Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Competitive Gaming, Take Two!

PvP tournaments are old news these days. The professional gaming circuit has its own official league, is sometimes seen on such mainstream networks as ESPN, and has generally become accepted as commonplace in the gaming world. Amateur tournaments are no longer the exclusive domain of private LAN parties, but are held in bars and gaming stores around the country. If you haven't seen one in your area yet, look harder. PvP tournaments are fairly commonplace these days.

PvE tournaments, on the other hand, almost do not exist. Player vs Player gaming lends itself naturally to competition, but not so much for Player vs Environment gaming. Just about the only realistic way to run such a tournament would be to have players (or groups of players) clear a portion of content while being timed. Think of it as the gaming version of skiing's giant slalom, only with better graphics and no frostbite. I strongly suspect there is a market for such tournaments. Anything we enjoy doing we also enjoy paying to watch other people do better. See NASCAR and Major League Eating if you don't believe me. That's not to say that PvE tournaments will be come as popular as a high speed exhibition of the fine art of making left turns, but there is likely a market that would be interested in competitive PvE, could such a beast be tamed.

And the taming may have begun. A game convention in Germany later this month will include a timed run of Ulduar, the newest and hardest World of Warcraft dungeon. The competing guilds will not be running the most difficult version of the dungeon, but when was the last time you saw a giant slalom set up on an extreme slope?

Quite frankly, I don't care who wins this tournament. I don't care how they win, or what the time will be or what strategies will be used. What I am waiting to see is the popularity of the event. Am I right in thinking there is a market for competitive PvE? We'll get an inkling of the answer later this month.

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