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What Makes an eSports Game Good?

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With popular acceptance into the 2022 Asian Games, eSports have been gaining ground year after year. Now, more than ever, competitive video games are preparing for a worldwide stage so that geeks, shut-ins, outcasts or any other number of mislabeled or misunderstood derelicts can compete alongside other exceptional entertainment. Some may argue video games have no place in the physical realm of athletes, while others stick to the thought of mental toughness and endurance is just as important as physical prowess. But most beg the question, what makes an eSports game enjoyable to watch? Or for that matter, what is an eSport? And why are the good ones so popular to play?

To answer the latter first, eSports, or more commonly known as electronic sports or pro gaming, is competitive gaming whether or not it’s one on one or team based events. Game categories most often include fighting, shooters or massive multiplayer, either being action or real-time strategy. Tournaments and competitions range from dozens to hundreds of participants, leaving spectators high into the millions worldwide, it’s no wonder there’s an outcry for more of this entertaining phenomenon.

So, with all this attention on eSports and the competitive field it’s now bound to enter, we all want to know what games create a worthwhile experience to enjoy with your buds and a few cold ones. We all know games are loads of fun to play and help to forget about the finer details of reality, for a little while anyway, but why should watching a few dozen over-skilled, cocky CoD players rack up kill after kill interest any of us? Let’s take a look at a few proper details in making a good eSports game.

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One of the most popular eSports style game is the first person shooter (FPS), such as Call of Duty or Battlefield. Giving an up close and personal feel to the game, players primarily wield guns, gaining kills which in turn acquire points and so on. When broken up into teams these matches can be very entertaining to watch, mimicking war zones and battlefields from all over the world, watching snipers expertly take down their enemies while their teammates flank around opposing forces. Suddenly a tank gunning for the opposing team turn the tables and wipes out everyone in sight. Guns. Explosions. Action. Loads of fun to play and the farther we delve into the world of technology, the more dazzling they are to watch. These are quintessential eSports games.

Real Time Strategy (RTS) has had a tight grip on the professional gaming world for decades now. Games like Blizzard’s StarCraft have been holding multiple tournaments every year since the start of the millennium until the sequel released and took over in 2010. More often held as an individual competition rather than team based, players take control of multiple units attack against the opposition while guarding their base. Though not as exciting to watch as the FPS games, these are still highly valued as some of the most competitive. Like an exciting chess match played between two highly skilled techies.

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Next on the ever-growing list of popular eSports games is multiplayer online battle arenas, or MOBA. Much like the previously mentioned RTS games, these require high focus as well as skill. As opposed to one person controlling an army of units, teams are made and each individual controls their own “hero”. Combat is usually point and click based as teams force their way on the enemy territory. Like watching a battle ensue from the view of an airborne helicopter, MOBA’s can leave you in awe as you marvel at the high energy and action from each team.

Fighting games are perhaps the most fundamentally structured form of eSports. Working much like standard martial arts tournaments, there’s usually a bracket made up of a bundle of solo fighters, square up, and may the best man/woman win. Straight forward and to the point but that doesn’t mean they’re not enticing to watch. Big followings and widely popular amongst the professional gaming world, games like Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. bring a lot of entertaining gameplay and fanfare to the table.

Getting down to the end of the list and I’m ready to break out what I think might be the most competitive eSports genre to date, racing. When you get down to it, racing isn’t about who has the faster car, whose car is lighter or gets off the line quicker, because at the end of the day, most cars are going to be pretty damn close to even. It becomes being about who makes the least amount of mistakes. Who doesn’t choke under pressure. Sure, these could be said about all of the other previously mentioned eSports games but there’s something about crossing that checkered flag in a gorgeous super car at 200 mph. One of the more exciting games to watch and, if done right, shoots adrenaline through your senses when put in the middle of a high-speed online tournament.

The final eSports category that makes up this list is none other than the sports category. One on one, players taking control of their favorite sports teams, whether it’s football, soccer, basketball or even hockey. The popular game, Rocket League fits in this category as well but requires teams of players in 3s or 4s to collaborate together to achieve victory giving a sense of teamwork to the sport. If you haven’t been living under a rock for your entire life, chances are you’ve watched a sporting event. There’s not much difference in this category. Most sports games are something you’ve seen played out, either in real life or on television. The one exception is when two teams of rocket powered steel boot around an oversized ball, trying to score on the other teams goal, in high-octane, automotive exploding mayhem. When surrounded by mediocre sports games/events, Rocket League sticks out like a sore thumb. This one is worth the watch.

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Professional gaming is beginning to see more and more daylight as more news breaks about the competitive market. It’s a much broader area than most are aware of and the thought of video games sharing the stage with athletic superstars is something completely foreign to the vast majority of spectators. Let’s just hope, with the time gamers may spend under the microscope at the future Asian Games, a light may shine, even if it’s just a glimmer, and someone will see the wonderful competitive nature of eSports.

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