Starcraft is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game; although that description does not really do justice to something that has become a worldwide gaming phenomenon. Starcraft really is a phenomenon in the world of gaming, but not in the way that Angry Birds is a phenomenon. Comparing Angry Birds to Starcraft is like comparing the Wiggles to the Rolling Stones.
There is a professional world series with serious prize money and, in some countries, rock-star status for the winners. People actually make a living playing this game – albeit in the same way some people make a living as a professional swimmer while many millions more do not. It is some indication of the sophistication of the game and dedication of the professional players that a very good Starcraft player will perform 250-300 actions per minute in the game: And these are not mindless repetitive actions they are considered and very strategic decisions. That’s a combination of a concert pianist’s fingering and a computer’s multitasking focus. Scientists use the game for studies in multitasking and it is used by the American military in their officer training program.
Blizzard has now announced a partnership with the Australian Cyber League to host the Australia National and Oceania Finals the weekend of August 11th and 12th at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney. Featuring the top 18 players from Australia and New Zealand, the weekend will be the largest eSports event Blizzard has hosted in the region with a combined prize pool of US$25,000. Saturday kicks off the completion of the Australia Nationals which will crown this year’s best Australian StarCraft players. Their chance to celebrate will be short-lived though as the top six Australian players will clash with the top two New Zealand players in the Oceania Finals on Sunday. The two finalists coming out of the event will then go on to represent the region in the Battle.net World Championship in China later this year.
Tickets for the Sydney event sold out in 15 minutes but there are some give-aways available and there’s a live video stream. Full details at the Australian Cyber League site.
In the meantime there’s an interesting article here on how scientists are using Starcraft to understand multitasking and the development of deep expertise.