We have all heard of sports but there has been a constant rise of online video gaming called “E-Sports”. For those who may not be athletically blessed, E-Sports provides the opportunity to people to showcase their skill, dexterity, and intellect to win games instead. One of the other nice things about E-Sports is that there is a competitive way to play most online games whether it be a first-person shooter like Halo™ or Call of Duty™, or tactical games like Blizzard’s Hearthstone™. It has become a well appreciated phenomenon in entertainment but outside of that there are some issues. One of which is the elitism that exist within the gaming communities.
What is elitism? Elitism is often seen as the attitude or behavior of a person or group who regard themselves as belonging to an elite. Some of the effects of elitism is that it can marginalize a separate group whether it be by actions or ideas. In online gaming, Elitism exists due to the nature of E-sports because they have some differences from regular sports. In this entry, I aim to talk about that elitism and its origins and then squash that there is no reason to have such an attitude.
To begin with regular sports, one can think about a sport and know exactly how it is played. baseball and basketball do not have other ways of playing the sport. If you do, then that is called a convention which probably only applied to the circle of people who agree to play the sport in the same way you do. For basketball, it might be to be more lenient about dribbling or baseball’s might be how they mark up what counts as a foul ball. Regardless of how many conventions that groups play with, the official way of playing the sport is the original rules and intentions of the game. Give or take some contemporary add-ons for safety purposes.
With E-Sports, it not as clear cut as that. Instead, there are often two or more ways to play in the competitive modes of online gaming. For Halo™ it is the case that there is a game mode which allows for all weapons and maps and one with restricted weapons and maps. These restricted game modes are decided and designed by the developers of the game and once shaped, those often become the “official” way of playing the game competitively. For the game modes that have all content available, there is an impression that those game modes are for an inexperienced audience, unable to grasp the “learning curve” of the more restricted game style.
The reasoning behind players who play restricted modes for their elitism goes as follows: It takes more skill to maximize the utility of less options. The other is that with the change of formats (methods in which the restricted rules change on a timed scale), it shows a type of skillful to be able to adapt and master that playstyle as well. Both these reasons are valid if you do not look at it for too long but those who play the game in unrestricted playstyles have counter arguments that naturally equalize the format players. Those who play the unrestricted game modes can claim that it takes more skill to utilize all the aspects in the game and that mastery of an unrestricted playstyle would be mastery of the game itself.
So what’s the big deal about this elitism in E-Sports? Both sides’ arguments are compelling to the same point, the only difference is one group is voluntarily restricting what they get out of the game. Whereas normal sports the official way to play the game is the game itself, with E-sports the official way to play the game what the game developers claim to be the best way. Can we assume that this elitism origins itself from the developer’s claims? If so, who is to say that the developers can just easily switch the “official” method to something else?
So where do we go from here? I claim that elitism in E-Sports does not have any sufficient grounding for its existence. Learning to be good at online gaming, regardless of the method you prefer, is valid in itself and that there are benefits warranted to both sides. There does not need to be any conflicts over E-Sports, after all, it is just a game.