7/26/10

Zerg Rush

4/365 - Starcraft II BetaImage by Loimere via Flickr
Tonight at midnight, Starcraft II becomes available to the public. Tonight at midnight, video game stores will encounter their own Zerg rush.

One of the most anticipated games. Ever. And it's very interesting to me exactly why that is. I was never really good at RTS games. I guess it's really just too much for my brain to process at the same time. I get the theory of it all, but my brain just won't go that fast. But what I really wonder is how this release will affect the career of professional gamer Norman Valentine, aka Ace.

The world of professional gaming is a hotly intriguing one. Also called "eSports," it blends the hand-eye coordination of video gaming with the celebrity and spectators of traditional sports. Just like in football or basketball, people have their favorite players, their favorite teams, their favorite games, preferred strategies and even merchandise. But with eSports, they're not watching real people pass a ball around, they're watching electronically generated avatars beat other electronically generated avatars to bloody pulps by the direction of the player.

One of the best of the Starcraft players was Ace. He was a relative newbie to the scene, being one of very few American players to be good enough to compete in a Korean league. Seoul is basically the hub of eSports, especially for those games produced by Blizzard. Ace was climbing up the ranks and basically got a perfect game five times in a row. He was investigated for cheating and sent back to America when they found a remote transmitter in his keyboard. Now-a-days he's trying rebuild his rep and get back on the horse, but it doesn't look too good. He's still a good player, but that kind of thing doesn't go away very easily.

In any case, the improved graphics, the new units and exciting new features of Starcraft II could possibly make or break Ace's come-back depending on how much he's delved into the Beta. I've had a chance to play around with it and I can tell you that it's a very welcome replacement for its predecessor. It hits all the right buttons, just like a veteran gamer.