A Sociocultural Analysis of Gaming and eSports
The Solo Trail – Unbeaten
The Solo Trail – Unbeaten

The Solo Trail – Unbeaten

I’ve probably rewritten this introduction hundreds of times. Each time I did, it said too much or too little about myself or the basic goals I wanted to outline with this page. Let’s just start with general information about myself: my name is Michael Cohen, I am a 23-year old Sociology and Professional [information] Writing student. I have been contributing to this subculture we all love called E-Sports for only two years and while that may not seem like very long, I’ve done my fair share of work and contributions.

The short version of my credentials?

  • Manager of 5 pro gaming teams (50+ professional players)
  • Writer for 9 E-sports websites (5 team sites + 4 organizations: 150+ docs/articles)
  • Organizer or Contributor of 11 community events (74,000 viewers/attendants)
  • Some video-editing for one or two organizations, nothing big, just twitch.tv highlight-editing, presentational writing, etc.

Sounds impressive, at least to me it does and it fills my entire two-page CV (seriously, I had to remove some minimum-wage jobs I had done in 2006-2008 to fit it all), but the first lesson you have to learn when you want to get anywhere in E-Sports is to learn to dedicate yourself to a few organizations over a long period of time (which I haven’t done, so I am being patronizing from the other side). It doesn’t take a math wizard to see that if I’ve done all of this in two years, it means:

  1. I Juggled a lot of jobs simultaneously (Writing, Organizing BarCrafts or a tournament, managing players)
  2. I left a lot of solid organizations and went to a new one soon after (many reasons for this one)
  3. I learned quantity may not necessarily mean quality work and while I like to think I did a pretty damn good job managing players and writing articles, someone who only does one of those jobs at a time will improve faster and will have a stronger connection with his peers.

So that’s that and I’d be lying if I was satisfied. I got to work with some awesome people and on the flipside; with a lot of organizations that have made me bitter. Over time the facade of working to “help Esports grow” quickly diminished. I think anyone who tells you that they’re doing something “to help/grow Esports” isn’t being entirely truthful. Anyone who does their job(s) unpaid and purely out of passion are doing it both for the sake of their eagerness to matter in a populating scene as well as to help their organization. That’s not necessarily bad as I soon learned when writing this series, but I noticed that E-sports grows through everyone’s contributions. So using that utilitarian statement to recruit new volunteers or to discredit any accusations of malice is counter-productive in the grand scheme of things. Interpret it how you will and I’m sure we could even widen the range of people who bullshit with the buzzword(s) “Growing Esports”.

I’ll answer the foundational question I wanted to answer from the start:

Why are you starting your own space?

I was listening to the suggestions of several friends and I finally started this space after I hit a dead-end in my endeavours in E-Sports. I’m at a point where I am not really affiliated with anyone and now’s a better time than ever to do some opinion topics. Doing my own content meant I would be alone and would work around my own initiative, drive and interest. However, it also meant that I may do something that requires more work than I thought and I would be on my own. It meant that the community reception can be more direct and harsh towards me personally and my views as I would not be backed by some credible organization as when I was writer for some. In the end, this series that took me about a month of writing, editing, verification and re-writing will really be everything I’ve learned, observed and felt throughout my time. I started out with three pieces and ended up going to ten. All of them delve into inspecting the five perspectives of the scene: teams, tournaments, players, spectators and contributors. Ultimately, it aims to really take a strong look into the many issues that inhibit the StarCraft community and E-Sports culture.

*[to note that all future posts will be recorded by my own voice and available on youtube or mp3 format for your convenience]

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