Tuesday, March 2, 2021

In Another League

Three weeks ago, when I read this interview with the BBC's Steffan Powell over at Gamesindustry.biz, I thought sure, that's fine, but you're "Radio 1 Newsbeat's gaming reporter". Your target audience is fifteen to twenty-nine year olds. Of course you're going to take gaming seriously. 

Just hearing the argument voiced by a representative of the media giant's most teen/young adult-oriented station risks undermining the argument that "The oil tanker is turning in terms of the mainstream media's approach to games”, doesn't it? 

Powell makes the point, repeatedly, that he can be 'parachuted in' to offer his insights to other parts of the network, but when he says things like "If a story is appropriate for other bits of the Beeb, we share it. She's a big beast, the BBC, and it can be quite confusing..." it doesn't entirely give off a vibe of everyone in the corporate monolith being on the same level, to use a gaming metaphor. Or even the same page.

I'm not for one moment denying there has been a change in attitude towards gaming in the media. I'd say that, as a general topic, it's treated not too differently now from the way popular music was treated in the '80s and '90s. Enough people in enough senior positions have grown up with it to understand at least a little about it and to realize that even if it's not something they personally enjoy, other people of their age and educational background find it engaging.

Gaming is still some way from where pop music sits in the media cycle today. These days even relatively minor musicians, people who had, at best, cult followings when they were alive or who enjoyed two or three hit records anyone's likely to temember, are deemed worthy of sizeable obituaries in the quality press. Anyone who ever had a session on the John Peel show is pretty much guaranteed a documentary.

You don't quite need to be the gaming equivalent of David Bowie or Elvis to get that kind of treatment in the mainstream but you probably have to at least be Leonard Cohen. Gaming to the media still means violence, gambling and addiction. Actually maybe that's not such a stretch from the way they cover popular music after all...

I read that article three weeks ago and promptly forgot about it. I certainly wouldn't be writing about it now, if it wasn't for one thing.

This morning I clicked on my bookmark for the cricket coverage at BBC Sport. I wasn't sure if the fourth Test with India started tomorow or Friday. It didn't say on the main page so I clicked the link that said "Live cricket coverage on the BBC". 

That took me to a page that very helpfully told me "

The BBC not only covering the League of Legends UK Championships but selecting the final as recommended viewing? Placing it between Premier League and European football? Giving it that degree of equivalency and legitimacy?


  1. Dang, next thing you know they'll be playing K/DA videos during breaks in the action or something....

    1. Heh! Not being a LoL player I had to google K/DA. Thanks for that!

    2. I'm not an LOL player either, but I recently have been on a k-pop kick. I heard of K/DA last November when people were comparing the new group called "aespa" to them, but I didn't actually look up a K/DA vid until January sometime. I like it well enough, but my 11-yr old daughter who's obsessed with animation and 9-tailed foxes is now completely in love with the Ahri character so it feels like she's constantly got "Pop Stars" and "More" and "I'll Show You" running on her iPad.

  2. Wow. Just... wow.

    Oh, I can imagine the die hard sports fans blowing a gasket over this. I remember "traditional" sports fans/commentators in the US going bananas over here in the States when ESPN showed Heroes of the Storm coverage in "dead time" on ESPN2 in mid-Summer.

    But being put between the EPL and the rest of the European Leagues? Holy Crap. League truly has arrived.

    1. I'd be curious to know the viewing figures. I suspect it has as much to do with the incredibly competetive market in broadcast sports rights as in any newfound belief in eSports at the BBC. But then, back in the days when everyone watched the same three or four tv channels, the BBC turned several hitherto ignored sports (snooker, showjumping, skiing...) into national obsessions. Maybe someone thinks they can do it again with an online audience.

  3. Will last exactly as long as the pandemic sports lockdowns.


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