Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Starcraft 2 commentary

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Sports commentary was never my thing. It’s only when I started watching Starcraft 2 commentators a few months ago (mainly Day9, Force and Husky) that I’ve really started to find game commentary interesting.

Starcraft 2 is a competitive game that is played between people. In most professional games it is played 1 vs 1, and players aim to make the right choices between building up an economy and using that economy to build up different types of armies and air forces.

The game is pretty complex, and it’s often difficult for someone who is watching a professional game to understand the full significance of the professional’s actions. What the commentators do is to describe the game choices in the appropriate context, informing the viewer not only about the choice that was picked, but also the choices that were not picked.

In order for commentators to be able to do this, they need to have a certain depth of knowledge about the game themselves. The knowledge is necessary but not sufficient for someone to be a competitive player – it takes significant physical training and skill to execute some of the maneuvers, something which is measured in-game by the number of actions per minute (APM) the players are sending the game. I also imagine the type of insight needed to weave a good story is not the same as the type of insight needed to play well. For one thing, there are three species in Starcraft 2 and most professionals specialize to one, but commentators need to be familiar with all three.

At the end of the day, it’s storytelling and analysis as entertainment. Day9 often pokes fun at the fact that a lot of the people watching his show probably don’t play much Starcraft 2 at all. It’s when he mentioned this that I realized it’s really not that different from football commentary.

In this clip, Day9 talks about how the canon of standard strategies changes over time. I think it’s interesting because it really speaks to a bit of what I experience in the financial markets. Some of the terminology is very game-specific, but you should be able to get the gist of things.