A New Generation of Esports Fan
TL;DR - Breakaway has the potential to bring new fans to esports who have never watched competitive gaming because of the simplicity and accessibility of the game, yet is complex enough for even the veteran fan to latch on to.
I'm one of those guys that grew up with video games. I grew up playing the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and CD, etc etc. If you had told me when I was a kid that one day there would be professional video game players... well... I probably would have played more video games! This whole esports thing is both fascinating and exciting to me - there are people out there that train as hard (if not harder) than other athletes and get to play video games competitively almost for a living. It's incredible.
Though what has come to be both funny and frustrating to me is explaining esports to "outsiders." I went to the SMITE World Championships last year and when I came back, my boss was asking me about my trip. "So... you sat in an auditorium and watched people play video games?" To be fair, it does sound ridiculous, but I've used it as a platform to educate with - "It's just like going to a football game - we have commentators, shot-by-shot analysis, fans with jerseys, screaming at good plays, cheering on your favorite team, etc." Equating esports to something they know seems to help people understand a bit better.
However, most of them don't take that next step to sit and watch a match. Some just may have no interest (like me and watching Basketball). But I feel like, for some, it can be incredibly overwhelming for some games.
Take any MOBA for example. For me, I play SMITE and have even done some very amateur casting of it. I have a deep understanding of the game, so watching it is easy for me. I know everything that's going on. But someone who has never played the game before, or maybe has never seen a MOBA before, will be completely lost. The basic idea is there - push in to your enemy base and destroy it to win. But everything else that is happening (the rotations, the buff camps, the team fights, the abilities, etc etc) it's incredibly overwhelming for someone who has never played (believe me, I've introduced many people to MOBAs).
This is where I think Breakaway is different. When I was playing at TwichCon with my boys in Defcon 5 ( ;) ), I spoke with a lot of other players, and we all tried to summarize the game. One of my favorite comparisons all week was "It's like Rugby with Respawn Timers." I thought "EXACTLY!" With games like American Football, or Rugby, or Aussie Rules, etc, no matter who you are, whether you've seen the game before, you know when a team is close to scoring and you know who is winning the match. In MOBAs, someone who has never seen the game may have no clue who is winning or losing. Even when I'm watching Competitive CS:GO, I sometimes have no idea who is ahead, what's going on, or even why that team just won.
I believe Breakaway could be a gateway for new esports fans - people that have never watched a competitive video game could be drawn to watch this with friends because it's easy to follow. Yes, the more you understand it, the more you get out of watching it (just like anything else), but I think that the simple game mechanic makes it extremely accessible to novice esports fans. Three simple rules: 1) take the relic to your enemy goal, you score. 2) kill all the players on the enemy team at once, you score. 3) Have the relic on the enemy side of the map when time expires, you score. I think that's easy enough for anyone to follow.
Of course, learning the in's and out's of all the characters makes the games more interesting just like any sport. Knowing that you have the best QB in the league going up against one of the best Corners in the game makes that match-up exciting. Knowing how Black Knight and Thorgrim are similar and yet different in how they play, makes the game more interesting. BUT for the uneducated novice, I think they are still able to follow the match and enjoy it. The chance to bring in new blood to an already thriving sport and to share this thing that I love with more people who love it - This to me is very exciting!
Watching Breakaway was the first time I ever watched any type of eSport, ever.
I fucking loved it.
Since then I've watched some League matches too. I'm not a big fan of league and have only played ~100 games since it came out. But man, watching other people play and listening to the announcers was awesome. I got hyped.
I think a huge draw to me when watching Breakaway was the great job the broadcasters were doing. Really drew me in.
So, yeah, what you said was spot on. I'll have to read the <novel> part later since I'm at work, but wanted to voice my opinion of your opening sentence before I forgot =)
@Ixath I absolutely think that casters are key when it comes to enjoying watching a game - they can make or break it! One of the reason I love watching SMITE Pro Leagues (other than because I play the game) is because the casters are really good at calling the game. And it's not just during the parts where things are happening (like team fights or scoring goals, etc), but during the slow parts, too. Believe me, I've heard some really boring casters before. The ones at TwitchCon did a great job!
But it's very cool to hear that you're a first timer! I'd love to hear more about what you enjoyed about watching the game. I'm looking forward to showing this game to some of my non-gamer friends to see if they get in to it.