Pax East 2013 eSports Panel
By Shannon Doyle (Leliah), OnRPG Elder Scribe
We arrived nearly 40 minutes early expecting huge lines for the Wargaming hosted eSports panel. Twenty minutes into when the panel was supposed to begin and there were about 30 of still waiting. That was when the PAX Enforcers let us know why we were still standing around. The panelists weren’t there. In fact no one knew where they were! We had been expecting Jeremy Monroe, General Manager of Wargaming America, and Caleb Fox (aka lord_farquad), Head of eSports at Wargaming America. Instead we were invited to go in and sit, and even discuss the topic on hand if we wanted. Four men jumped at the opportunity to sit in the panelist chairs for what turned into a discussion on all things eSports.
Topics discussed ranged from the legitimacy of eSports as a serious competitive sport on the same level as more popular sports to ways to make eSports more accessible to the masses. It was generally agreed by all that right now eSports are becoming more mainstream but there are still hurdles to overcome.
The theory was put forth that if people grew up with the exposure to eSports as most currently grow up exposed to baseball or football that there would be more interest in it and expansion would happen faster. This would be the key to getting rid of the view that eSports aren’t a real sport. An exhibitor in the crowd pointed out that right now eSports aren’t inviting to people who don’t know about the game being played. He used the example of his wife not sitting down to watch a match of League of Legends like she would a major sports event. And as a result he is less likely to watch it as well.
Firefall was mentioned as one of the upcoming eSports titles to watch. This comes thanks to the unique integrated broadcasting abilities that Red 5 have highlighted from early on in the development process.
It was also suggested that the eSports participants themselves need to get more involved. Loyalty breeds the desire to watch. If a fan has no interaction with the person they’re so fond of there is less likely to be interest and that means they’re less likely to continue to watch or to pay to attend eSporting events. So basically the athletes need to take advantage of their celebrity through things like Twitter or Youtube to feed their celebrity status and help it grow.
A lot of very interesting ideas came out of this small gathering of fans. It was a shame that the Wargaming panelists weren’t there but out of the ashes came a jewel of a discussion. The four impromptu panelists did an amazing job considering they had walked into the room as fans meaning to watch two experts in the field discuss the future of eSports. Whatever the future of eSports will be I look forward to seeing if any of the ideas put forth at the panel actually happen. Or perhaps Wargaming’s attendance and the mostly empty room says more about the future of eSports than what was said at the panel? Only time will tell.