Man vs E-Sports

So what exactly is e-sports? Well, as the picture above states, it is at its core a term that encompasses the act of playing games competitively.

Now, in a broad sense, this explanation really applies to any game with a competitive aspect where players are pit against one another in a competitive setting, much like any other sport in the world. However, unlike other sports, where athletes compete through a physical medium, e-sports takes place through a virtual one.

However, for the sake of keeping this topic accessible, I have chosen to focus more on the emerging market of organized and professional e-sports. And yes, I did mean “professional” as it has be fairly commonplace for the top players of some games to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year competing against one another.

Wait a second you are probably thinking, did I really just read that people are making in excess of six figures a year playing video games? Yes, Yes you did.

However, this explosion in potential salary for competitive progammers has only recently occurred, and is almost completely related to improvements in internet streaming capabilities and accessibility.

What exactly do I mean by that?

Well, for the longest time, whenever someone tried to monetize e-sports, they tended to fail due to lack of funding. Unlike traditional sports that have television as a broadcast medium and advertising dollars to pay the athletes, athletes competing in e-sports tended to be restricted by not being able to show their competitions live and not being able to generate ad revenue.

This all changed however with the advent of live streaming media, whereby someone could all of the sudden turn on a webcam and broadcast whatever they wanted in real-time over the internet. Kind of like having your own private T.V. station. As the medium became more and more accessible it quickly became the go-too medium for e-sports globally. Then of course, it was only a matter of time before advertisers saw the potential untapped markets in the thousands of viewers tuning in to watch these live events, and began to implement ads for streams. Which is probably the most monumental thing to happen to e-sports since its inception, as it finally gave organizers and competitors a means to generate income and truly be considered “Professionals” for the first time.

Now, it would still be foolish to compare the popularity of e-sports to real sports, but it would also be foolish not to recognize the incredible growth this emerging market has gone through in just a few years, largely due to popular streaming services such as: Own3d.tv and twitch.tv, which have attempted to create viable business models for content providers, such as professional gamers, a medium to monetize their broadcasts.

And with certain organizers’ events such as: MLG, Dreamhack, IPL and NASL drawing viewership in the hundreds of thousands, it comes as no surprise that many people who may have only considered videogames to be a hobby are now considering it for potential careers.

Now, before I start rambling and bore you all too much with the details, I am going to end this post, having achieved a cursory explanation of what e-sports is and how it has come to be. However, I am also going to include a couple links for those interested to some media I find represent the information I am trying to convey in a much more visceral format.

Counter Strike Documentary

World Cyber Games Documentary

Starcraft – Wings of Dream Video

Advertisements

Man vs Trolls

Now, I imagine most of you reading this are wondering why exactly I am talking about trolls on a blog dedicated to explaining the quirks and quarks of internet culture. But fear not, (or maybe do?) because I am not here to day to explain trolls of the bridge variety, but more the digital.

Lets start with a video shall we?

Right, so you are probably wondering what exactly it is I made you watch just now and whether you will ever get the time back you probably just wasted watching the whole thing. Well, I have some good news and some bad regarding your inner pondering’s.

Starting with the good, the fact that you are even wondering these things means we are at least halfway to explaining what exactly a troll is. Unfortunately, a proper troll will almost always result in a similar reaction

Put simply, a troll is someone who deliberately posts content with the express purpose of causing the maximum amount of disruption to the other users participating in whatever medium the troll chooses to hijack (i.e. Inflammatory remarks, nonsensical remarks, circular logic, hyper offensive remarks/images, etc).

However, leaving the explanation at that does not truly do the art of trolling justice, as it totally ignores the it has evolved over the years. While it is almost certainly true that as long as people have had the ability to communicate with each-other anonymously over the internet, they have also sought cause grief to their peers without fear of retribution, the way in which people go about causing this grief has become somewhat of an art-form.

Now, how could causing someone else grief possibly be considered an art form? Good question, and the answer to it is what many in the know would consider the defining characteristic between an regular troll “Successful troll”.

A regular troll is the most likely of sorts you will encounter on the internet. Meaning, they are probably acting on the sole intent of pissing as many people off as they can in shortest amount of time.

Whereas, a successful troll tends to be more subtle in their actions. The most common way this is generally achieved is through posing misleading links that send users to content completely unrelated to what the link was alluded to contain. The most popular of which today is likely the linking to a video of Rick Astley’s Never Gunna Give You Up.

This is what people call a RickRoll.

Another popular way of successfully trolling people is though the “Long Troll”. Which unsurprisingly, takes the form of a carefully planned, often elaborate, method in which the one being trolled will not be aware of it until considerable time has passed.

The following link explains one such troll, in which a popular community member named Warlizard, of the social news site Reddit.com, explains how he was successfully trolled over the period of a few months into thinking his name was stolen from a fictional online game also called “Warlizard”.

The Long Troll

Now, you have probably noticed by now that a successful troll does not necessarily operate with malicious intent, and you are right, as a successful troll generally aims to inject an element of humor into their actions. Whereas, an everyday normal troll is likely operating with malicious intent. But what does this all mean then, and how can you tell which is which? Or rather, how can you avoid being trolled.

Well unfortunately, there appears to only be one fool-proof solution to this question, and it is popularly summarized through the use of memes with a common quote:

Don’t Feed The Troll

Which basically means, the best way to avoid getting trolled is to simply ignore them and their statements.

And with that, last explanation this post comes to a close, and I hope that with the new information I have supplied, you too can help rid the internet of the massive troll infestation that has ruined many an innocent user’s fun.

Man vs Wilfully Ignorant Netizens

Well this is Embarrassing!

Assuming there is anyone out there reading this wonderful blog, I imagine you have probably been scratching your head wondering what happened to my weekly updates.

Well, as it turns out, previewing a post a submitting it to the blog are in fact two very different things.

Imagine that!

So anyways, as luck would have it, I attempted to visit my blog without logging into my account tonight and noticed my mistake and have gone ahead and made sure the posts made it to the site. So to you poor souls who subjugate yourselves to my posts, I reward you with a once in a lifetime double post! With Monday’s post to top it all off!

For those keeping count, that’s three whole posts chalked full of bloggy goodness!

So, now that everyone is aware of my sub par blogging skills, I think its about time we get to the posting

So, putting aside the irony that I originally wrote this post a couple weeks ago for the express purpose of discussing the widespread ineptitude of netizenz the world over only to post it incorrectly myself, I’m going to go ahead and post this thing anyways.

I want to use this post to discuss an issue I’ve been noticing a lot lately, and personally find very alarming, and unless the title of today’s post didn’t give it away, it is the willful ignorance that appears to be running rampant on the net these days.

Now your probably thinking, willful ignorance? What the hell is ManvsInternet talking about, I mean, the only reason I subject myself to this stupid blog in the first place is to learn about all things internet.

But don’t worry, since your probably not part of the problem.

No, this blog is about the hoards of self-respecting people too busy to litter their search history with my pathetic attempt at a blog. In fact, thee hoards of people are probably too busy to use the internet for anything really, except of course checking Facebook and twitter.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about people that actively try to avoid the internet and limit their interaction with it through mediums so sterile and rigid one could easily forget they are surfing the greatest and most versatile invention the world has ever seen.

You know, the kind of people that Google Google.com, because they never bothered to learn what the address bar in their browser is for.

Now traditionally, these kinds of people were probably your grandparents, and to a lesser extent, you parents. But they get a free pass, because hell, computers, much less the internet didn’t even exist when they were your age. However, I have been noticing to an ever increasing extent the number of technologically illiterate young people infecting the internet everywhere. Which of course scares me in that young people should be the ones intent on learning all the ins and outs of this Brave New World. Kind of like parents how young people in the 60’s new everything about their cars, except now it is somehow bad to know things about the medium we chose to spend most of our time socializing in.

I realize this post has turned into more of a rant than my previous two, but I feel that this is an issue that  needs to be addressed, and dealt with by all netizens interested in keeping the internet from turning into a mindless circlejerk.

So if you want to do something to fight against this kind of thing, I would suggest you share your knowledge with others in a way that encourages them to learn instead of being overcome by the learning curves involved in the process.

So please, do the internet a favor and help teach people to enjoy learning about it instead of diluting it.

Man vs Meme (For Great Justice!)

Alright, so I’m guessing most of you are wondering just what the hell that video was about and why am I showing it you…..don’t worry, on some level I myself am wondering the same thing.

However!

We are not here to question, or at least, I’m not. No! I am here to make clear the unclear, give sense to the senseless and generally just make the weirdness of the internet a little less weird!

So getting back to on point, the video above I so shamelessly exposed you all to is the introduction to a 1989 Japanese arcade game called “Zero Wing” that would eventually be ported, with questionable translations, to North America in the early 90’s. Of course, it would not be until 1999 (after people actually had access to the internet) that the game, or rather, the games introduction dialogue would go viral and be immortalized in the annexes of the internet forever. With some of its more ridiculous quotes going on to become extremely popular memes:

or

or hell….why not let this professional lab-coat clad gentleman explain?

Well, with that out of the way I guess I finally tackle just what an internet meme is huh? Well, to keep things simple (since there isn’t really a complicated way of explaining it) an internet meme is an “idea” (picture, video, quote, etc) that finds some kind of traction in a community on the internet where users then propagate it by submitting it to other users in “generally” unique or funny ways. This entire process can take anywhere from days to hours to occur, and it is not uncommon for some of the more popular memes, such as: lolcatz, demotivational posters or advice animals, to meteorically rise to the forefront of the internet almost instantly.

Memes have also come to play a fairly significant role in defining internet culture, with many of the the more popular one’s evolving (I use the word evolving here because the entire process of a meme catching fire and growing in popularity is generally a very organic process with the original poster/OP likely never intending for their submission to take on a life of its own) to fit into relevant or pressing issues affecting the community.

 In fact, memes have also evolved into a means for normal everyday netizens to express their personal feelings through images, generally in the form of: advice animals, demotivational posters or rage comics.

Internet memes have also had affects on peoples’ lives outside of the internet, with a couple examples being Scumbag Steve, College Freshman or the more recent Ridiculously Photogenic Guy:

All of whom have become aware of their online fame to some extent and have had their lives changed for it.

Now, I realize that my explanations may have left some confused and others wishing they had never read this post at all, but I felt that is are to stand any chance at surviving on the internet we should probably learn about the culture, and memes are the back bone of it.

If however, on the off-chance that you did find this post interesting and would like to dig deeper into the bizarre phenomenon that is the “internet meme” I would like to point you towards http://knowyourmeme.com/ . A site chalk full of all the wonderful information about the internet you were probably better off not knowing.

And with that I conclude my second post, but leave you one of my personal favorite memes right now:

That will be 100 Gold Peices Please …. Or $10 USD

As this is my first post, I feel I should warn you all that I am not a very interesting man.

So when Marty told us to come up with blogs about interesting topics we were familiar with…well lets just say I didn’t have the easiest of times coming up with anything in particular.

Thus, in a desperate attempt to come up with something to blog about, I decided to write about online culture, so if anyone has ever wondered what memes, trolls, e-sports and many other weird internet terms/phenomena are all about, you have come to the right place.

Now, with introductions out of the way, I figure I should probably get back to the main topic of this post, which if you hadn’t guessed by the absurd title of this pose, will be all about the absurd nature of virtual currencies.

Now, a virtual currency acts exactly like real life currency in that it is used as a means to buy and sell goods, however, unlike real life currencies which works pretty much anywhere, digital currencies only work within their own digital worlds and possess no real buying power outside of their virtual environments. Or at least, that’s how it used to work until the introduction of the internet and more specifically, online games, which sparked the beginning of a strange and controversial movement, wherein virtual currencies began to acquire real life dollar values.

Now, I realize this likely all sounds pretty lame or pointless so far, but unfortunately, much like real economics, virtual economics suffers from the curse of being ridiculously boring. However, many of the transactions themselves do prive to be significantly more interesting.

Take for example the case of Erik Novak (aka Buzz Erik Lightyear as he is known to his peers online). Mr. Novak was an avid and dedicated player of the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) Entropia Universe, and proud owner of Planet Calypso.

Now before I go any further, Entropia has taken a fairly unique approach to their virtual economy in that players can make real money transactions in order to by in game currency, also known as PED (Project Entropia Dollars), as well as withdraw PED for real life funds at a 10:1 ratio, meaning that everything in the game has a real-life dollar value.

So, with this information regarding Entropia’s economy in mind, we return to the case of Mr. Novak who won the planet Calypso in an online auction. Now normally, someone winning an auction in a video game garners little to no attention, as it is one of the most popular ways to make online transactions. However, Mr. Novak is a special case, in that he spent $330,000.00 USD to win the rights to the planet.

http://techcrunch.com/2010/01/05/most-expensive-virtual-object/

Yes, I do mean three-hundred and thirty thousand US dollars.

To most of you, I imagine this seems like an absurd amount of money for what really amounts to nothing more than some fancy pixels on the internet, and I would be inclined to agree with this sentiment. However, the case of Mr. Novak, though fairly extreme, is not as uncommon as you probably think.

While the practice of digital currency aquiring real-life value has generally been confined to the realm of more traditional online games, markets dealing in real and virtual currencies have also been rising in more social environments as well. Think, Neopets or Habo Hotel.

Slowly but surely, the practice of tying real life currency to digital currency is becoming more prevalent.

(I should probably mention here that unlike Entropia Universe, most games do not have a legitimate means to convert digital currency into real dollars, and thus spawn vast unregulated black market enterprises to facilitate these transactions)

In fact, the practice has become so big that many developers have given up trying to combat this issue and are instead pursuing different means of cashing in on it. Such is the case of Blizzard Entertainment, developers of the: Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo franchises, who recently created a new currency called Blizzard Bucks, which will essentially act as a medium for players to exchange real money for in game currency in their newest release of Diablo.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregvoakes/2012/05/21/will-diablo-iiis-real-money-auction-house-put-an-end-to-gold-farmers/

So what does this all mean?

Well to most, probably nothing.

But to a growing segment of users, it means that they can potentially make a living playing virtual markets for real life dollars.

I can’t help but wonder, where exactly this movement will lead, and to what extent this emerging market may develop.

While it may seem ridiculous and borderline absurd, I can’t help but wonder if one day I’ll be able to go to the mall and instead of paying in dollars and cents, I could potentially pay in digital dabloons or gold pieces?