12 Jul

This past Sunday, I headed down to Mad Dog in the Fog to check out a new event called “BarCraft,” hosted by’s gaming channel Twitch TV. I was covering the event for Kotaku, and it was great fun. My write-up went up today:

In between games there’s a convivial, social vibe as bargoers chat up strangers, discuss strategies and rehash epic games from the past. Everyone seems to agree that it’s a fantastic turnout, and that that fact is a Very Good Thing. BarCraft has that open, optimistic excitement that tends to crop up at the best types of video game events. Here we are at the start, everyone seems to be thinking, dipping our toes into the future.

My impressions are in the piece, as well as some general thoughts on professional gaming as a spectator sport. The short version: I’m totally into it. I’m certainly not much of a StarCraft player; the skill that it takes to compete on the ladders is far beyond me. If you want a good idea of what I’m talking about, check out this insane APM demonstration:


But even though I could never hope to be one one-hundredth that fast, I love the game, and have had a blast learning more about the process of its design.

I missed the GDC talk given by Blizzard’s Dustin Browder entitled “Designing an e-Sport,” but I wish I hadn’t – fortunately, I can go watch it on the GDC Vault, which I fully plan to do. But even without seeing it, I enjoyed my friend David Carlton’s notes about the talk that he posted to his blog.

I’ve been thinking about sports and games quite a bit lately, realizing that it seems easier to turn a videogame into a sport than it is to turn a pre-existing sport into a videogame. People play Street Fighter IV and StarCraft 2 professionally, but to my knowledge they don’t play Madden or MLB: The Show. I have a number of thoughts about why that might be, but it’d probably be best to get them organized, do some research, and write a full piece about it.

In the meantime, I’m sure there’ll be more BarCrafts soon. The guys from Twitch TV were really excited to host more, and from the look of this Reddit thread, plenty of other folks are going to be taking it upon themselves to organize ad-hoc get-togethers of their own.

I’ll certainly go to the next one, and bring some friends. Maybe in a few months, at the end of the NASL’s second season. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to tear myself away from these YouTube videos and finish the Wings of Liberty campaign.

Read my “BarCraft” report at Kotaku


2 Responses to “BarCraft”

  1. David Boni July 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Haven’t finished the campaign? Oh man… I know it doesn’t flow like the first games, but it is an enjoyable enough experience. I feel bad enough watching professionals duke it all all the time while I don’t even play StarCraft 2 online with people. Too much adrenaline.

    • Kirk July 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      I know, I know! I really like it, just got sidetracked about 50% or so in. But I’m serious when I say I’m gonna go back and finish it – it’s been a brilliant campaign so far, amazing how every single engagement is tweaked and unique.

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