A Sociocultural Analysis of Gaming and eSports
The Thin Corridors of New Content
The Thin Corridors of New Content

The Thin Corridors of New Content

When it comes to content-creation, half the battle is getting it out there and the other half is keeping it alive. Using common grounds to promote your idea becomes challenging when everyone else relies on the same community watering holes as you. Successful self-promotion of your content is both a finicky and difficult area to achieve in a saturated scene with a very skeptical community. It’s even harder to bolster your name if it isn’t in a convenient form of media. The hurdles of content is due to the community’s narrow interests, available free time and the amount of overabundance of the same entertaining material. To explain, the uphill battle in this niche interest is funneled by the convenient format the community enjoys the most (videos over writing) as well as the subjects they like the most (established champion over unknown with potential). The reason for this is the common rule of liking what you know and wanting to see more of what you like.

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So your first obstacle of getting your content out there is latching yourself onto someone the community knows, likes, and is familiar with. A good example of this is ChanmanV’s Pro Corner who keeps flowing good content with some big names, though I’m not sure he has the reputability to do a show with lesser names and still maintain a strong viewer count.

The other problem is personal weight of one’s name, it matters. Does anyone remember JoJoSC2News? This guy pushed out tons of content about a variety of people ranging from Robert Clotworthy, James Lampkin (Kennigit) and even David Ting (IPL). Those are some great and interesting people who had some amazing things to say. However, no one knew who JoJo was nor did he aggressively self-promote himself. The other problem is that he has no influence or reputability within the scene. Kennigit’s video about Boobs, Framing Shots & Esports has about 13,000 more views in only a few months. This a difference of one’s name and reach; how one’s ability to be recognized can affect the flight of one’s content.

So for relatively new content-creators, they face two major challenges. For the iconic and established members, they are approached by a different set of challenges, both are summarized here:

  • If you’re trying to make a name for yourself, you have to constantly flush out new, quality content with established members that the community recognizes/knows/likes. This is a question of endurance and consistently finding ways to reinvent yourself and your show. Let’s not forget that you have to find something that no one else is doing, and then keep that constantly changing and expanding. Being new, being innovative and keeping doing it despite rocky starts.The possibility of guests, the popularity of your original show or how long you can do it are not guarantees to increase viewership.
  • If you are someone the community recognizes (but underachieving), your challenge is to remain relevant. To periodically push out material that reminds everyone that you’re still just as analytical/entertaining about the game as those who can still mechanically achieve it. I want to say that being at the top and remaining up there is easier than starting from the bottom up but I think that would be presumptuous. Then again, was there as much saturation of content in nearly all forms as there is now? I don’t think so, but there were also less possibilities or technology to do as much as we can do now…

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The diagram above is just a quick mock-up of how both sides’ challenges lead to similar end-goals, the start of one’s career is similar to a show hosts’ start of his webshow. For the host, the longer he is consistent in his content creation, the more his relevance and popularity to the community increases, so long as no mistakes are made (note the occasional drops; due to changed scheduled times, less popular guest, gaffes). For the community member, the longevity of one’s career extends more for each material released periodically (once in awhile). Their relevance and popularity also increases or decreases depending on similar aspects as the new content producer.

What’s unfortunate is that people who do come up with new and unique ways to reinvent what’s been done, often go unseen and miss their chance. For example, MLG’s “NFL” chalkboard-post-game analysis is actually a pretty cool concept. But, CecilSunkure did this last year (2011) in July, he just failed to capitalize on such a good idea. So what we’re seeing is “namesake” (public recognition in one’s name) and reach (how far and wide does he reach a general audience). MLG and CecilSunkure had the same idea, one year apart: MLG has the reach to take advantage of it and CecilSunkure didn’t have the time or dedication to follow-through and really publicize his idea.

On the community side of this predicament, they face the trouble of pushing away redundant subject mattersFor example, there are a lot of interviews where the interviewer has a rare opportunity to talk to some of the big names, but don’t really take advantage of the chance. You’ll see this after events: Three or four organizations will “chat” the same people and ask the same questions. The community has no way to filter these overlapping interviews unless they watch them all. This causes the community to end up sticking with interviewers they know to avoid watching repetitive content. So, on your side, content-creator, how do you get your interview to stand out, especially when you really hit something that no one else has. Here’s an example of said conundrum: SirScoots Interview; look how many people interviewed this intelligent, insightful and experienced man. The best ones, in my opinion are quite low in terms of views: D-Esports and WellPlayed.org. Even EdwardStarCraft has more hits and the reason(s)? Better timing of when it was posted? Not as long? Better microphone? It could be any number of things, different interests fills different folks.

As we stated before, people like what they know. This means relevant characters from 2011 or even 2010 remain in the spotlight while no webshow wants to pick up up-and-coming players. I reiterated this on Reddit a few weeks back on how no webshow wants to promote:

“There’s no show or anything to promote up-and-coming members or players [besides Nanman’s show which hasn’t been recently]. However, we just keep seeing the same people we saw in 2011 and even those in 2010 , relevant or not. It stalls a growing scene that is ever-changing, increasing, evolving. What was a foundational tournament or organization back then (WCG) is no longer so and thus you have new groups of aspiring organizers come and some go. But this change isn’t necessarily held true for people, so it makes it tough for newer people to fit in, to have a uniqueness that doesn’t overlap with a wide cast of amazing current members; and that really sucks for those trying.”

My solution was to ask Blizzard to start showcasing these people:

“I really think this is where Blizzard comes in, if shows like “Real Talk” and “Live on Three” bring in unheard names, they lose ratings and dip in priority for the average E-sports follower (potentially). There’s just no real reason or personal gain for them to go out of their way to find new people (they may want to at some point or another) when the established professionals net them views and hits that they need to maintain both relevance as well as interest. Blizzard is in a perfect position to have everything to gain by promoting new names (similar to when they made an article about female player Ailuj) and showing the rewards of being an E-sports contributor.”

There’s no one to blame about these circumstances between community interests, priority of shows and the main draws towards people’s curiosity. People just do what they like and this subculture is built around entertainment. It’s only natural that people follow their own personal enjoyments and stick with them.

The general underlining problem is that there are a lot of hurdles and aspects you need to commonly overcome to make your content stand apart. The traditional method is an approach that still holds true for the majority of those who started at the bottom, for those who are at the top and for those still trying. That in of itself creates an over-abundance of similar formatted content and with similar people (players, casters, major key leaders). Think of interviews, how many interviews have you seen of one particular person? How many of them do you remember that underlined something new about that person? How did you locate that particular interview? That’s the final exam for a a content-creator: you need to answer those questions for the audience and apply them to your work.

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