Blizzcon has come and gone. There was lots of LotV hype, despite the lag the WCS Finals had some great games but best of all it seems like Blizzard is actually listening to community feedback and reacting. HomeStory cup is coming up soon, SC2 viewership actually seems to be decently high compared to the recent past. Things are looking good.
From the outside.
There exists a lesser-talked about and not widely acknowledged problem that is both pervasive and incredibly toxic to the roots of our community and that's Organizer Burnout.
As much as it's great to see big events putting on great shows and giving out hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the EG's of the world giving out large salaries to people playing our game full time, there's a forgotten foundation of the "scene" - it's built on the backs of passionate volunteers. BasetradeTV puts in an absurd amount of hours and re-invests thousands of dollars into events for players and viewers out of love of what they do. Feardragon gives up a large sum of his own money (and an even larger sum of his time) multiple times a year to highlight up and coming players "Breaking Out". The SC2CTL was an endeavour of hundreds of hours of programming time and an equal number of hours organizing and broadcasting a show which all stemmed from the simple idea that I personally enjoy Team Leagues.
This isn't an eSports-specific phenomenon. Where hockey has the NHL there's infinitely more amateur and junior leagues run by volunteers dedicating their time and money so their friends - or their children - can simply enjoy the game.
But there is a related problem that is eSports-specific. Games like hockey, soccer, baseball - they're all heavily and firmly institutionalized into our culture. Children are (at least in Canada) required to play these games, and exercise and improve the related skills. I would find it absurd in any reasonably sized community to not have at least one organization playing soccer. But, at least when SC2CTL began, there simply wasn't a team league available for players around the skill level of my clan and myself.
We often, as a community, take for granted the absurd amount of work it takes to actually organize these types of events and leagues. I believe it's because of the multitude of "weekend" tournaments - we have so many of these events organized by professional organizations and it happens so often that we just come to expect events to occur often and with high production quality and great marketing. The ASL got shit on really heavily for having mediocre graphics. SC2CTL got shit on because there weren't constant large posts to Teamliquid/Reddit/Twitter/Facebook with rich content and advertising for each stream (multiple times a week, every week). And worst, people get banned from reddit for violating the 9:1 rule. This leads to a situation where organizers are forced to spend a significant amount of time creating rich reddit posts say, twice a week, but also make 18 other quality reddit posts irrelevant to themselves in the same time frame.
And organize an event. And broadcast and stream it. And make sure the quality of the experience for everyone involved is high. For free. In their spare time. With jobs.
And if you get unlucky and a bigger organization decides to schedule an event overlapping with yours after you've already put all your pieces into place, you're SOL. You lose. All your hard work was for nothing. It happened to LAG Gaming and they're gone now.
Passion can only get you so far with this. Every season of SC2CTL I've promised would be my last (and yet, I'm still coming back for more). Feardragon talked recently on remax about how he organizes the schedule for breaking out by simply doing it whenever he is not completely exhausted and burned out from the last one. Can you imagine what would happen if the Basetrade guys just couldn't do it anymore one day? 32 Boys, The Big One, Copa America, Dreamhack qualifiers, infinity others... events they organize would up and disappear. So many events rely on those guys to get a high-quality stream out their because they simply don't have the infrastructure.
MicroGamerZ disbanded just the other day - the given reason is that upper management got tired and went AWOL. Thankfully, they paid out their contracts, but overwhelmingly the responses were that they were a crappy team, with crappy management, only a matter of time, and good riddance, rabble, rabble.
What the fuck.
Is this what we, as community organizers have to look forward to? We put our heart and soul - and in MicroGamerZ's case - our money into this scene that we all love and when it gets to be too much we're criticized and flamed for not having the drive to continue? That's what happened to the orginal SCVRush crew, and the founder is gone from our scene now and the site is down. That is not a win in my books.
So, we've framed our problem:
- Advertising is a full time job, and we have an expectation that consistent and high quality advertising needs to fall on the shoulders of the event organizer
- Scheduling is hard. People don't communicate, and even between grassroots organization, events overlap constantly (I've competed with BaseTrade before, and lost)
- We, as a community, don't typically root for the success of organizations contributing. And we get a huge schadenfreude hardon when they fail.
What can be done about this?
Well, that's where you come in! Community organizers are going to keep bashing their head into the wall until we crack our skulls and our brains fall to the sidewalk. What you can do, is put a pillow over the bricks in front of us, and hopefully we'll live just a little bit longer and make the scene a better place for the rest of us.
- If you want to really support and help out and organization, let people know about them! Post upcoming events on reddit, if you use Twitter post it there. Comment on Team Liquid threads. This is all stuff that has to get done for an event, and when other's help us out (especially with 9:1) we can focus on what we're good at and what benefits everyone the most: running a great event.
- Exercise a little positivity. I'm guilty of this. I've had my less-than-perfect public spats with the BaseTrade guys before. I've sat watching the Team Liquid live events viewer numbers and rooted for BaseTrade to be lower than others. That was dumb, and it hurts everyone when we root for others to fail.
- Scheduling, well if you're a big organization you can, for fucks sake, communicate what you're planning (thanks Dreamhack <3!). But that's not the majority of us. But for the remainder of us smaller, community organizations, we need to plan a little better what will be going on in the future. I believe I have a solution for that...
Introducing the League of Extraordinary SC2 Organizers
To solve these problems, I've created the League of Extraordinary SC2 Organizers which is, essentially, two mailing lists.
The first mailing list, is a private one between the community organizers in Starcraft 2. This will allow a one-stop shop to communicate with other organizers and resolve things like timing and player conflicts. It will allow for sharing of ideas and resources, so instead of every organizer going it alone and duplicating efforts, we can combine and become more efficient as a group.
The second mailing list is a public one for the entire community. Up-and-coming casters looking for their event to shine, sponsors looking to pitch in funds to an event and community members looking to help with anything at all from advertising to moral support will have a single point of contact to the best of the community tournament organizers.
You can find The SC2 League over here: http://thesc2league.com.
I hope that we can all attempt to work together and help each other out just a little bit more. Doing so will make the Starcraft Community stronger and more enjoyable for everyone.