The blue and white Avant-Garde
Let me tell you a little story. My father was born in 1964. He was raised in Dresden and became a locksmith. After he married my mother, I was the first child of this new family. After we moved to a new town, I quickly made new friends, who had, other than I, own PCs with videogames on them. They used to drag them to a friend’s home and make LAN parties all night. This was a multiple form of protest against their parenthood, not only would they stay up all night, they also would play all those fancy shooters, that weren’t allowed at their homes.
Needless to say, I wanted to be a part of this. And here lured the problem. To be part of the all-night-extravaganza I needed a PC and to get a PC I needed money from my father. He, however, raised obviously without the magic and the danger of the internet and electronic amusement, didn’t quite get the idea how pleasing it sounded to the ears of a 13-year-old boy to stay up until he would pass out in front of a screen, playing violent games that obviously weren’t made for children.
Years passed, I worked and got a PC, went on against the will of my parents and participated at LANs in my village and eventually got into esport. Oh boy, let me tell you, it wasn’t easy telling my father that I was producing shoutcasts for a virtual game; that there was a professional scene evolving around the idea, that playing games was worth to be considered a competitive task, just like traditional sports.
Traditional sports were one of the few links over that my father and I could connect. We went to several Bundesliga-matches, the first national league in Germany. We usually would watch the matches of the German national team together in front of the TV, waving emotionally between the anger about a wrong decision of the referee and the joy of a scored goal.
Recently, the news hit, that FC Schalke 04, one of the organizations that is regularly competing in said Bundesliga, would pick up the roster and the LCS-spot of Elements. While other esport outlets are baffled about the resources, the great youth-development program and the $64 million income that are behind that blue and white avant-garde, I personally had another perspective in mind.
Finally, I would be able to make a connection between my father and the passion that defines my life. If we expect Schalke 04 to be only the first of many big brands a sports-companies to enter esport, it would be possible to show my father, and all of his generation, a LCS-match without having to explain, why the teams are called “Elements” or “Giants”, where they are from and what they do. If they are known brands involved, if I can just say “Its Bayern Munich against Schalke!”, the older generation feels involved, they feel like they are in the know. Approaching and exploring new things is always a stretch, especially if you are an old person. But If there is an “entry”, a brand or an organization that someone trusts and is used to, it gets far more likely that they will give it a try.
With the acquisition of a LCS-team Schalke 04 not only is on the verge of “mainstreaming” esport, they also validate it as something that isn’t just a bubble, that isn’t just a phase of a not-yet-gown-up industry. Maybe, if we look back in a couple of years, we talk about 2016 where esport “went mainstream”, I, however, would like to remember it as the year that finally made esport accessible to all generations.