As streaming on Twitch is becoming almost as common place as binging on Netflix, the most watched team games are becoming sports in their own right. Professional players come from very competitive communities, adding a whole new level of complexity and strategy to a game. Most of the work in the top e-sports games is done after launch, and they become “real” to the public once the community starts adding their contributions.
The games made by designers such as Eugene Jarvis were meant for public consumption and placed in very competitive environments. The fact that the purpose of local leaderboards was bragging rights introduced a whole new way of social interaction.
You’ll see this symbol quite a lot in the ‘Jarvis Project’
As the “single player competitive scene” triumphed with the rise of the arcades, it also created defining genres that still live on as classics. Those games were easy to pick up and hard to master, offering a unique challenge in each large box with a quarter price tag. They were, in a sense, the real microtransactions of their time. Not convinced?
A game like Defender ended up making in excess of a billion dollars, mostly due to being as difficult as it is, like Eugene Jarvis put it.
The current indie scene still loves these hard genres and the competitive scene is very responsive to a good “system-to-beat” when they find one. Look at the Binding of Isaac: a very strong community competes for bragging rights and prizes in self-funded events. As fans flock to Twitch for a larger team-based tournaments, the viewership for “single player e-sports” is thriving with older games that were never designed for competitive play.
A large number of recent games are designed with e-sports ambition, but in the end the community decides if they deserve that title. Classic genres are yet to bring forth individual celebrities, but due to the insane success of streaming, that outcome seems inevitable.
When we got a chance to make a game with Eugene Jarvis, it felt like we needed to really honor classic gameplay mechanics and figure out how to bring the spirit of the arcade halls to the streaming era. Instead of lurking over someone’s shoulder as they were sweating out an intense session, gamers could now be watching high score runs online.
The difficulty in giving that local feel on a much wider platform is a challenge that we are constantly working on. For now we know that our peers enjoy the yet-to-be-officially-named “Jarvis Project” in an office setting (check the video and see for yourself), but we can’t wait to bring it to the hardcore community next. To us it’s all about reinvigorating our way of looking at competitive arcade games and also getting to challenge Mr. Jarvis on his turf.