Tomorrow morning I’m going to watch the semi-finals in the World Championships of League of Legends, an online multiplayer battle game where teams of five face off in a fantasy strategy game. I’ve been watching a lot of the championships so far, and really enjoying it. It helps that I like the game, and play it (though poorly) – knowledge means being able to appreciate details in play. However, I also get a kick out of watching the strategic and tactical work of the teams, and seeing their plans shift over the course of the game. It’s also great fun because online gaming events have gathered the energy, production value and audience of big sporting events – the picture above is of last year’s final, which drew on online audience of 32 million. Sports is obviously another place where spectating can be as enjoyable for people as playing – because of the investment in the team, the admiration of skilled athleticism, and more.
It’s made me think about the value of being a spectator in games, rather than playing. In our show, there are many games played by only a few different people each time. It’s important that we craft the experience for the spectators, not just the players – Tassos, our wonderful Ear, has given us strong provocations and advice to manage the show from both of these perspectives. Part of the show’s design, I think, is that the story becomes a main source of that investment, but the games need to be engaging from the outside, simply on a basic level of look, sound and excitement.
(Why) do people enjoy watching games?