How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Competitive RTS Gaming

I barely slept during the weekend of the Major League Gaming Spring Championship. I stayed up until three in the morning every night, watching pro StarCraft 2 players and League of Legends teams exploring the limits of endurance and resilience as they fought their way through the championship brackets. Then I’d pass out for a few hours, waking up in time to see the action resume in the early afternoon. But I couldn’t stop watching, because the Spring Championship was a chance to watch talented players pushing strategy games to limits most of us will never be able to explore.
It also made me realize that competitive gaming, far from being the enemy of more casual players like myself, actually makes for better games, better online experiences, and better overall gaming. We just need more companies than Blizzard and Riot to realize it.
From Hate to Love
I didn’t like StarCraft 2 when it came out because it was such a conservative, eSports-friendly update to Brood War. StarCraft 2 was designed with pro-level skills in mind, and you know it from the first time you try to zoom out to look at the map and realize your view is zoom-locked somewhere back in 1998. You can’t get very far without understanding StarCraft 2 strategy, but you can’t even execute a strategy without first being able to offload the mental demands of micromanagement to a series of trained responses. Learning to play StarCraft 2 in a competent fashion is uncomfortably close to learning to play a musical instrument, and that’s not what I wanted from a leisure activity.