Hello again, one & all... how's the good life treating you? I hope the days and nights have found you well since last we spoke. Today, we need to talk about everyone's second favorite subject: MONEY. You see, neither money nor the love of it is the root of all evil for us.
Over the last few months, I've had the distinct pleasure of taking my involvement in the FGC to a considerably higher level. Before, I was just a 'weekend warrior': I was one of those guys who would show up on Saturday afternoon at majors & just float around with no tangible idea of what was really going on around me. I did it because a) I love fighting games, b) it's a great way to spend your Saturday and c) you always meet interesting people at majors. Suffice it to say, really hard not to have a good time in that kind of atmosphere. One thing I was always astounded by at majors, though, were money matches. It was surreal to see so much cash change hands over the outcome of a simple game.
Growing up, I would see that type of behavior regarding professional football, poker, pickup basketball & the like. It just wasn't something I could quantify in regards to gaming. Perhaps because of the lack of physical activity or maybe the fact that I always equated gaming with fun (not business), but, lo & behold, there I was watching some serious bank change hands over the events of not even a five minute span. Mind you, this was all before I found out about the side betting, cash prizes & pot bonuses.
Fast forward a few years, I find myself on a team that takes part in majors on a regular basis. Matter of fact, I cut my proverbial teeth at ECT in May. With the experience of a few locals under my belt, I was ready for the quote unquote "real thing". It was as this moment that the economic side of things started to become more evident to me. Simply put, and I already know how insipid this is going to sound, but all that doing takes a considerable about of money. Sure, you hear about the pot bonuses that the sponsors donate, but none of that money goes to the production itself. So yeah, when you see the pre-reg fees, the signup charges, spectator costs... understand that it goes towards the event.
This is where the problem arises. Recently, I've noticed a few unpleasant trends within our community regarding how both the players & even some organizers perceive how the economics of a tournament play out. First off, understand that the tournament organizers are not there to cater to anyone. They have their responsibilities to uphold and, if they feel generous enough to do so, they'll contribute to the pot bonus in order to add incentive for that game's participation. However, they aren't doing it because they feel indebted to the players. They run the events, secure the venue, organize online streaming, assist with accomodations... ALL for the players. With that being said, prize money depends solely on participation. In other words, the players are ultimately responsible for that. What gets put in determines what can be taken away.
On the flipside of things, but staying on the topic of organizers, very poor decisions can be made. I've been witness to laughable scheduling, piss poor advertising/promotion and simply horrid organization. You cannot hope to achieve anything on a professional level (be it major or minor) if you can't get your ducks in a row. The best events are the best because they are organized & handled at a level of efficiency that rivals some businesses. And on the subject of business, if you are planning to run a tournament, do NOT view it as an opportunity to break even. The money collected from venue & spectator fees are for the winners of your event. If you're looking to cut overhead or something like that, look somewhere else.
Finally, I have to address the players themselves. Ladies & gentlemen, you -are- the FGC... these events cannot take place without you. However, that does not grant you free reign to any sense of entitlement. Let's be perfectly honest with ourselves here, we play video games as a hobby. We play because we enjoy it, because it grants us a sense of escapism from our day-to-day grind. So don't go thinking that you engaging in your hobby means that you're the center of anybody's world. And for anyone who feels like bringing up sponsored players, understand that those chosen few are only in the position because they dedicated themselves to their craft and an outside entity sought their services to expand the reach of their brands. Sponsorship does not guarantee a free ride by any means. If you don't produce for them, you get dropped not unlike a bad habit. Remember that whenever you find yourself glamorizing the idea.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.