writing > play > 21st century sports
Last Updated: June 2014
2 minute read

21st century sports

esports spurring “Real” sports

// Better title please

cross-posted: on Medium

History lesson

esports has been on a meteoric rise for the last decade.

Sports and Gender

  • Traditional sports segregated. esports may open the way to stopping that being the default.

5-minute sport design exercise

Anything can be an exciting sport because of “metagame.” That doesn’t make it a good “game.”

First, it’s going to be a team game. Let’s make it 6 a side, just because. “Yeah teamwork!” Then, it’s going to be symmetric. Both sides have the same goals to attain and defend with the same team size. “Woah it’s balanced!” Let’s play it on a hexagonal patch of land. “Mastery means learning things, such as the precise dimensions of the playing field.” Let’s use a ball for this sport. What should players do with this ball? How about, they need to get it to a specific side of the court? Now add some constraints. You have to get it to the directly opposite side.

  • The point is that it’s easy to make something exciting enough to spectate.
  • Spectating is more about the energy of the crowd and enthusiasm of the people who know/care about what’s going on.
  • The excitement around a competitive sport is often about player personalities, favourite teams, player trades, prize money, streaks, nationalities, underdog stories, etc. You could swap out the rules of the game if you kept everything else around and it would hardly affect most people following it.

As a mechanics-oriented game designer, this feels like the pinnacle of stagnation. They hit a formula that generates money, and then for decades focus on keeping everyone just happy enough to keep generating that money. Hardly anyone cares about the core of the activity – the game.

What is on the horizon

Physical sports competing with esports for viewership. Sports have to be more exciting than the metagame.

This could go the other way

LoL trying to be a lifestyle game that lasts through the generations. They currently do this by not being a static game, but they could reduce the pace of game evolution down to just maintenance and cosmetics.

Casters and production for esports tournaments draw heavily from traditional sports setups.

We’re deep in the information age. Geeks are sexy, glasses are in vogue, and the last thing we want to be identified is as a musclehead.

  • Make physical sports turn from relics we have to work with, to games vying to be more fun and more challenging.