Here’s an excellent piece to send to all your friends and relatives who neither understand eSports nor how you spend time watching or playing. It starts by explaining how complex StarCraft is.
The New Yorker writes: “StarCraft, a video game, is often compared to chess: it is strategic and extremely difficult, requiring a mathematical cast of mind, and, unlike many other video games, with their scrolling or first-person vantages, it affords a bird’s-eye perspective of the board, or map. But the analogy breaks down in countless ways. The map changes from game to game. (In this instance, it was called Habitation Station, and shaped somewhat like a butterfly.) Instead of black or white, players choose from among three “races,” called Zerg, Terran, and Protoss, with different strengths and vulnerabilities. In the early stages, players cannot see one another’s armies, and must dispatch scouts to illuminate darkened corners; they must also develop economies, with which to fund the inevitable battles. It’s as if Garry Kasparov had to plot a pawnless endgame while simultaneously harvesting minerals, building fuel extractors, and searching in vain for Spassky’s queen. Academic researchers now use StarCraft II—the “drosophila” of brain science, as one paper suggested—when studying people who expertly perform cognitively complex tasks. Chess may soon be eclipsed as the standard-bearer of competitive I.Q.”
But the piece mainly serves to profile Sasha Hostyn — a.k.a. Scarlett — one of the top female gamers: “The most accomplished woman in the young history of electronic sports.”