regular play.

There’s overall enough dead time during a tournament so just replace Jaha’s insight on the latest ways to use SWAG in a sentence with actual info. :tup:

You just had to go there. Jaha there to cook wonton soup and fuck all our bitches. Besides the SWAG with some decent insight when gets through with the latter three things.

Replays would be nice, but might be a little overkill on every match I think. It’d just take up too much time otherwise and you’d wear it out with overuse.
IMO, it’d be best to reserve it for highlight matches or for whenever the commentators feel like they have something important to point out. Use the replays moderately and try to time it when necessary. Timing is the most important thing here imo; Trying to fit it within an unknown amount of deadtime and knowing when that deadtime is gonna crop up. Commentators can make a list of replay moments that they’d like to go through and slowly work their way through the list as the opportunity for it arises thanks to any deadtime. By doing this, the replays can double up as recaps for whatever match you’re looking at again that happened X minutes ago, effectively helping any new viewers that just tuned in on top of it all. You don’t have to go through replays of a match straight away after it’s finished and most certainly not for every match as well.

Anyway that’s my little thoughts on the matter.

The logical part of me says that the 20 second pause between matches is a small sacrifice for what could be tremendous amounts of education for the casual audience. The gamer inside of me completely agrees, though, on forcing to wait on rematches. Lord knows I hit that replay so fast I should get a kill streak for it. Whether or not the other dead air time is enough to not do the match by match analysis should be tested, but the suggestion has been made. I’ll leave it to actual tourney heads to decide that, seeing as no matter how much I push either way, my voice will mean nothing.

As for it being overkill on every match, not really. Keep in mind that the goal is not to highlight all the important moments, or even THE important moment of a match, but to educate, bit by bit, the casual audience on what it is that competitive gamers see and how they see the game. If a particular issue appears every match, don’t talk about it, talk about something else. Take a look at how much replays are actually used in real sports. They replay the same segment in slow motion three to five times normally to really see what’s happening. For the hardcore, it might be too much, but we’re trying to accommodate for the casual audience. I know in reality that time is actually filler to let the athletes either get into position or get a breath of air between plays, but keep in mind how much you have to educate the casual FG audience vs Sports. Sports rules are easy compared to FGs. But again, it doesn’t even have to be replays of the match per se, maybe a pre-recorded example that highlights clearer what the critical moment is. It could even be something completely different, like a quick tutorial on the primary tactics of a main character in use. These things can be a few seconds long with quick cuts.

Hmm? From the articles mentioned, aren’t eSports folks actually saying that fighting games are a better fit for broadcast since the matches are short and, more importantly, everything you need to know is right there on the screen (both characters, life bars, etc.) compared to other games like FPSs and RTSs.

Also, the purpose of commentary isn’t to explain everything, it’s to provide an emotional context for what’s happening on screen. Look at commentary for MMA. You don’t need to hear the finer points of why so-and-so move is a good move since you can clearly see that it is a good move. In any case, the pace is too fast to go into such detail, and in any case the viewer can clearly what’s going on anyway. What the commentator does then is to simply confirm the viewers gut reaction by framing the events in the context of the specific match in question guiding the viewer to the proper reaction. The same thing applies to fighters, you don’t need to know why Daigo parrying Justin’s SA2 in 3S is good since can clearly see the momentum shift - Daigo’s Ken takes no damage and then does a shit ton of damage to Justin’s Chun after that. Seth’s job at that point in time was to provide context for that - explaining that Justin was about to put Daigo down, pointing out how Daigo was getting frustrated at Justin’s defensive style (the whole “rare footage of Daigo actually getting angry” bit). Seth didn’t need to go into technical details like explain how Daigo’s parries totally negated the damage from Justin’s SA2 because it was self evident (Daigo’s life bar not shrinking). The icing on the cake was Seth giving in to the hype of the moment! This is important, since all the technical details in the world are useless if there isn’t any emotional involvement. In this case, Seth hype (in addition to the crowd) helps involve the viewer emotionally. At that point in time, they’re probably already feeling pretty hype about what Daigo did, Seth and the crowd’s hype confirms that hype and helps bring it to another level - confirming the viewers feeling that yes, this is something amazing that you just saw.

here is the first showmatch, pretty good use of replays.

I was googling pics on frames and something similar to this could work to pop on the screen an explain a concept with some help from a good commentator.

My reply to that would be that taking time to explain things pays you back in the future in the way of people coming back to view more events, felling more involved and possibly pick up the game. The most common OOOOHHHH moment on stream, even more then the amazing moments, are the dropped combo or missed opportunity moments and without growing someone’s understanding of the game they won’t ever understand those moments because everyone else is reacting to something that didn’t actually happen and therefore has no visual cues but its a huge factor in both the match and the hype. I mean its good to get it once a commentator explains it, but its better to know it and have that same AWWWW at the same time as everyone else because you know what just happened.

20 seconds or even a few minutes isn’t really enough time to get detailed about much of anything in a fighting game. Go watch that panel Seth K. did at EVO last year in which he goes over a single game between Daigo and Lamerboi. Granted, he had to wait on translations for everything Daigo said, but it’s like an hour long iirc.

Not that you couldn’t do it, but it would probably fit better as its own segment.

I’d argue that getting emotional involvement is more important than simply feeding info. There’s less incentive to do research and learn about something when you aren’t involved.

Isn’t one of the goals to get people involved though?

No one is advocating replacing the current stream content with a lecture of frame data, but that down time and time between matches could sometimes be used to visually explain things that may not be known by some of your viewers and that is harder to explain over forums and chat, not every time, but its a good insert.

That’s why there’s YT for more analyzing videos, the casuals kinda need to learn some shit on their own. Pretty much the FGC needs something like Sportscenter but doing such in a tourny where shit needs to get done asap might run time over. Plus a more casual audience might not even watch as late as the hardcore so all the work for them is wasted on those that know what’s going on already. Then you have to go into the fact that all commentators aren’t equal. NEC had commentary switching up after a good cluster of matches and each one brought something to the table. So when it’s time for shit to get broken down it’ll be different with each commentator which might throw off casuals.

Casual fans will not go search youtube for more analyzing videos to explain an event to them. Casual fans do not respond to the emotional aspect of commentary because the game doesn’t resonate with them because they don’t understand it. Those are things hardcore fans will do. The market this would help would be the casual player that plays the game and enjoys it then wants to go and see a stream of a pro game to see what it’s like. If you do not catch the interest of a casual fan that is curious how the pros do it and instead turn them off because they couldn’t understand it, you might have lost that fan forever. We’re not trying to convert them to become competitive gamers, just stay long enough to sate their curiosity and make them feel welcome to try again.

And yes, a few seconds and a few minutes per match/set isn’t enough, but compiled over time it works. You want the casual fan to feel like they’ve learned something every time. It would be too much to bombard them withall the info of what’s going on. Once again, the point is not to educate them on ALL the mechanics of the system. That’s impossible, not even the players know all the inner workings and glitches to a particular game. It’s to help the casual market break the barrier of entry. Truth be told, lots of sports commentary is actually wrong, it’s what the commentators feel the audience wants to know. But it does help the casual fans feel closer to the game.

If a casual fan was REALLY curious about how the pros did it they would look it up on YT. Instead of waiting for a tourny to go down so they can get even more interested. Hell that’s what the casual Wednesday events are basically for. Anybody new and willing to stay up late can learn a bit of the FGC. A tournament isn’t really the time to pander to those that don’t know any better, it would slow it down those for that came to watch matches and listen to the personalities on commentary. Casuals are already given a lot of tools so they can get closer to understanding what we’re about, they’re just not using them. There’s combo videos with an without commentary, old tourny videos, tutorials, talk shows, etc. FGC pulled their 50% Hell 75% the outsiders has to make the other 50 at lease make some sort of effort.

The people who would benefit from this most from this fall into the category of interested enough to watch the stream but not interested enough to look up youtube videos. This isn’t just people new to fighting games its also for people who don’t play that particular game.

I’ve watched about eight Mortal Kombat 9 tournaments on stream at this point during major events but I have not even once looked up a vid on how to play it or gone to the Mk9 forums for more info. The only time I pay attention to mk9 is on stream so that is your window to get me interested enough to look up a video.