Thursday, May 22, 2008

CPL is Dead: LANParties & E-Sports?

It's official that the CPL has ceased operations. In fact, this has been the case for about two months now. The big question in my mind is this: "What is next for E-Sports and how does it affect LANParties?"

In case you haven't been in on this, I ran for almost five years. In that time, there were good times and bad times. But the thing that ran true throughout the entire time is the possibility that LANParties may become a social hub for gamers. Its true that LANParties were a primary cause for me to come out of my shell after a tough transition from high school to college. The entire time, however, I was left with the goal that I wanted others to be able to do the same thing. That is why I helped to run for five+ years. Unfortunately, the powers that be decided that didn't need the support that I was requesting. As such, it has eventually fallen into disrepair. The LANParty organization and announcement tools released to the community in August 1998 are simply not up to the task in today's world.

So, what does that have to do with the demise of the CPL? Well, the CPL always had a tenuous relationship with many of the hosts on the LANParty scene. The CPL served to commercialize what the grassroots LANParty community had been doing on a non-commercial basis. Why is that a problem? Well, it isn't really, but it left a bad taste in the mouths of many of the hosts on the scene. Most wanted nothing to do with the CPL and it left the community hushed about who was or was not a 'cyber-athlete.' (Did I mention that I hate the use of the term cyber? I do.) This wasn't the case everywhere, but it definitely was the case in the geographic pockets that I talked to in the United States. What really needed to happen was an open system of ranking players similar to the way that chess titans are ranked. Several attempts were made at doing just that, unfortunately, they were all mired in making the system seemingly cheater proof.

Again, what does this have to do with the CPL? Unfortunately, as my career has moved forward and I've started a family... I'm not longer as deep in the gaming community as I used to be, however, I'll expound on that for a moment. I think we need a new league that isn't run by a commercial organization. Think Wikimedia (operator of Wikipedia) for gaming. The system could operate relatively simply and on donations from corporations and gamers alike. There would need to be a clear bend towards ensuring that commercialism didn't end up taking over the new league, but that could be done with a careful eye of an attentive board of directors (even if they had to be paid or perked to serve). So, why don't we have this now? Lack of willingness to compromise. Angel Munoz was right when he wrote the announcement that the CPL was finished saying, "the current fragmentation of the sport, a crowded field of competing leagues, and the current economic climate." The last one has an impact on the commercialization aspect of the CPL, however, the first two items fragmentation and competing leagues would crumble any effort to combine the community. What needs to happen is for the leagues to recognize that there isn't any way into the future except through collaboration. Each league that crumbles is a nail in the coffin for any sort of global ranking system that could be used as a basis for creating leagues.
To really see the potential and how close the CPL was, you simply need to look at the history of the NFL. Mogols owned the teams and faced them off with other teams in city leagues until the eventually they all got together, agreed on rules of how they would compete. The CPL was starting to do that. Unfortunately, they still were doing it on their rules and their turf. The sanctioning of a tournament to make it legal for ranking was a complicated process that most LANParty hosts found daunting at best with applications to be a host location. Even then, there was question about who would really be running the show (a question most LANParty hosts don't like to have asked).
In the New Era
So, in the new era, we need to have cooperation and collaboration. Just like everything else on the Internet. Methods need to be determined to create solid profiles of players to support a ranking system. Any ranking system that doesn't do this will suffer the same fate of the CPL because there just won't be enough financial support to keep it going. Think of the sheer financial support that the NFL draft system has for operations. Now consider if on top of being forced to draft players through the draft system, there was no consistent method of determining statistics for players. I digress... let's boil it down to a list:
  • A player listing system
  • A player ranking system with self reporting and methods for contesting an entry by the opponent
  • An event listing system with easy player and event management tools
  • The ability for any site to draw on and report any information in the system
If those three simple goals could be achieved, we would have a chance at creating an open electronic gaming league. There are some easy ways of doing these things now with relatively new web based technologies. Somebody just needs to do it. If you're interested in pursuing this idea, don't hesitate to drop me a line.


At 12:49 PM, Blogger SpongeFish said...

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