By Alex Walker on July 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm
PAX Australia was an interesting experiment for the local media, if only because it was an event that catered almost entirely to the gamers.
The Expo Hall, filled with booths, indie games and private showings — the HD version of the Oculus Rift among them — was the closest PAX Australia came to being a “normal” convention. There was stuff you could buy, games to play and queues everywhere.
But there was one major difference that hasn’t been seen at any other convention hall in Australia before — and that was eSports.
By Alex Walker on April 7, 2013 at 10:08 am
Competitive gaming has been around for a long time, but its players, tactics and infrastructure can be little mystifying to the layman. People scream a lot; it’s a little intimidating. There’s a lot of action on screen; it’s a little confusing. It’s very in-depth and without prior knowledge, difficult to report.
Covering gamer rage has never been a complicated matter.
By Alex Walker on March 3, 2013 at 12:01 pm
This week, Riot announced that they would be opening a Sydney office and looking for a community manager, and an eSports organiser. Then, writes Alex Walker — the local scene immediately devolved into a frenzy of backstabbing and name calling. If you want to lead a community, maybe you shouldn’t act like a shark when there’s blood in the water.
By Alex Walker on February 26, 2013 at 10:06 am
This was the big one. This was the day where everything was on the table. All the showmatches, all the thousands of dollars bet beforehand was just a warmup to the main event.
You wouldn’t have guessed, watching the cheers, gasps and regular group hugs on the stage (to the annoyance of organisers and any health and safety officers in the crowd) that the final prizes were so small compared to what changed hands earlier in the weekend. Still, it didn’t dull the intensity of the matches or the passion of the spectators one iota. It was almost a kind of pure enjoyment, playing solely for the glory, something evident on the faces of particularly the Melbourne supporters.
By Alex Walker on February 24, 2013 at 10:46 am
As expected, the intensity ramped up significantly at the second day of proceedings at the 11th OzHadou Nationals. The fact that it’s a Road to EVO qualifier, where the top 2 of most games receive seeding points towards the Evolution championships in Las Vegas later this year, helps somewhat.
Mind you, a few thousand dollars changing hands doesn’t hurt either — and more is expected to come out tonight.
By Alex Walker on February 23, 2013 at 10:21 am
For those who have never attended a national championships for fighting games, let me offer you a primer: casual is not casual in the slightest.
The OzHadou nationals, the 11th iteration of which is being held at 99 on York’s Red Room in Sydney, always earmarks the first day for two things: registration and “casual” play.
But a cursory glance around the room proves that what’s really going on is far from casual.
By Alex Walker on February 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm
The wonderful advantage of Blizzard’s methodical approach towards their eSports baby, StarCraft 2, is that it never stays the same. Take the Heart of the Swarm beta, for example. To the uninformed the game would look essentially identical, but the quantity and subtlety of some changes have made the expansion to the real-time strategy beast a completely different kettle of fish to the game which first what went live late last year.
Some units have been removed completely; others have been substantially reworked, and some haven’t changed a bit. Old strategies have been dusted off and revamped for a new age, and brand new ones are being invented every day.
To get the best picture of just where things stand before Heart of the Swarm launches next month, I rounded up some people for whom the game matters the most.
By Alex Walker on February 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm
Throughout the course of the year, Australia has a lot of wide and varied tournaments serving gamers’ competitive needs. But none are as competitive or as fierce as those held by the fighting game community, which enjoyed a stellar 2012 by having some of the biggest and most unique events seen in the country.
The first nationals for the year, OZHadou 11, looks set to continue that tradition, having been selected as an official qualifier for the Evolution global fighting game championships at the Paris Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, in July.
I spoke to some of Australia’s most talented fighters ahead of the event and asked them what their expectations were, who to keep an eye on as potential darkhorses, what Australia’s chances at the world finals in Las Vegas were — and just exactly why they love fighting games so much.
By Alex Walker on January 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm
The reception of professional gaming within traditional and even gaming media itself has become a lot more prominent of late. Games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 have helped punishingly difficult learning curves come back into vogue, while the continued growth of prize pools at events like The International have caught the attention of traditional newswires and even business publications.
By Alex Walker on January 20, 2013 at 10:00 am
Imagine you’re sitting down, enjoying your favourite game, on the lounge, sofa or maybe a nice comfortable computer chair. Everything seems reasonably normal, although there’s something just a little bit off. The corners of the screen are a bit harder to see, and occasionally you have to squint.
It’s like you rolled out of bed, except you’ve been awake for hours. You scrub your eyes, drag the grit out of the side of your eyelid. It gets better, your vision clearer, eyes more relaxed. You’d think the problem was gone, except it never seems to fully go away. Maybe you just didn’t sleep enough last night: the light from the computer screen disrupts sleeping patterns, after all.
We’ve all experienced something similar, feeling a little lethargic in the eyes, needing time to “wake up”, as it were. Some need more time to wake up than most; often that’s just the differences between humans. Nick McGuffin’s eyes never fully “woke up” — and now he’s in danger of losing his eyesight altogether. Thanks to the support of Australia’s StarCraft 2 community though, he may be able to afford the surgery he so desperately needs.
By Alex Walker on January 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Emily Gera, a senior British reporter at Polygon, recently coded an interactive fiction game emulating the “mind of a Kotaku commenter” — shorthand for what she sees as some of the best lines from the internet’s most bigoted, misogynistic pigs.
There’s only one emotion at play here: disgust. And since the motivations of women-haters are about as reasonable as those of racists — that is, completely unreasonable — I’ve never really understood how anyone could feel anything else.
We’ve all been here before. And we all keep revisiting the same bloody topic, talking about the disgusting, abhorrent behaviour of lobotomised trolls. But what’s so confounding and infuriating about the entire affair is not so much that it keeps happening, but that it seems almost singularly impossible, almost as if the internet itself wills it so, to have a constructive discussion on the matter.
By Alex Walker on December 9, 2012 at 11:15 am
A component that is essential to the success of a live event is the art of commentary, although it’s hardly understood and often unappreciated. To glean some wisdom on the nuances of this dark art, I spoke to one of Australia’s most prominent StarCraft 2 casters: Leigh “Maynarde” Mandalov.
By Alex Walker on November 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm
A good eSport title needs a varied mix of maps and modes, and gameplay with enough variety to allow for time between matches to strategise, re-think, and re-arm. Black Ops 2‘s non-stop frag-festival is more like a Michael Bay movie than a game, which is a shame — as downtime is just as important to a successful competitive game as the action itself, explains Alex Walker.