Starcraft 2 and the e-sports eco-system, part 3

In the third post of this series, I want to discuss how Starcraft 2 is interrelated with web social media.

The original Starcraft was born pre Google, blogs, and of course Youtube and Facebook. Starcraft 2 was developed through the years of the web 2.0 scene. This led to both in-game designs that incorporate web 2.0 (Facebook integration with user accounts), and more broadly, community developments that heavily utilize social media innovations.

Not all the community building is done by Blizzard. There is the obligatory Facebook fan page and Twitter account, but I wouldn’t say Blizzard has done an outstanding job at either (50k followers on Twitter is nothing to boast about, I’d say). What’s really interesting is the self-motivated and extremely enthusiastic gamers who are creating vibrant media content on top of the game.

For example, a number of “shoutcasters” have emerged as celebrities within the community (shoutcasting refers to live commentary on spectator video games, similar to sports announcers). One of the most famous such shoutcasters, Sean “Day[9]” Plott, even hosts a “Day[9] Daily” show, where he does hour-long shows announcing games and teaching strategies. Another shoutcaster, “HuskyStarcraft”, has quietly amassed over 100MM views on his Youtube account and has over 300k Youtube subscribers. He’s even branched off from pure shoutcasting to do the following parody music video, which has 3.5MM views:

Further more, gamers have strongly embraced streaming technology to livecast community competitions, or even just self-casting (where a player – usually a very good one – casts himself playing Starcraft 2). At any given point in time, video games are generally some of the top-viewed content on Justin.tv, ustream.tv and livestream.com. For Starcraft 2 fans, Teamliquid.net (the website of a professional Starcraft team) offers a convenient one-stop shop to see what streams are live at any time. Teamliquid also hosts a wiki site where players can view and document advanced gaming strategies.┬áThere have also emerged dedicated gaming streaming sites (own3d.tv), and dedicated Starcraft 2 casting sites (such as ragequit.tv, glhf.tv).

What I find interesting is that for sites such as Justin.tv and ustream.tv, which are usually popularized by pirated content (illegal rebroadcasts of live TV), gaming streams offer an attractive type of fully legal content. (Well, at least until the game studios start banning such gaming streams, which at least currently they are not doing as it’s free promotion for the games.) More importantly, such community media will strongly reinforce the popularity of the game, and help maintain its relevance. If Starcraft could last close to 14 years now and still be played around the world (a dinosaur of a game by video game industry standards), then Starcraft 2 could certainly hope for the same type of longevity with such community building.

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