Yesterday at noon, CBS created history by being the first major network to air coverage of a videogaming tournament. The results were underwhelming. The coverage ran at noon on Sunday, not exactly a prime time slot. The two lead-in programs at 11:00am and 11:30am were paid infomercials. The first infomercial was for a tome of medical knowledge that supposedly contains cures that “they don’t want you to know about”, while the second infomercial was for a scam product called Light Relief that, according to them, cures just about every ailment simply by shining light from LEDs in the portable device onto your skin. They say it’s used by Navy SEALs in the field, so it must work! These two infomercials didn’t leave me with high hopes for the quality of the videogame coverage. Can we get some better lead-ins the next time, please?
The broadcast included coverage of three different games, Guitar Hero II, Fight Night, and World of Warcraft. The coverage of each consisted of showing a single match (some of which contained multiple rounds) between the two top teams after a long series of unaired qualifying rounds. Guitar Hero and Fight Night were 1v1 events, while World of Warcraft was 3v3.
The Guitar Hero coverage was thoroughly uninteresting. Two nerds alternated prancing across the stage, strumming away on ridiculous miniature plastic guitar peripherals. It didn’t look cool at all, but they acted as if they were rock stars. I’ll admit, they were good at the game, but I just didn’t care. I’d much rather watch real live concert footage with musicians that are actually making music. I couldn’t help but laugh when one of the two contestants smashed his guitar peripheral on the floor of the stage after a particularly difficult song. The way it crunched up rather than shattering into pieces was most unsatisfying. And then, after their “performances”, the two players were judged by a panel of three, each judge responsible for one area like “Style” or “Technical Skill”. One contestant ended up beating the other, 28-27. Yawn.
The Fight Night coverage was even worse. The game is a “realistic” boxing simulation, and as such, it shows two fighters on screen with no displays indicating health or anything else (although the way the boxers jerk around during combat is really artificial-looking). Thus it was pretty impossible to figure out what was going on or who was winning. At the end of four rounds, either one of the boxers fell down and couldn’t get up, or the judges called it for the winner of the most rounds, or something. I couldn’t have cared less. It didn’t help that each round was introduced with a stare-down, with the two opponents donning boxing gloves (???) and getting about an inch from each others’ faces and staring. One contestant was a skinny black nerd and the other was a fat white nerd. Not only that, but they were friends in real life. The stare-down had about as much intensity as a basket full of Hello Kitty dolls.
I was hoping I would enjoy the World of Warcraft coverage, but alas, it was lacking as well. The only camera view they used was direct video capture of the participants’ screens. This made it very hard to figure out what was going on, especially with all of the numbers and icons coming from the players’ battle interface mods that were streaming across their screens. The announcers didn’t seem to do a particularly good job of explaining overall strategy. They were mostly reactive, simply stating the obvious like “Oh no, this player just got cornered by all three members of the opposing team and he’s about to die.” Thanks Einstein. How about next time you explain how it was that he was maneuvered into such a disadvantageous position? Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »