On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport

This University of Washington research paper (Adobe Acrobat format) attempts to explain the enduring popularity of StarCraft as a spectator support (thanks Ant via Slashdot). The primary conclusion they draw is that the game benefits from information asymmetry, as spectators are aware of things the players aren't, and vice versa. Here's a bit on that:
All information asymmetry is reduced and eliminated as the game progresses. But as the information is revealed, the spectator is entertained in the process. The revelation of this information, slowly teased out, creates suspense for spectators and players. In an article of ―why Starcraft attracts crowds so often‖ listing 14 examples of exciting spectacles [4], the majority were cases of information asymmetry leading to suspense. The examples were: crazy unexpected strategies (player has information advantage), air chases, mine drags, storm blankets, reavers, and the clash (outcomes are highly variable and thus unknown), lurker hold position trick, arbiter recall on mines, and nukes (the spectator has an information advantage over the victim player). For example, as flying transportation vessels float over enemy frontlines, spectators watch in anticipation, wondering if they will be shot down by the opponent‘s turrets or if they will make it to the mining workers, devastating the opponent‘s economy. Starcraft‘s strength in attracting spectators lies in its many situations of long teasing information asymmetries of all three types. These drawn out unknowns build suspense for the spectators and their release is a source of entertainment.
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 16:08
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 16:08
May 17, 2011, 16:08
 
Silicon Avatar wrote on May 17, 2011, 15:32:
I can't think of many things more boring than to watch a stranger play a video game.


It's like watching a sport. A lot of people think watching soccer/baseball/american football/[insert sport here] is boring. A lot of people don't.

I don't find the game very fun to watch personally, I'd rather play it. Unfortunately Starcraft 2 is much like a having a second career that you need to dump copious amounts of time into so that you can compete effectively.

If you're very competitive, and care about your ranking and placement, then yeah you need to spend a lot of time. The matchmaking is pretty good, and if you don't mind losing 1/2 of your matches in Bronze league, then you really don't need much skill or time to have fun.

This comment was edited on May 17, 2011, 16:13.
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 15:32
12.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 15:32
May 17, 2011, 15:32
 
I can't think of many things more boring than to watch a stranger play a video game.

Avatar 18037
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 15:02
11.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 15:02
May 17, 2011, 15:02
 
Thanks all for the response.


I don't find the game very fun to watch personally, I'd rather play it. Unfortunately Starcraft 2 is much like a having a second career that you need to dump copious amounts of time into so that you can compete effectively. The variety of custom maps is the only thing that's even kept the game installed on my hard drive. If you're the kind of person who wants to play one game and be really good at it then SC2 is probably great but life's too short imho.
Verno this is exactly the position I find myself in. As much as I love the game, due to work and family commitments there is no possible way I can devote enough time to develop my SC2 skills to be on par with other SC2 players.
Just for curiosity, I'd like to take a look at those replays.

As Yifes pointed out, this game is huge in Korea, so I'm not sure why Blizzard didn't incorporate some sort of SC2TV into the client?? Can anyone here elaborate?

Ta
Trent Reznor - Atticus Ross an incredible team.
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 10:10
10.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 10:10
May 17, 2011, 10:10
 
MrTA wrote on May 17, 2011, 09:05:
NeOCidE you can do it from the game but then it is called watching replays. Look for a sort of video camera icon in the menus. When u watch streams go to sites like www.gosugamers.net or www.teamliquid.net and look them up. You can also google for big leagues like IPL, GSL, NASL, MLG etc etc. But the two sites linked above is a good start.

Oh another good source for SC2 games is Youtube search for StarCraft 2 Vods (video on demand).

Search Youtube for teamliquid.net's vods, there's the TSL 3 finals up there right now(happened sunday). I just started watching some of these high level games and those final 7 were some of the best and most entertaining to watch. 1/2 the excitement is the casters as they just go crazy during the matches.
Munching On: FF14 storyline, SAO PS4, Horizon.
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 09:06
9.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 09:06
May 17, 2011, 09:06
 
NeOCidE wrote on May 17, 2011, 08:52:
Sorry to be a newb, but how does one actually spectate on a Starcraft 2 game? Is this feature built in to the game?


They're talking about watching tournaments like the OSL for Starcraft 1 or Global Star League and North American Star League for Starcraft 2. Check out the first link to get a sense of the scale of Starcraft as an esport in Korea.
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 09:05
Verno
 
8.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 09:05
May 17, 2011, 09:05
 Verno
 
NeOCidE wrote on May 17, 2011, 08:52:
Sorry to be a newb, but how does one actually spectate on a Starcraft 2 game? Is this feature built in to the game?


People make youtube videos and such. There's also replay files for those who own Starcraft 2, you can just download them from the many sites that cover it and just double click the file to launch the game straight into the replay. Alternatively dump the files into your replay directory in Documents/SC2/whatever.

I don't find the game very fun to watch personally, I'd rather play it. Unfortunately Starcraft 2 is much like a having a second career that you need to dump copious amounts of time into so that you can compete effectively. The variety of custom maps is the only thing that's even kept the game installed on my hard drive. If you're the kind of person who wants to play one game and be really good at it then SC2 is probably great but life's too short imho.
Playing: Xenoblade Chronicles DE, Ys IX, God of War
Watching: Lupin, You me and the Apocalypse, Days of Thunder
Avatar 51617
7.
 
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 09:05
7.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 09:05
May 17, 2011, 09:05
 
NeOCidE you can do it from the game but then it is called watching replays. Look for a sort of video camera icon in the menus. When u watch streams go to sites like www.gosugamers.net or www.teamliquid.net and look them up. You can also google for big leagues like IPL, GSL, NASL, MLG etc etc. But the two sites linked above is a good start.

Oh another good source for SC2 games is Youtube search for StarCraft 2 Vods (video on demand).
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 08:52
6.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 08:52
May 17, 2011, 08:52
 
Sorry to be a newb, but how does one actually spectate on a Starcraft 2 game? Is this feature built in to the game?

Trent Reznor - Atticus Ross an incredible team.
5.
 
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 08:42
5.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 08:42
May 17, 2011, 08:42
 
Watching people play video games unless it has a deep story (making it more like a movie) is just boring as hell.
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What about production quality?
May 17, 2011, 02:56
4.
What about production quality? May 17, 2011, 02:56
May 17, 2011, 02:56
 
Used to watch bw games back in the days from Korea for one simple reason - production quality. Now with Starcraft 2 you have excellent production quality with good casters/streams/pro gamers fighting and it's a blast to watch. If you throw off some half ass shit with just players then no thx. My point here is that the overrall quality has improved ALOT in all aspects when you look at leagues like GSL/NASL/IPL/MLG/Dreamhack etc etc. Sure a good game mechanic is always required but don't forget about the production needed around the game to make a successfull broadcast.
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 17, 2011, 02:47
mag
3.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 17, 2011, 02:47
May 17, 2011, 02:47
mag
 
I've seen... like two Starcraft 1/2 matches that weren't excruciatingly boring.
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 16, 2011, 23:25
2.
Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 16, 2011, 23:25
May 16, 2011, 23:25
 
Interesting paper. I never was much of a Starcraft fan but let me tell ya I love watching a good Starcraft 2 match, more so than playing the game even. I had a blast watching the tourney at Blizzcon last year.
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport
May 16, 2011, 22:59
El
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Re: On StarCraft as a Spectator Sport May 16, 2011, 22:59
May 16, 2011, 22:59
El
 
I think this is a lot like why people enjoy watching Poker on TV. It has dead simple rules, but they just like the fact that they know when someone is bluffing, but this all-star pros do not.

Or in movies where Matt Damon has already planned this amazing escape route, but you know nothing about it, and it's reveal slowly at every step.

Anyways, awesome paper and glad Starcraft has some legitimate exposure at universities.
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