Caught between a rock and a hard place

The debate over whether to hold the 2007 Games Xtreme League (GXL) Season 01 Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne league in a traditional solo format or a clan based format has revealed the sometimes antagonistic relationship between the community, organizers and sponsors.

The discussion over the play format started out innocently. GXL Game Master Andrei opened the thread by asking for feedback on the rules and ideas to improve the WC III TFT league. The debate started out innocently enough, with community members speaking out in support of either the solo or clan base format.

However, the thread quickly derailed into a heated debate of who was to blame for the current state of the WC III TFT community:  the players for lacking professionalism and a hunger to win; or the organizers and sponsors for not creating a conducive environment for the players to train, compete and improve.

GXL community member KeWeLL[7] certainly agrees with the latter view. He believes that the organizers have an opportunity to motivate players to become champions, but are instead questioning the mentality of the Singaporean gamer.

KeWeLL[7] wrote, “So do we just sit back and wait for a Fatality or a Sky to emerge in Singapore? Or should we try our best to make the community as conducive as possible to groom and facilitate talents?”

In many cases, tournament organizers do have the interests of the community at heart. Many of the organizers of video game tournaments were themselves gamers at some point in time and can relate to what the community wants.

Unfortunately, more often than not, the organizers have their hands tied by the sponsors. Big name sponsors might seem to be generous by providing much needed funding for production costs and prizes, but in the end, business is still business.

Sponsors will want to know that the cash or kind that they have put into the tournament have paid off by fostering good will with a large amount of people. As Andrei puts it, “The first thing is to fulfill the expectations of the sponsors – give them the quantity of registered players they expect to see.”

No guesses for how quickly sponsors would pull the plug on their support if only a handful of people participate in their sponsored tournaments. Andrei probably had this in mind when he said in a later post, “If (the) community is not going to support the organizers, we will drop the game altogether.”

Yet, the community is seldom aware of the kind of wrangling that organizers often go through with sponsors, vendors and contractors to ensure that the community gets the best possible tournament. When you do a good job, the community expects that subsequent events will be at a similar standard. When the sponsors don’t put in enough support to keep up that expectation, the organizers get blamed instead.

GXL forum user IZECUBEZ only got it half right when he said: “Thus the vicious cycle of sponsors waiting on good players and good players waiting on sponsors continues.”

What was missing was that the organizers often find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.

Have your say. Add your comments: