Overwatch, eSports, and communication in games.

Overwatch, eSports, and communication in games.

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The video game industry is massive today. In total, the video game industry pulls in more than the movie AND the music business combined per year, while that is a pretty crazy fact, that doesn’t surprise me all that much. People tend to stereotype gamers as people who lack communication skills and in general are very awkward people to be around. Today I’ll be talking about a game, and a phenomenon that disproves that fact.

As a gamer myself, one of my favorite games to play nowadays is called Overwatch. Overwatch is a first person shooter that focuses much more on working as a team than being a yolo lone wolf off on your own like people tend to do in CoD or Halo. In Overwatch, you have many different characters with many different personalities to differentiate themselves from one another, each has their own unique playstyle, and they all work together or counter one another in some way, shape or form. Unlike your typical first person shooter such as Call of Duty where it’s gun versus gun and whoever is better at aiming typically wins the fight, Overwatch takes a different approach. One example may be if your opponent is playing Roadhog, you will play Reaper to counter him. Reaper has an upper hand against Roadhog and can really help turn the fight in your favor as such.

The biggest part of the game however is teamwork. Each character has an “ultimate” ability and many characters ultimate abilities work very well together when you combine them to absolutely devastate the enemy team. A good example of this is Zarya’s ultimate called “Graviton Surge,” combined with several different ults such as Tracer’s Pulse Bomb, Reaper’s Death Blossom, Pharah’s Rocket Barrage, and more. More, Mei’s Blizzard can freeze enemies in place making them easy picking for a coordinated group to wipe the enemy team.

What all of these things have in common is teamwork, and group communication. If you don’t play as a team in Overwatch, chances are highly likely that you will lose. It’s very rare you will have one person carry an entire team. Even a master tier Genji won’t be pulling out a win alone with no support to back him up. He can be the best Genji in the world, but it’s pretty hard to win a game 1v6. As such, communication is critical in Overwatch. There’s many different paths to take, strategies you can use, and plays you can make and they become much more easily achieved when you have coordination than if you were to have a team go at it in waves. A Zarya and a Reaper combo ulting can get a team kill with ease when they use coordination, whereas a Zarya and a Reaper without coordination won’t have nearly the same effectiveness since they aren’t working on the same wave length.

These things all come down to what I find the most fun about games as a gamer myself, which is playing with my friends and working together. People seem to get this idea that gamers don’t know how to communicate and they can’t function outside their little digital world, but I can honestly say as a player of Overwatch that my strategical thinking and problem solving as a team skills have actually gone up. Overwatch is more than your generic FPS and that’s what makes it so great and so team based with all of the different synergies the characters have with one another or how they can counter one another. You have to think about how to approach a situation, more than you have to run in and shoot an M4 or your BR faster than your opponent.

So obviously I’ve had a blast with Overwatch and we’ve covered that, but now let’s talk about something a bit more on the competitive side, called “eSports.” eSports are essentially professional gamers playing just like how a basketball team would, or a football team, or take your pick for sport, it’s like that. There’s a lot of people today who argue that no, eSports are not real sports and should not be called that as such, and I understand where they are coming from, but I disagree. However, I digress from what this point is really about.

eSports gamers have to use a lot of communication skills and strategies to win their games, just like any normal team would. Do you think Steph Curry steps onto the court and then stays silent while he nails three pointers and plays as one of the best point guards ever? No. So why then, would Tom Taylor do the same? I doubt Steph Curry gets off the court and goes to meet fans and gets shy and bottles up, and I’m willing to bet neither does Tom Taylor.

Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth brought up a great point in “RT Podcast 400,” in that, when you meet someone from online or someone new as a gamer, it’s like you’re talking to a new friend you just haven’t met before. So when people go to meet Burnie he can strike up a conversation and immediately get the other person talking like a friend. While yes, these people all share things in common, that’s what almost every conversation that doesn’t go like this:

“Hey! How are you doing?”

“I’m good, how are you?”

“I’m good, I’m good.”

and then you walk away, goes. To get a conversation going you try and find common interests and that’s what people do, not just gamers. It amazes me that people find that gamers are these bottled up people with no social skills, when they have to work as a team just as much as Steph Curry has to with the Warriors…unfortunately, the general public doesn’t watch eSports or even consider it a thing in some cases, and don’t know games like Overwatch exist, so they’ll never see a Steph Curry of video games, even when they exist in plain sight.

The Overwatch World Cup is currently going on and I couldn’t recommend watching it more! When Blizz Con hits, the door blows open and the world will know what country is the best, and I’m psyched to see what team will come out on top. If you’re interested in finding out more about Overwatch, you can see the cinematic trailer here and here is a link to buy it on Amazon.

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