Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Palaeontology

Paleontology or palaeontology (pron.: /ˌplɪɒnˈtɒləi/) is the scientific study of prehistoric life



Sounds like a reasonably accurate approach to an "About Me" section, right? Heh.

If you already know who I am, feel free to skip this whole section and move on to the next blog. Otherwise, this might help shed some light on why I feel entitled to an opinion among this swirling ocean of differing views.

Well, truth be told. I'm not that old. By societal measurements, anyway. But when you've been actively pursuing something for 13 years of your life and watched as 3 generations of enthusiasts come & go, you can't help but feel weathered. 

I'm 28 years old. Making reasonable progress towards 29. At this rate, I anticipate a safe arrival. 

In 1999, a 14 year old who went by the online ID of "VVoLF", discovered competitive gaming. It was this niche phenomenon which existed almost exclusively in South Korea, as teenagers and young adults would face off on a stage wearing 70's-esque space suits in a game of StarCraft. I wanted to know more, but information was difficult to come by. These were the days before Reddit, TeamLiquid, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and even Google. My Altavista searches didn't yield tremendous results. 

It was around this time that I discovered my passion for graphic & web design. I was always looking for excuses to put web sites together, so I created a site called "SCABC" - The StarCraft Australian Battle.net Community. The focus of this site was nothing more than social. We provided an avenue for StarCraft players to hang out and discuss this game they were all passionate about.

One thing lead to another, and with the release of the Brood War expansion pack, I naturally migrated the community to a new site - the BWABC. The infamous "Aus-1" private server was established somewhere amongst all this, and BWABC quickly became the stepping stone to Aus-1, where the very best of BWABC would aspire to face the likes of clans like DaG, MT, crap and many more.

The next year happened very, very quickly. Somewhere along the line, I met Joel / Fester, who noticed I'd been running a lot of tournaments at BWABC. He asked me to come on board with the WCGC - the World Cyber Games Challenge, which was a kind of "dry run" at running a "Cyber-Olympics" event. It wasn't advertised very much because they just wanted to do a practice run. My role was to develop competitive rule sets and brackets for the StarCraft events because there was no precedent for this sort of thing. I interacted with the community to ensure we used the proper maps, and developed the fairest format/bracket.

It was a huge hit. 1 year later, we launched the first official World Cyber Games event. All throughout the year I was bouncing back and forth between high school and flying around the country for events. As soon as I finished school, I packed a suitcase and flew to Sydney, so that I could work more on WCG via iStarZone HQ. I discovered that running an event of this magnitude was practically a full-time job. Even in the off-season, there was so much to do. Web design, articles, asset management & preparation. Sponsor & peripheral acquisition, and lots of content, planning, blah blah blah. I spent my 9 to 5 working in the office downstairs working on WCG, and then I'd work the graveyard shift in the internet cafe upstairs. I honestly don't remember sleeping much. I don't recall being tired either. Man, I miss my youth.

Anyway. I moved on to WarCraft 3 when it was released, and co-founded two incredibly successful websites - WarCraftReplays.com (now WCReplays.com) and War3Live.com (no longer online). The former was where I met so many awesome people such as JacziE, Bunny, KidArticA, DemusliM and so many more who went on to work at Blizzard, SK Gaming and become professional gamers. TeamLiquid.net was also founded at the same time.

I took it upon myself to build a competitive scene for WarCraft 3 in Australia, and co-ordinated numerous national & international championships such as WCG, ACON4, ACON5, CPL, ESWC, the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational, IHS Games and countless smaller online & offline tournaments. I also ran numerous events & coverage for Halo and Counter-Strike on behalf of CBN Media, Pantheon eSports Sydney Gamers League & iStarZone.

From 2005 onwards, there weren't many opportunities for competitive gamers in Australia. "eSports" (as it had started being labelled) was starting to dry up. A lot of companies had invested a lot of money and through the process of trial & error, they weren't satisfied with the ROI. Not to mention the global economy was on it's way straight to hell. By the time 2008 arrived, the only events I was operating were DotA tournaments for a bunch of high school kids at a local LAN cafe. We'd gone full circle.

I accepted that the short-lived trend of eSports had all but fizzled out, and eagerly anticipated the release of StarCraft 2 with all my fingers and toes crossed. In 2010, we saw an immense resurgence in the global eSports scene - bigger than ever before. Opportunities were as boundless as ever. It was time to start fresh with a new generation of gamers, a new title, and a new ID.

During the Wings of Liberty beta , I threw a few hundred dollars around to help generate competitive interest for Australians. This trend continued throughout the launch of the game as I offered my time and money up to numerous organisations in an attempt to plant the seeds of competitive gaming in Australia once more. Throughout the first year, I was running/covering events for CyberGamer, Team iCHOR (my old WarCraft 3 team), SC2SEA and WCG. Jumping back on board with WCG 10 years after I first started working for them was heartwarming at first. I quickly discovered that the company operating it was like so many before them though. Inexperience, disconnected and unprepared. Another WCG trainwreck ensued, but I did everything I could to make it as positive as possible for everyone involved.

I actually just wrote an enormous paragraph about some incidents that have occurred, before I realised I was going on one hell of a tangent. This is supposed to be a mundane history lesson, so I'll re-visit that stuff in a later blog.

In 2010, I ran the Battle.net Invitational tournament, which was 100% online. I was running it between two separate computers in two different rooms in my house. The whole thing was basically me running back and forth between rooms taking map vetos, inviting and hosting games. I used my housemate's account & PC to run half the event, whilst using my own for the rest. It's kinda funny 'cos my housemate received a shout-out for helping to run the event on the official battle.net page. He was ecstatic, and he had no idea what he was being thanked for. Seriously, look it up. His name was "Beepy", in memory of the robot who dies in Nier (spoiler alert).

In 2011, I operated my own event: Dox Cup. Nothing too exciting, just a SEA event to remind & reward people that there was a reason to continue playing the game in the off seasons, and to gauge interest in participation. I threw in $500 of my own money and it was a pretty fun event. Later in the year, I got on board with co-ordinating my 4th Battle.net Invitational. This one was hosted offline, at an internet cafe in Sydney. I had the pleasure of meeting my long-time friend JacziE, and one of the Blizzard_au guys named Nick O'Shae. He's really cool. At the end of 2011, I hosted my ultimate experiment: Dox Cup #2. $2,500 from my own pocket, a sweet list of international participants going head to head with the best in South East Asia. The event was cool and all, and the games were great. I showcased Maynarde to the world for the brilliant commentator I knew he could be. But the point was really missed, and the money was wasted. I was prepared to host a 3rd Dox Cup in 2012 with an even bigger prize pool, and offline components, but after seeing how hard this failed to meet my expectations, I was hesitant. (I'll go into detail in another blog)

I got on board with the ACL, formerly known as the "Australian Console League", to bring StarCraft to a new level of prestige in Australia. After operating their 2012 circuit on the Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne along with a dozen or so online & offline qualifiers, it became apparent that I couldn't keep up. My professional life was suffering because I wasn't able to commit to ACL 100%. I kept taking days off work so that I could manage and prepare these events. I decided to run the GameSpot Pro-Am, and after the World Championship Series, I announced I'd be parting ways with ACL. It was time to focus on my job and get my professional life in order.

I took one last day off for EB Expo, as I had agreed to be a guest speaker on the GameSpot eSports panel & help out at the GAMECOM booth. That was the last straw though. I arrived back in the office the day after EB Expo and discovered that I'd been fired. My $112K/a career (which I'd spent 6 years building) was down the drain. More on this in another blog later.

Two weeks after EB Expo, I took my StarCraft 2 team to MLG Dallas for the experience of a life time.

Now it's 2013, and I have a lot of stories to tell, lessons to share and mistakes to admit.

1 comment:

  1. Great read. Will be watching this space.

    z00lu

    ReplyDelete