Competitive Gaming and gaming, in general, are rapidly evolving, ever-revolutionizing mediums. Mediums like competitive gaming that not only share an obvious relationship with their source but also move with their own sub-cultural idiosyncrasies and characteristics.
ESports is a genre unto itself, with its own hard-earned, self-maintained levels of popularity. And with the Yin of popularity, comes the unpredictable Yang of trends. Spikes and dips in common thought, that see differing mindsets take dotted prominence throughout a hobby’s lifespan.
Trends: eSports Games
In eSports, these mindsets take shape in the most core way possible: what is played. Our Korean gamer counterparts seem to have found a stability mostly safe from these trends in the arms of one true dominator for the field, Starcraft.
Westerners, however, are in the thralls of these trends. We’re at the mercy of our whimsies, and as such, we lurch back and forth between different competitive games. Had you arrived on the scene in the late 2000’s, you might have witnessed first-person shooter titans the likes of Halo and Call of Duty dominating the scene.
Hop in your handy time machine, and skip ahead a few years, and you’ll see a jarring upheaval in the landscape. Halo and CoD haven’t gone anywhere, but their position has been ceded to the ever-popular MOBA games that now stand unshakably atop the competitive gaming mountain.
And on top of this – to punctuate the point of the spinning door that eSports is – even these competitive games, currently firmly in the spotlight, display little consistency. Different entries of its genre popping in and out of vogue as time goes by.
MOBA Games & Shooters
League of Legends is the one true shining stalwart that arguably kicked off the whole golden run for MOBAs, but SMITE’s ascension has been nothing short of meteoric. And with its wildly different play-style, that stands as testament to the genre’s versatility, SMITE has definitely rocketed into position as an immediate heavyweight and directly confronted League of Legends, as well as DOTA 2.
Compound this slew of games with the fact that we may even be primed to see a renaissance for shooters with Overwatch imminent and whirling up its own tempest, and you should really be getting a picture of the fiercely fluid field that eSports is.
But let’s toss aside the analysis for a second; let’s move past the brief history lesson and turn collective gaze forward. However this novel format arose, or the path it took there, here, we attempt to deliberate something more important…
Where Could Competitive Gaming Go Next?
I don’t mean purely what game could perch itself atop the field– my personal money would be on Overwatch, for what it’s worth – I mean something more pivotal, of greater scope and importance. I mean what could be the next chapter authored in the book of eSports and gaming competitions?
To discern the future competitive gaming, we need only peer into the past, towards another genre of games that would make a perfect fit for the eSports gaming competitions. They experienced their own boom period, followed by a cruel drop-off as gaming advanced, seemingly leaving them behind.
To give a brief description of the genre’s fundamentals, in the typical artillery game, you would be moving your unit into position, posing your arc, angle and velocity, then raining down fire upon your opponent in a vie to turn everything into a five mile radius around them into a smoldering pile of rubble. It’s as simple and easy to grasp as it sounds, but it bears greater depth that this primitive explanation would infer.
They boast standouts like Worms, Gunbound, and even – proving that they have the ability to shatter the horizontal mould and still retain their unique experience – the third-person, endearing cult hit, Hogs of War.
Simply put, worlds of unexcavated potential in a competitive environment lie within them. Potential that sadly goes to waste, as the concept sits on the shelf, collecting its undeserved share of dust.
The level of forethought, planning and strategy artillery games offer isn’t at all alien to your average MOBA addict, albeit in a more controlled setting. But, looking at the evolutionary path of eSports, is that not precisely the route we’ve been taking thus far?
From the blazing action of first-person shooters to the more coordinated and pre-planned manoeuvring of MOBAs in all their forms. We’ve taken a step from the immediately captivating, to the calm and moderated.
This isn’t to say that shooters possess no strategic merit of their own, or that an MOBA lacks its slice of hectic action when the situation calls for it, but the changes in playstyle to these stated effects is undeniable.
Slowing Down The Pace
So if you were to ask me – and, considering you’ve made it this far into my ramblings, let’s just hope you care enough to – a further deceleration to reflect these mutations seems a likely, if not very attractive course to charter. Slowing the pace, and emphasising controlling your encounters, These are the qualities we seem to be gradually shifting towards, and they’re the core strengths that artillery games revolve around.
Coupling with this, a commendable amount of versatility is carried within these strategic games, as well. Just as the prominent genres – Shooters, MOBAs, and Real Time Strategy games – gloat the necessary subsets to promote a diverse array of games, allowing them to remain competitively fresh, so too do artillery games.
Various games cement their ability to leap from the usual, horizontal confines these games usually find themselves attributed to, and into a fully realised, three-dimensional plane of movement and gameplay.
So, what do you think? Is all of this plausible, or, to take it a step further, an actual likelihood? Or just the meanderings of someone who deposited a few too many hours into Hogs of War in his younger years?
If you take nothing else from this article, let it be that you, too, should venture to the nearest bargain bin and find a copy of that PS2-era gem – you haven’t quite lived until you’ve heard a very British pig insulting a swine before he reduces him to a roast with a bazooka.