A Guest Rant from Diane “Courtalia” Lapierre

A comment from Soul before we begin: Hi Gang! So recently things have REALLY not been going well for me. Job issues, book issues, that kind of thing. So I decided to hand over the DW soapbox for the week so here is a Damn Write! Guest Rant from a cool friend of mine. I’ll be back soon when I am in a better frame of mind. Hope you enjoy!

Maine Gamer

by Diane “Courtalia” Lapierre

eSports enthusiast and a Mainer? Not an easy combination. High tech video game competitions and a rural setting don’t mix well. Living in a state where less than 10% of the population has the most current and effective internet connection makes it hard to run a tournament for a game that requires 10 players on PCs all on the same internet connection. And by hard, I mean nearly impossible. Sure, a college campus may be equipped to handle this but that is about it.

To be blunt, anyone who wants to play an online game competitively needs to get out of Maine or any other rural area they may be in. If you were to start competing with others, your connection would prohibit you from being able to keep up with them. You could be the best player in the world, but if you’re competing from a slow connection, it doesn’t matter.

It may not be this way forever. In the last few years, Maine has actually made considerable process in becoming more connected. Initiatives like the Maine Broadband Coalition have been pivotal in this. But Maine’s very nature as an agricultural region combined with a generally older population makes the state slow to adapt to new technologies…and this, unfortunately, includes eSports. Yet, there are people in the state who are genuinely dedicated to seeing Maine become a hotbed for video games. We’re now home to several small development companies and an equally small gaming expo.

But not all eSports are played online, are they? Playing, say, a fighting game on a console doesn’t require any internet connection but is just as competitive as a 5v5 League of Legends match. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, even Super Smash Bros tournaments can pull attendances in the thousands with just as much prize money on the line. In rural areas the turn outs won’t be as high but at least you can actually have the event. To me, this is like a gateway eSport. Anyone anywhere can play a fighting game. And as that eSports enthusiast living in a rural setting, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate fighting games. The game I love the most, will always be League of Legends. But the fact I can go to a video game tournament in Maine, at all, excites me. And a lot of them are pretty good events.

Maybe I’m just an optimist but I like to think supporting these events and the popularity of video games in general, especially in areas where their presence doesn’t saturate society, is what is going to bring greater gaming and eSports accessibility. It may be cheesy but I dream of a day where everyone has a gaming lounge or modern arcade within reasonable driving distance.

At the end of the day, right now, the die-hard gaming enthusiasts are better served living elsewhere. But I love my small but local gaming scene. It might not be big and flashy like it is in Bay Area California (they literally have a video game museum, how cool is that?) but its here and it has nowhere to go but up?

Diane is the Chair of Nor’Easter Gaming Expo

You can find Soul Tsukino’s site and Fiction work (forthe love of all that’s holy please BUY A BOOK) at: http://www.soultsukino.info/

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