Dear Mainstream Media: Here Are 5 Steps to Perfect "Esports" Coverage

Dear Mainstream Media: Here Are 5 Steps to Perfect "Esports" Coverage
Hello mainstream media! Are you looking to cover the hip new fad that is “Electronic Sports”, but don’t want to come across as out of touch? Then have no fear! We’ve enlisted the help of eminent eSports consultant, Carlton Ramsey, to put together a comprehensive eSports style guide. With nearly 3 months of eSports experience, he’ll have you ready to get up and CS:GO in no time!

STEP 1: Always the use the correct spelling of 'eSports'

As you should all know by now, “eSports” is the universally accepted, objectively correct spelling of the word. Capitalising the ‘S’ makes it sound cool, and techy, which are two things that youths enjoy MASSIVELY. It’s like iPhone, or iMac, or eBook - basically all the Apple products, actually, which as we all know are extremely cutting edge and very, very cool. The issue is, this presents a little bit of a problem when you want to start a sentence with the word “eSports”, the small e looks really dreadful after a full stop, and if you capitalise it you get the rather strange “ESports”. Here is my journalistic advice to you: simply do not do this. There is no viable alternative spelling to “eSports”. A lot of people (idiots) will tell you to spell it “esports”, but as I said - Apple, high-tech, youths, cool, et cetera, et cetera. As a workaround, if you ever find yourself wanting to start a sentence with “eSports” I’d advise you use one of the following completely interchangeable terms:

  • Digital Athletics
  • E-gaming (capital E, this is very important)
  • Cyber Sports

STEP 2: Always make sure to reference the harms of gaming addiction

One of the major challenges of eSports coverage is squaring the undeniably surging interest with the fact that video games are inherently corrupting and evil. In the interest of balance, make sure any documentary, editorial or interview you are involved in producing draws adequate attention to the huge problem that is gaming addiction. Draw a distinction between spending a lot of time getting really good at a video game, which is definitely addiction, and spending a lot of time getting good at a conventional sport, which definitely isn’t. This is because all conventional sports, without exception, involve strenuous physical activity, and this make it perfectly fine to spend hours and hours practicing them every single day, at the expense of relationships, health and academic pursuits. In this sense, eSports is in a completely different territory to real sports like Snooker, Darts and The Great British Bake Off. If in doubt, just talk about South Korea a bit. That usually does the trick. [caption id="attachment_72872" align="aligncenter" width="599"]thebakeoff eSports is OK, but it's no Bake Off...[/caption]

STEP 3: Remember: Everyone who like eSports is a nerd, so be sensitive!

Gamers aren’t like you and me. Their bodies are frail and weak, their skin a deathly white; they are cripplingly socially awkward, capable only of communicating in three word sentences at most, staring at their feet for the entire duration of the conversation. It’s very important that to appeal to this audience, you tiptoe around the latent character flaws that all gamers possess. So when describing Digital Athletes, avoid terms like “basement dweller”, “social outcast” and “sad loser”. Much better to describe them as “gaming savants”, “unconventional talents” or just “special”. Just because gamers are a bit strange, that doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of basic human kindness, people!

STEP 4: Don’t employ eSports experts to cover eSports

Many misguided individuals will tell you that the best people to report on eSports are the ones who spent years of their lives building up knowledge and growing the industry. This is wrong - these people are already far too involved in the industry to give a truly unbiased opinion. The best, tried-and-tested approach, is to send a complete eSports newbie to a big gaming tournament, and distil their incredulous reactions into an article or documentary. For great examples of the “Normal person reacts to weird eSports thing” genre, see this recent Guardian article, or this Vice documentary. Some really stellar coverage here - substantive, informative and above all, completely unbiased. Remember: it’s not as if eSports is a multi-million pound, rapidly-growing industry. It’s actually just a super-niche interest, with no decent journalists. None whatsover. All this makes eSports a perfect fit for the glib, smug, outsider-looking-in type coverage we all know and love! [caption id="attachment_72874" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Louis Theroux Louis Theroux: Probably the ideal eSports reporter[/caption]

STEP 5: Always re-open the debate: is Gaming a sport?

Are eSports real sports? Ask this question at least 5 times in any article you ever write about competitive gaming. Are eSports real sports? See, look, I just asked it again. Are eSports real sports? A third time - and it’s still engaging, it’s still making you want to read on. Are eSports real sports? Well I suppose that depends how you define a sport… Are eSports real sports? Look at the kind of people who play eSports, could they be considered athletes? Are eSports real sports? Are they? Are they? In the absence of anything meaningful to say, you can basically do this for 3000 words. And the result is always beautiful, flowing, search-engine optimised copy, sure to draw those all-important clicks from both normal, well-adjusted people and eSports obsessives alike. Are eSports real sports? Who knows, who knows. It’s a mystery.