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What is your impression when you hear the term “competitive gaming”? Do you picture a handful of noisy and angry kids yelling at each other? A group of unkempt slobs sitting around a TV with one hand on the controller and the other in a bag of chips? Or do you think of highly motivated individuals with fast reflexes and complex strategic thinking?
A few of us here at MakeUseOf are fans of esports, especially games like competitive Overwatch. It might seem like a childish activity only pursued by video game addicts who don’t actually want to work for a living, but the reality is far different from what you might expect.
About a year ago, we had high hopes for esports in 2013 and it does seem like competitive gaming is on a steady rise. For those who are interested in learning what competitive gaming is really about, here are some of the best documentaries on the subject that you can watch for free online.
King of Chinatown
Created by Calvin Theobald and released in 2011, King of Chinatown is a documentary that follows Justin Wong, one of the most famous players in the world of fighting games, as he fights his way to the top in the Street Fighter IV community. Years later, Justin Wong is still one of the most prominent figures in the scene and continues to win tournaments to this day.
Despite the violence inherent in fighting games, it’s interesting to see how the community itself differs from the game. Though there will always be the bad apples in the bunch, the general sense is that the members of the fighting game scene train hard, respect one another, and simply love the game.
King of Chinatown is available to watch for free on Hulu and Amazon Prime Instant.
It’s impossible to talk about eSports without mentioning Starcraft at some point or another. The game, which was released back in 1998, is still being played today at a competitive level and it’s hard to imagine where eSports would be today (if it would exist at all) without the enthusiasm of Starcraft fans, especially those in Korea.
In fact, the legacy of Starcraft had such a cultural impact that it spurred National Geographic to create an hour-long documentary on the subject. Titled WCG 2005, it follows the progression of Starcraft in the 2005 World Cyber Games, which is an annually held international eSports tournament.
Starcraft WCG 2005 is available for free on YouTube and it will give you a glimpse into the world of professional gaming and the people who compete at international skill levels.
Though Starcraft was once the king of all eSports, that title now belongs more appropriately to League of Legends, a free-to-play game that boasts over 12 million active daily players, making it one of the most popular games on the planet. Despite what you may think of the game itself, there’s no denying that Riot Games has pushed and developed the landscape of competitive gaming.
The CLG Documentary provides a deeper insight into one of the best teams in League of Legends history: Counter Logic Gaming. It’s a must watch for any fan of the game’s competitive scene, but even those who have never played the game (like me) will find it informative and enjoyable.
The CLG Documentary is available for free on YouTube as a series of four episodes, each approximately 10 minutes long,
If you’ve ever owned a Nintendo 64, a Nintendo GameCube, or a Nintendo Wii, then there’s a good chance you’ve played or know someone who’s played some version of Super Smash Brothers. It’s a delightful fighting game that hosts a cast of characters that come from a variety of Nintendo franchises.
It was originally designed to be a party game with no intention of being an eSports title, but players discovered a few “glitches” that opened up a wide range of maneuvers that required mechanical coordination and strategic timing, resulting in deeper and more rewarding gameplay. This documentary explores the competitive Super Smash Brothers scene from the inside out.
The Smash Brothers is available for free on YouTube as a series of nine episodes that are each approximately 20 minutes long.
Free to Play
Free to Play is a documentary published by Valve Software that’s currently in post-production phase. Though it hasn’t been released yet, Free to Play is a highly anticipated look at the world of Dota 2, Valve’s faithful recreation of the original Defense of the Ancients mod that influenced both League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth.
In particular, it explores The International, a worldwide tournament with a prize purse exceeding $1 million USD and some of the best production quality of any gaming tournament to date.
Nobody knows when Free to Play is going to be available, but many speculate that it will be released within the coming months. Since Valve is behind its production, you can reasonably expect it to have a quality higher than almost every eSports documentary released up to this point.
I believe that competitive gaming is often misunderstood by those who aren’t already entrenched in it and these documentaries can show that the whole concept is not as silly as it might sound at first. In fact, you can watch competitive gaming online for free right from your home. If you’ve never been a big fan of eSports, why not give it a try?
What other eSports documentaries have you seen that can be watched for free online? Share them with us in the comments!
Image Credits: Denis Dervisevic Via Flickr