Esports, Whether Console or PC, Remains in a Precarious Position With Newcomers to the Industry
In recent years, gaming within the esports scene have risen in popularity. Millions of players are playing with the same vigor and passion for the game like professionals, or at least one would hope. I have personally been playing games like Overwatch, Paladins, and Smite since their launch on PC, but have recently switched to PS4 ever since my PC broke.
During my time on PC with these titles, I’ve generally had positive experiences to where everyone has the goal of winning like any professional team. We’d all form proper team compositions, talk strategies before the fight and then, if all went well, execute them. That’s pretty much the experience I’ve had with any competitive game on PC. Sure, I’ll occasionally get the tilted Torbjorn troll who’ll start running in head first and die immediately, but overall, I’ve had acceptable well played matches whether I win or lose. This really came thanks to the players who took their time to explain certain things to me about how these games work and not immediately rage at me for being level one.
Now let’s switch over to my time on PS4. Where there seems to be a strange disconnect over the idea of team play. People will pick all DPS characters with no supports or only one tank character. From my experience, console players only seem to play for themselves, which I can only conclude comes from the role of having to do everything yourself. Games like Call of Duty come to mind. Sure you play on a “team” but really you can only depend on yourself to win.
Sadly, that mindset has trickled down over on to more team-based games that rely on your teammates, such as Overwatch. That’s not to say it won’t work to your benefit. On rare occasions, I’ve been in games where I was the only tank and I had 5 DPS players and we still won to my surprise. Same goes for Paladins and Smite where my entire team is all DPS or all ranged carries. Ideally, situations like these aren’t fun for the 20-40 minutes you’re playing these matches as it can cause plenty of chaos and frustration when you’re not getting proper support.
How do these experiences translate to what we see as viewers on a professional level? Paladins and Smite have a professional console scene, but they aren’t as popular with the audiences who watch them. We’re used to seeing things like fighting game professional players such as SonicFox dominate the scene, only depending on his raw skill to win. At the end of the day, we all play games to have fun, but it never quite becomes fun in console games that require proper team play. A level of toxicity that goes generally unnoticed in the console world has been prevalent, as it’s pretty easy just to make a new account if you get banned on any of those titles.
Now let’s bring the entire esports audience we see as a whole into the light. Plenty of players aspire to make amazing plays like the professional scene. When looking at players at the console level, toxicity is almost accepted. Recently I watched a Call of Duty tournament on Twitch to find that the professional players are extremely aggressive toward each other. Yelling obscenities across the stage to each other seems to be normal for whatever reason.
It’s probably safe to say that same aggression is seen as okay for console Overwatch, Paladins, and Smite as no one seems to care to win and only want to individually prove they’re better through their stats and not a team win. That doesn’t put the PC esports scene in a safe spot by any means. There have been plenty of scandals through the years, almost allowing for inappropriate behavior across the entire scene.
Honestly, there’s going to be issues found in any esport, but the industry is now in a position to show it can be as legitimate as the NFL or NBA. Hopefully, audiences and pros can learn to show themselves in a positive light and show the world this industry is here to stay. Esports games that involve team play, especially on console, don’t call for the “I’m the carry” mentality that games like Call of Duty have given console players. Team based games on consoles could be vastly improved if we take certain steps that I see many PC players take, like being patient with newer players and show them the ropes. So many console players are used to being yelled at for no reason. It only takes a few seconds to explain to players why having two supports is beneficial to your team, or even the most efficient ways to utilize Orisa’s shield. These same new players will arrive in your ranked games later and could impact your own experience. The console scene, and overall esports scene, can grow if we can adopt a helpful mindset as opposed to doing everything on your own.
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