Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watching Starcraft 2 videos on YouTube made me into a man

It's true, gentle readers. Before I started watching Starcraft 2 videos on YouTube, I was not a man. More appropriately, my experience has allowed me to understand why many men who are not me are interested in things that are conservatively considered manly (and boring). Namely, watching sports and cars. Gross.

To bring you up to speed, Starcraft 2 is an online sci-fi strategy game where players choose one of three races to duke it out. The first was an incredible success and the second has been designed to facilitate the burgeoning genre of "E-Sports". Some of the top gamers make a lot of money. Some companies that you've heard of sponsor the Major League Gaming championship. 

So Starcraft 2 is big, especially in South Korea. I dabbled in the first, but I was never huge into it. When the second came out, I decided I would play it a bit. Single player was fun. I turned next to multiplayer, and got slaughtered. I don't really have the time to get good at Starcraft 2, so that was that, I uninstalled it. I later learned that top SC2 players will have an APM (actions per minute) of upwards of 200. What! I can't do anything 200 times per minute.

I heard that commentated SC2 videos were online and I figured I would check it out. I found one such caster, HuskyStarcraft, who the kids seemed to like. Turns out over 600,000 kids are subscribed to him at the time of writing). He comments on SC2 videos for a living through his YouTube channel and at competitions. Neat! It turns out that I quite enjoy watching games from time to time. The game prioritizes multitasking and organization rather than strength and agility.

I was watching a tournament game and one of the players had a keyboard with all the keys removed except for those that he used to play the game. A lot of the top players are on teams and live in player dorms. People fly from all over the world to compete in tournaments. South Korea is the world's SC2 leader. The best Zerg player in the world right now is Stephano, a young man from France. This is an interesting world. 

It hit me when I realized I was regularly watching SC2 videos and convincing people to watch them. I follow these just like normal mens watch sports. I get it now! I feel towards an e-sport what others feel towards prefixless sports! 

I've been pretty excited since my realization and I've considered other things in my life that parallel typical man interests. I'm really into biking and can totally justifying tons of money on a bike and its components. I know what different oils to put on my bike chain for different weather, how different tires affect winter performance, and what different puncture points on a flat tire mean. Dude, I could totally be talking about a camaro here if I had a mullet. 

There's an interesting book I read recently: it's called We Are All Weird. One of the gists of it is that in this day and age we have the means to be as weird as we want. If there is something to geek out about, someone will geek out about it. I hope that once this attitude becomes more prevalent that there will be more acceptance to fringe interests / less bullying / happier world. I'm not sure whether this has changed throughout my life, or whether it's just a growing up thing, but I feel like people are generally more tolerant towards weirdness these days. 

Watching Starcraft 2 videos on YouTube in your boxers is probably still weird though.

Here's an interesting Husky video to get you started:


  1. Great article. It made me laugh, as well as think. I have actually watched a few SC2 matches on youtube before. They can be quite entertaining. I like the parallel you found to prefixless sports.

    One thing that I find in the engineering professional community is that many of the interests seem very traditional (golf, drinking, fishing, drinking, sports, drinking, and work, work, work). In my experience at least, there are less people with fringe interests, like me. Or maybe it is just that none of us talk about them, because of the percieved attitude towards them.

    1. I can't decide if the bulk of the engineering profession's problems come from a large-scale machoness in the profession or from a smaller-scale issue of Saskatchewan's demographics.

      Engineering is a profession for Real Men (TM) who are fiercely practical and who alter their environment in major ways. (NB: This applies to the women in the profession as well.) It's the only profession I can think of where the practitioners are generally one remove from the rest of society (what I mean by this is that people talk to their doctors, their teachers, their lawyers, etc. but not their engineers), so while we're sitting here deciding where to put a building, mine, landfill, power station, the profession with some of the most power to shape the world/infrastructure also has some of the least accountability.

      Anyway blah blah blah that's sort of the infancy of a post for my other blog, but what I'm getting at is that Real Men (TM) don't have feelings or care about anything. They like the outdoors and the toys they experience it with, and they hate their wives.

      Saskatchewan is also full of Real Men (TM).

      So where is the issue coming from? I'm not sure.

      I've kept all my weird cards close to my chest (irl at least) for a long time, anyway, and that works ok for me right now. I'm sure there are other people like me. And there are also people who fly their weird flags proudly, which is good for all of us.

      Anyway this comment got away from me. I hope it makes sense.

    2. AH I love this comment and would love to see it expanded into a larger post (about which I'd write lots of comments! Short answer: I think that SK's demographics feed into the machoness of the profession, or, that in a different cultural setting, the engineering culture would also be different).

  2. I'm glad that I've outed you as a SC2 watcher

  3. Well, this will dovetail nicely with next month's topic ;)

    As a semi-frequent consumer of various let's plays and other "watching people play games I could play myself" media, the comparison to watching sports is pretty obvious.

    On the topic of everyone being weird, and tolerance of other people's weirdness, here is an AV Club article from the end of this year's SDCC. The wind blew something into my eyes after I finished reading it.,82493/

    1. This is a wonderful article - I often find that articles about Comic Con have weirdly condescending tones about either the entire event OR sections of it (have seen lots of Twilight hate, which I can sympathize with, but don't want to condone) and this is like the warm glowing warming glow of those articles' inverse doppelganger.

      RE: OP/the notion of increasingly easy access to weirdness, or the dispersal of nerdish things into the mainstream, I remembered reading this:

      And I have tons of thoughts about that article, but I'll save 'em for later.

  4. While Starcraft 2 videos are fun, I am also enjoying watching "Let's Play Minecraft" by Roosterteeth. Every episode they do different games within the game. They are pretty funny, and some of the games look fun.