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Why TV is Better Than Games

Why TV is Better Than Games

Wed 09 May 2012 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
Media

Why not apply some of the lessons learned from TV to games, asks Mark Sorrell?

TV, is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think that videogames are pretty big, but that's just peanuts compared to TV.

Very roughly, videogames are worth maybe $60 billion a year, worldwide. Movies are about $50 billion and music perhaps $40 billion. TV is worth $300 billion a year. $300 billion. So TV is twice as big as videogames, movies and music put together. Well done TV. In your face, videogames.

But TV is shit, right? It's some archaic way of pushing hot guffs of entertainment out into a largely uncaring universe full of fat people on sofas, in track-pants, eating crisps. The internet will kill it before the end of the afternoon, we'll all be getting everything via video-on-demand and social search, beamed directly to our iPads, and all broadcasters will be broken-up for scrap and whatever's left over will be thrown into the sea.

"Video games glitch and break. They're buggy, and if you're playing anything more traditional than Angry Birds, they require some knowledge of formats and controllers"

No, nope, wrong, TV is brilliant and it won't be going anywhere for a very long time indeed.

TV is a cultural phenomenon. It's not a piece of technology. Inventor Danny Hillis described technology perfectly as 'things that don't work yet'. TV is not technology. It just works. You press a button and television happens. You press the same button later and TV stops happening.

Video games are definitely technology. They glitch and break, are buggy, and if you're playing anything more traditional than Angry Birds, require some knowledge of formats and controllers and tropes and I could go on. I could mention PSN if you're not convinced. Time spent watching TV is going up, and it's going up faster than time spent playing video games. And remember, economically, TV is six times bigger than video games.

So we're all agreed then, TV is great, Games are rubbish. Well, no-one has actually told TV. Those guys are still all pretty convinced that games - being the new kid on the block and having all that engagement and all those revenues and that whole social thing and the crazy mobile thing and the stuff with fremium - are the future and thus TV must be afraid and then copy games and steal from games. TV people reckon that maybe they should be doing some, hmm, some kind of adding bits from games to TV. Hmm.

And so to gamification. The view of gamification from the video game world is one of open scorn and derision. Pointsification. Badgification. Adding the most ephemeral of gaming's accouterments to whatever it is you want to hawk to the plebs and call it a day.

The video game world is largely right. The main problems with the gamification concept are that a) it is supported largely by people who work in marketing and hence don't know anything at all about anything at all and b) it has nothing whatsoever to do with games.

Gamification is often described as 'adding game-like elements to things that are not games'. That's not really what it is at all. Those game-like elements aren't anything to do with games, they are behavioural economics. Normal economics believes that people are rational and act in their own self interest, and then goes off on one from there. That is, sadly for economics, not true. Behavioural economics makes no such assumptions. It's the study of what people actually do. The study of the world as it is, not the way we wish it were.

Behavioural economics is what powers all that fremium stuff, that social stuff that make games so more enticing than TV in the first place. Not game mechanics. Engagement, fremium, social - all behavioural mechanics in tooth and claw. Games are very good at behavioural economics, but game mechanics aren't behavioural economics.

"Games need risks to make them feel rewarding and failure is not the kind of thing that marketeers want their brand to be associated with"

The other big issue with gamification is that even when it really actually is using actual game mechanics actually, it does so very badly. Games need risks to make them feel rewarding and failure is not the kind of thing that marketeers want their brand to be associated with. And because, as discussed, marketeers are awful and terrible in every way that a person can be, they didn't even bother to learn the first bloody thing about what a game is in the first place. There are, by my count, eight people in the entire world who understand games properly and I'm entirely sure that none of them work in marketing.

But wait. Let's remember the whole thing about $300 billion for a moment. If games have something to teach TV, Benjamin Franklin reckons that TV has six times that many things to say to games. If you wanted to learn from TV, if you wanted to add TV-like elements to things that are not TV, if you wanted to do some telification, you wouldn't want to make the same errors of presumed knowledge and the same awful assumptions that gamification proponents made. If video games are going to learn from TV, we're going to have to actually learn from TV and not something that can be easily mistaken for TV by idiots, right?

So what is TV in the first place? Like, really?

TV can be thought of as three different things. Firstly, the box that sits on your wall. TV the physical item. Then there's TV as in the kind of content you watch on your TV. The soap opera, the sitcom, the reality show. Ways of formatting linear video to extract maximum human drama and space for ad breaks. Lastly, there's the medium itself, the scheduled, broadcast of linear video. Box. Format. Medium.

It's this last definition that's the one that's the most interesting to videogames. Video games have already made the biggest impact to the TV box that it's ever experienced, simply by existing. You plug your videogame console into your TV and suddenly your TV has an entirely new function. A function worth $60 billion a year, let's not forget.

TV formats correlate reasonably well with video game genres.

Where TV and video games diverge dramatically is in the way they work as a medium. TV has three core features - it's scheduled, it's broadcast and it's passive. Video games do none of these things.

Sure, some video games are linear experiences, some of them to a stultifying degree, but they're not scheduled. At 8pm it might well be time for Eastenders, and we might all be cool with that, but the idea of 8pm being time for Zelda is ridiculous to most people. And that's not just because 8:00pm is blatantly time for Gran Tursimo.

Why's that then? One of the best things about TV is the fact that you don't have to choose what you want to watch. You just turn the sucker on and it blasts colours and shapes, some of which might be moving, straight down your eyeholes. It's easy. Video games make you actually get up off the couch and choose what you want to play and then put a disc in a black machine that is probably going to break soon. What the hell, people? Have you any idea what kind of day I had at work today? I can't be bothered to feed myself, I certainly can't be bothered to actually choose how to be entertained.

And broadcast. Games aren't broadcast. Sure you can play with your friends, if you got enough of them and you're playing an MMO, you can get maybe 25 people playing along at the same time. Great, well done. In 2011, 111.3 million people watched the Superbowl. We share gaming experiences, sure we do, but the scale on which we do so is infinitesimally small compared to TV.

"111 million people watched the Superbowl. We share gaming experiences, but the scale on which we do so is infinitesimally small compared to TV"

So as far as I can tell, the biggest source of traffic on twitter is news. The second is TV. That makes a lot of sense. Twitter is a broadcast medium. If you want to speak to a whole bunch of people you don't really know very well, then the experiences you've all shared would be a pretty obvious place to start. So making a joke about how David Cameron looks like a penis with a face drawn on it will work because the audience know who he is! Also, it is true.

In much the same way, we can tweet about TV and everyone else who is watching the same thing at the same time can GET INVOLVED IN THE CONVERSATION. This is social proof, and social proof on a grand scale. This, again, is behavioral economics. And compared to TV, video games are shit at it.

So why not maybe give it a try. Maybe try sticking some video games in a schedule, broadcast them to your audience. See how it feels to know you're playing exactly the same thing as a million other people at exactly the same time. See how that feels? $300 billion says it feels pretty good.

Mark Sorrell is development producer for games and broadcast at Somethin' Else. You can follow him on Twitter @sorrell

31 Comments

Peter Howell
Studying Ph.D Research Programme - Computer Games Technology

8 0 0.0
Having read numerous articles and massively stuffy journal articles on gamification and the like, it is nice to read something that takes a different angle on the matter. Thoroughly enjoyable read!

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
The big things here is monetisation. TV grew up as the marketing arm of detergent and tobacco companies or as the mouthpiece of the state. The BBC receives a hypothecated tax and its job was to be a propaganda tool for the socialist post war consensus.

Against this sort of income the discretionary spend that the game industry relies on will always suffer in comparison.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,339 0.9
Ways of formatting linear video to extract maximum human drama and space for ad breaks
For me, this is the most interesting thing about TV. You look at some of the best pieces of TV - BSG, Castle, Mad Men, The Wire - and find story-telling and dialogue that put games to shame. If we should take away anything from TV, it should be multi-episode story-arcs that leave the viewer/player wanting more. How many sequels are released where we just don't care what happens? How many ignore the previous game in the series (DA2, I'm looking at you)? How many use tired story-telling cliches and god-awful voice-acting? Jennifer Hale can only appear in so many games at once.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Mark Kelly
Games/Level Designers

10 1 0.1
I have a feeling that the 'scheduling' comments at the end of this article might be flippant, but 1 vs 100 Live wouldn't have worked (or have been much other than another also-ran casual quiz game) were it not for the scheduled times it could be played, with everyone playing the same thing.

I do wonder how this could be transposed into a less directly competitive/not TV-licenced format, though- I can't imagine something like Meat Boy or Zelda (or even Angry Birds) working in a scheduled form without the pace of the game being dominated by a small handful of elite players and/or effectively being eSports coverage.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Mark Sorrell
Game Director/Development Producer

10 0 0.0
They were in no way flippant, except the bits that are clearly jokes. WoW raids are scheduled, after all.

There's definitely some interesting questions about which games work in a 'you have precisely 10 minutes - no more no less' kind of way.

There would be no problem integrating linear advertising into a sequence of scheduled games. And you'd have some sweet demographic information to boot.

Games aren't about telling human drama, and in my opinion, shouldn't try. When it comes to human drama and games, they are about creating it, not telling it. The player's story is the important one, not the game designer's. Games don't need to be Mad Men. They need to be really, really great games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mark Sorrell on 9th May 2012 11:41am

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,339 0.9
The player's story is the important one, not the game designer's
Very very true. But what about RPGs? Horror games? Both those genres (and there's a lot of games in those genres) require good (if not excellent) writing and dialogue. Half-Life 2 is an excellent example of leaving a story-line on a cliff-hanger, in the same way TV does. Harking back to the article on storytelling here yesterday, games need good writing, it's just some need it more than others.
Games aren't about telling human drama... Games don't need to be Mad Men.
Games can be about human drama. What is Heavy Rain if not an interactive dramatic play, for example? Certainly, not all games need to be like Mad Men, but equally not all games need to be like MW3 or BF3.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 9th May 2012 12:03pm

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Mark Sorrell
Game Director/Development Producer

10 0 0.0
Well games can do a whole bunch of stuff, to be sure. It's easy to forget we use the same word for 'game' in the sense of a disc you buy in a shop with cut-scenes and graphics and DLC and 'game' in the sense of the game-mechanics in the middle of the disc you bought in a shop. I tend to mean the latter.

Heavy Rain was complete and utter shit and only serves to prove my point. Half-life 2's story is an embarrassment to the word 'story' although the world it is set in is pretty pleasing. The good bits of 'story' it does contain are environmental - the couple crying on the sofa, the child's toy , etc.

I'd argue that neither RPGs nor Horror games 'require' good writing. It's just an unexamined assumption. Rogue is a great RPG - one of the best - and has some context but basically no story. Horror as a genre is entirely a case of context, Survival on the other hand is as well expressed by Pacman and Geometry Wars as it is Resident Evil. In fact, much better. Because there's no dumbass story getting in the way.



I should do some work.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Thomas Dolby
Project Manager / Lead Programmer

335 283 0.8
If anything, TV is moving away from the broadcast format. On-demand services are on the up: BBC iPlayer, 4 on Demand, Netflix and many more, not to mention the amount of people that record shows with Sky+, Tivo etc.

I'm not going to try and pretend that TV is dying, but the broadcast format certainly is. There will always be a market for the people that don't care what they watch, but you can't ignore the shift in the way TV is moving. So the one major point from this article from what I can gather, which is the broadcast format, is the least relevant if you ask me.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Mark Sorrell
Game Director/Development Producer

10 0 0.0
Broadcast is a cultural artifact. As is the schedule that goes hand in hand with it. If you're under 10, maybe even under 20, then there's a reasonable chance you never got into the broadcast rhythm and hence wouldn't ever miss it.

But if you're much over that age, likely you have been 'infected'. I'd predict broadcast TV's lifespan to be at least 20 and likely nearer 40 years.

It's also worth pointing out that the kind of TV watched on VoD services and pirated tend towards the big dramas, comedies and other formats that don't lend themselves to schedules in the first place.

It is also worth pointing out that most of the folks on gi.bz are, by definition, game hobbyists, not TV hobbyists and are thus likely to be used to on-demand rather than scheduled entertainment.


All this said, it doesn't change the behavioural economics at the heart of the argument. Doing the same thing as a million other people, at the same time, has a hugely powerful behavioural effect. Social media amplify this effect massively. What happens if you present games in this fashion?

We could well find out that broadcast and schedules were never the 'problem' that technologists identify them as. Or we could find out that I am entirely full of shit.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
Multi-episode is fine but, can't compete with TV. If each episode takes months to get to the viewer then they will loose interest and we are back to less than square one.

It would be the equivalent of those cinema buck rogers black and white serials trying to compete with todays hi-def weekly series of The Wire or Dexter. To even start to go in that direction we need to start getting production under control. A series in an episodic game would have the assets and scenes created from day one and simply spend the remaining weeks re-using these sets and areas and creating small interactive movies effectively.

It's a whole new way of working and thinking and I'm not sure that established studios would even get the plot.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

187 618 3.3
I get the feeling that mechanics like the ClashMobs in Infinity Blade 2 are kind of heading towards this. Play whenever you want, but if you come online at the appointed time you can take part in something much bigger and more social.

Posted:2 years ago

#11
"We share gaming experiences, sure we do, but the scale on which we do so is infinitesimally small compared to TV."

Absolutely. It's been a gamers dream since at least the launch of EverQuest to eventually play with 'everyone' in the way we communally consume TV, but we haven't moved the bar much on maximum concurrent players. Passive streaming of content can deliver one aspect of the shared experience, effectively putting my POV into a seat in the Colosseum, but we still lack the critical sense of participation we find in a good game. It's this bright line between watching (with a potentially limitless horde)and doing (with a small band compatriots) of that divides games and TV most thoroughly.

Increasing the potential crowd size is not an insurmountable challenge, just an expensive one, and we seem to be stuck waiting for someone to invest the capital to solve the problems.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Murray Lorden
Game Designer & Developer

199 72 0.4
I agree strongly with what you're saying here. The take away from TV is great writing, good voice acting, stories where we actually care, and want to know what happens next.

I want to make an episodic story driven game that is experienced more like getting into bed and reading a book. It's not a massive challenge to play. It's mainly about the story, the characters, and navigating through that story, guiding it. And I don't mean like Dear Esther, where there's no game. Have some strong mechanics, and those mechanics are used to push the story forwards. I don't think iPad games, for example, need to be 10 hours long. Give me 1 hour of great interactive story, and I'll give you $1. :)

I don't have much time for games in my busy life, but I'll delightedly make an hour a week to watch Game of Thrones, because it's doing everything right.

And now that I'm in my thirties, I'm finding myself really just wanting to have a game like Game of Thrones. Concentrate on the characters and the story, the plot and intrige, and keep the battles short and to the point. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Mark Sorrell
Game Director/Development Producer

10 0 0.0
Are you talking to me with this bit?

"I agree strongly with what you're saying here. The take away from TV is great writing, good voice acting, stories where we actually care, and want to know what happens next."

If you are, that is the exact opposite of what I am saying. I reckon the Game of Thrones game you're looking for is the TV series Game of Thrones.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,339 0.9
I think he was agreeing with me. :p

The problem with your anti-writing point of view is that it limits the emotional give-and-take that games can impart. Whilst i don't like it, Final Fantasy 7 is a good example. The death of Aeris is an emotional turning point that provides the player and the character with an impetus to finish the story. Had the story and dialogue been worse, the game would've suffered. It could be argued that that scene is actually quite television-inspired - it comes across as the gaming equivalent of a season cliffhanger.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 9th May 2012 5:44pm

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Hugo Trepanier
Senior UI Designer

156 144 0.9
Why would anyone in their right mind try to force players into a rigid, defined schedule? The opposite is precisely why gaming is more convenient: you can decide to play whenever you want with the garantee of an instantaneous and satisfying experience (provided you have enough games in your collection).

Scheduled events can be interesting, such as organised Double XP weekends, or when a group of friends decides to collectively join an online match at a set time. However, such things are optional and I don't think scheduling everything would make gaming better as a whole.

As for episodic content, it needs to be delivered rapidly. I'm with Peter on this one. Take Half-Life 2 for instance: it took so long in between Episodes 1 and 2 that I completely lost interest to the point of never even playing Ep2 (heck I can't even remember how Ep1 ended).

Telltale's first episode of The Walking Dead was awesome but I can't be sure I'll still be hooked in 3 months when so many other great titles will fight for my attention and wallet. Television makes you wait one week for a new episode, until we can match that I don't think we have a serious contender.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Eric J Stover
Studying Interactive Design and Game Development

2 0 0.0
I feel like comparing games to TV as you do here is like comparing Super Mario Bros to Gears of War by looking at the 40.24 million vs 5 million copies sold only.

Fanboy debating aside, there's so much more going on there than just looking at those numbers. TV had a 30 year lead on video games and was accepted in the mainstream much quicker, with every home having a TV, while video games were largely a hobby or kid activity until recently. Video games are still a growing industry while television is having to compete more and more for peoples' attention. I can't remember the last time I watched something on my TV that was scheduled. Suggesting scheduling a video game? One of the highlights of gaming is the pick up and go, of jumping into a match while on break.

And in regards to twitter, if I tweet right now about the ending of Mass Effect 3, everyone who has played the game will get involved in the conversation. You want to watch video games with a bunch of people at the same time? Well there's MLG for that, so you can talk about what just happened in that Starcraft match going on half way around the world.

It's not on the same scale of TV, sure, but calling games shit when they're still a growing industry working its way into every home and aspect of our lives? I'm not buying it.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Mark Sorrell
Game Director/Development Producer

10 0 0.0
We're very serious kitties today, aren't we?

I don't think Half Life 2, when I think mainstream games. I think Angry Birds and Farmville. SMB v GoW is a great comparison when it comes to 'mainstream'. SMB has like, maybe one button. GoW has over 9000 buttons, sticks and triggers to navigate. Also, I think it is very bad, but that's just me.

And 6,995,000,000 other people.

I don't think the speed of production is an issue. The kind of games that would fit this concept are not going to be the sort of thing it takes more than about five seconds to learn the rules of, and sensible developers would make them largely procedural, precisely to stave off the production flow issues.

It seems most of your complaint comes from a rather limited view of what a game is. And, indeed, what a mainstream audience looks like.

It's also pretty important to point out that I'm no proposing that this is THE ONLY WAY games should be served up, just that it has the potential to be another cool and interesting one.

You may now return to your XBoxes.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,339 0.9
So... iOS games writ large, on TV? Well, that would explain your attitude to writing in games. :)

I don't doubt there is the chance to make something of this, but a couple of points:

1) The simpler the games, the quicker people will tire of them. There's a reason why well-written drama rates higher than Eastenders.

2) There's not that many games people will watch even in a social setting. Most party games rely on outside factors to make them interesting. Try watching a simple game that a friend is playing, sober. It's damn boring. Shared behaviour only goes so far, I think.

Edit to add:
SMB v GoW is a great comparison when it comes to 'mainstream'. SMB has like, maybe one button. GoW has over 9000 buttons, sticks and triggers to navigate
I don't get what you're saying with this comment. Do you mean that, because, SMB is simpler, it'll get more people playing or watching it? Because, to be honest, arguing that a game will get more players because it's got a simpler control scheme is quite a flawed argument. It disregards whether the game is any good, for start, and also whether the game is interesting to watch.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 9th May 2012 11:34pm

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Bryce Hunter
Producer

10 2 0.2
Who are the eight?

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Morville
1) Simple games, like draughts and gomoku, have not tired people over thousands of years. Eastenders has more viewers than just about every well written drama in the UK.
2) People do watch games in a social setting. There are plenty of YouTube videos which have had masses of views with people playing Wii games. And Micro Machines was the after pub entertainment for a whole generation of students, who took it in turns to play and to watch.

What matter with a game is that it provides its player with entertainment. For the vast majority of people this just means fun. A billion Angry Birds is all the proof you need. Yes there are a minority of people who are core gamers and who play complex games. But these people are not the vast majority in our society. These reasons are why the Wii so massively outperformed the HD consoles.

Getting back to TV. The advantage that games have are threefold.
1) Games are interactive.
2) Games are non linear.
3) Games are connected.

The advantages that TV has are threefold.
1) Inertia. They are the established box in every living room.
2) Money. They have lots of it from advertisers and governments.
3) Passive experience. A lot of people want this.

Games are only now becoming truly mass market in the world. And this is quite simply because we are riding on the back of the ubiquity of smartphones. In terms of number of players smartphones already outperform all consoles put together.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,339 0.9
@ Bruce

1) There's a difference between simple games, and games with simple mechanics, I think. Draughts has a simple mechanic, but layers of complexity with moves and a specific end-game. Super Meat Boy (to use the example above) is a simple game with a simple number of moves, and a simple end-game.

Using Eastenders was a bad example (I knew it would come back and bite me. :p ). My point is that well-written drama can gain as many viewers as Eastenders; as with TV, why not games? Is there an unwritten rule that people will only watch/play simple games? I'm not saying "Don't have simple games at all", but rather "Have simple games and complex ones too". This is a point which Sorrell disregards because of his stance that writing in games is irrelevant to the amount of fun had.

2) The problem with your example is you don't have the demographic mix of those people watching Youtube videos. They might all be students bored of Countdown, so need to fill their days with sometehing else. I'm also not saying people don't watch games at all
Try watching a simple game that a friend is playing
I wouldn't class Micro Machines as simple; again, see my differentiation of simple games and simple mechanics.
What matter with a game is that it provides its player with entertainment
This is true. But just because it provides a player with entertainment, does not mean that people will want to watch/play it in a shared social behaviour situation.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th May 2012 9:21am

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Mark Sorrell
Game Director/Development Producer

10 0 0.0
'Watching' games is a distraction here. I'm not proposing anyone would watch this kind of medium, they would play it. That's what you do with games, right? At least, there would be no more need to ensure the experience was good to watch than there is a traditional console game. In fact possibly less, as you wouldn't need to sell the thing off the back of fancy graphics in an advert.

If you want passive, wait for the next piece.

Morville, your definition of 'simple' seems largely impenetrable. Why is Micro Machines not simple, but Super Meat Boy is?

Lastly, this isn't an either/or thing and nor is it a competition between TV and games. It's an observation of some of the behavioural upside to the lack of choice coupled with social proof that scheduled, broadcast content brings.

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,536 1,339 0.9
Why is Micro Machines not simple, but Super Meat Boy is?
I actually don't know. Perhaps just point-of-view? I was wondering this just after I clicked "post". Perhaps because of the competitive behaviour of the game? SMB revolves around completing levels of a platform game - the only thing you're competing against is the level design. MM is a racing game, which means competing against level design and AI/Human players. I accept it's a weird argument. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th May 2012 10:38am

Posted:2 years ago

#24
I just read the article and wondered why Mark doesn't mention eSports when it comes to compare games and TV. It made me curious and I would like to inform you about a booming phenomenon that is going around all over the world. I speak about live streaming of eSports events (competetive gaming).

We are running a huge Web-TV-Channel (ESL TV) which is cooperating with the California based company TwitchTV (JustinTV).

You find further information in the links below the short news.

ESL TV breaks records
During all five days of the eSports action in hall 23 at CeBIT, ESL TV, ESL's web TV service, together with the world's best video game broadcasting network, TwitchTV, were broadcasting the competition live and in nine languages (English, German, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Chinese, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese). At its peak, more than 267,000 were watching the event at www.esl.tv. The tournament has generated more than 16 million sessions and attracted around 2,965,000 unique viewers.

http://turtle-entertainment.com/?press¤t_press_release&1525

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Posted:2 years ago

#25

Mark Sorrell
Game Director/Development Producer

10 0 0.0
Because in eSports, the majority of the audience is watching, not playing.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Daniel McLaren
Lead Game Designer

2 0 0.0
Oh man. Here we go talking about why apples are FAR superior to oranges.

Let's be honest here, TV is a $600 billion a year industry because it has an ENORMOUS market penetration--Goodness, even people in Afghanistan CAVES have TV. TV is EVERY WHERE. Literally. Everywhere. Couple this with ease of creation. Ever hear how there's nothing on TV? Well there IS, it's just not in the time slot you're watching. It's VASTLY inexpensive (compared to games) and about 100,000 times EASIER AND MORE EFFICIENT to create content for television than for a video game. In fact, you could probably create an entire NETWORK (*cough*CurrentTV*cough*) for less than the cost of a AAA title.

I get the whole "technology" argument, but that's NOT what's holding people back. So Danny Hillis is (effectively) saying that if we got games to the point of TV (push-a-button, receive gameplay), that we'd be a cultural phenomenon? Please, we already ARE a phenomenon. You MIGHT be able to argue that we're a niche phenomenon comparatively, but you can't denounce the impact gaming has had in the past 15 years. Making games less "buggy" isn't what's going to drive our numbers through the roof.

Simply put, what's going to change gaming is the death of the top 2 or 3 generations of people (you know them, the ones where technology is still "new" to them) and the rise of the generation born after the Xbox was in more homes than laptops. THAT'S what's going to change everything.

So what that 111 million people watched the Superbowl? IT'S FREE AND IT'S REQUIRES NO EFFORT. 630 MILLION people BOUGHT Call of Duty. That cost $60 and requires hours and hours of concentrated effort. As I stated above, you're comparing apples and oranges and saying that apples will always be MORE RED than oranges. You ignore the fact that games aren't trying to "take over" TV, but that they are a cultural phenomenon all on their own.

You also ignore the fact that the 30-and-younger crowds are watching less and less TV and pushing to "cut the cord". You, instead, mix two very different sets of generations together to make an argument that games should be like TV. The sad thing is, even if you did, you still wouldn't capture 55+, one of the largest TV consumers in the country.

But let's jump back to gamification, shall we?

"Games need risks to make them feel rewarding and failure is not the kind of thing that marketeers want their brand to be associated with."

Is that why Zynga is pulling in mountains of money? Granted, we could argue about Zynga's method until the cows come home, but the simple fact is, there are LITTLE-TO-NO RISK to the Zynga model of gameplay, and it's pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars. We are seeing an enormous shift in how people access games. Gaming is as much about relaxing and enjoyment as television is.

Gamification (a word I detest for many of the reasons you actually pointed out) isn't about risk vs. reward. It never WAS about that, nor should it ever BE. "[G]ame mechanics aren't behavioural economics." Nor were they ever intended to be (except in Zynga's case, perhaps). However, game mechanics, or even gamification, are simply an expression of user behaviors in a way that's designed to draw a user in without reminding them that they're actually repeating a mechanic (or set of mechanics) over and over again until a digital reward is granted.

Gamification is a new phenomenon and hardly able to be held to the refined standard of the television broadcast system. They've had decades to perfect their system, INCLUDING ad revenue and human psychology in advertising. We're just beginning to look at how NON-GAMERS respond to game-like content integration.

However, the clincher in this entire article is:

"There are, by my count, eight people in the entire world who understand games properly...". Really? I can count more in a minute that I've worked with in the past 10 years alone. Quit demeaning an entire industry of individuals--people who've dedicated their careers to understanding and developing games for others. Just because you know 8 doesn't mean there aren't those of us out there who've pushed to make gaming a better form of entertainment.

That statement alone is so arrogant and disrespectful that it fundamentally undermines your entire article.

I have another two pages of points to pick on this article, but I'm just hoping I misunderstood your above comment.

Apples.

Oranges.

You can have them both, dude.

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Mark Sorrell
Game Director/Development Producer

10 0 0.0
Lastly, this isn't an either/or thing and nor is it a competition between TV and games. It's an observation of some of the behavioural upside to the lack of choice coupled with social proof that scheduled, broadcast content brings.

Posted:2 years ago

#28
1 vs 100 was scheduled for a few reasons--the biggest was to drive concurrency and give people that feeling of a big, live event. And having a host that responded to in game events, real time, was also critical to the experience. People are willing to schedule entertainment, be in a rock concert, a WoW raid, or a game night of trivia on the couch.

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Daniel McLaren
Lead Game Designer

2 0 0.0
Yes, it's a nice caveat paragraph, but that's hardly the spirit of the article. Most people don't read to the end once they feel they have the gist of a piece, let alone a comment half-way down. Perhaps if you had made that your opening premise to set the tone of your work and then followed through with more clearly defined points that boosted that thought, then I would take your reply with some validity.

But tacking on a "Oh, by the way..." at the end doesn't change the nature of the piece, nor does it prevent it from being critiqued against it's actual content.

I'm not trying to be a dick, honestly. I just feel that pieces like this CAN be helpful to the games industry--especially when we need to learn how to appeal to larger audiences, deliver on a timely schedule, and consistency in hardware--but in this case, it reads like a "TV is superior to Gaaaaammeesss!!" piece.

I just think you could have laid out the article in a less demeaning way (towards games and designers).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel McLaren on 15th May 2012 4:18pm

Posted:2 years ago

#30

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