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Episode 427 – Commander Planechase Awesomeness Live!

A few weeks ago the dorks all gathered at Brian’s house to play some Magic! And since we weren’t able to record this week for various reasons, you get to hear it now. Yay!

On this episode we began with a game of Commander Planechase. It went for just about an hour and was a fun and (relatively) fast game! After that, we decided to just say screw it and do another one. But this time Brian had the idea that we should each pick a deck built by someone else! So Brian & Chewie swapped decks, Mike & Dirk traded, and we went at it with an unfamiliar deck. This game was slightly more epic in length (about 2 hours) but I don’t remember it dragging or anything like that.

So strap in and enjoy a bunch of dorks playing Magic, picking on each other, giggling incessantly, and just having a good time. This is our first live episode with the new microphone, and I really think it turned out well. Let us know what you think!

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Intro & Outro Music – Diamond by Swift – https://myspace.com/swiftband
Break Music – I Drove All Night by The Protomen – http://www.protomen.com

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  1. Mark van Velzen
    July 18, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Hey guys, and Brian in particular. I love the Mana Pool and I think every one on it is a great guy, so when I heard Brian speak so dismissively about something I feel passionate about: E-sports, it kinda hurt and made me want to type something up for you, not in the understanding I’m going to convert your thinking, but to show you other ways of thinking about the relation between sports and video games. I’m a master student of Human Movement Sciences and have written an essay regarding the legitimacy of e-sports as a true sport. I’ll summarize some of the main points in this post.

    Defining sports is a very culturally influenced bit of thinking, so different people can and will hold different opinions. Nonetheless, I’ll try to establish a few concepts.

    Most traditional sports, and virtually all E-sports come from games. Suits (1988a) has defined a game as a voluntary attempt to overcome needless/useless obstacles. To play a game, one does not need to be motivated solely by fun. It can also be played to gain money, street cred, or whatever. The only thing players need to do to play a game is to keep attempting to overcome the useless obstacles a game presents them.

    But to make a game into a sport, it is usually agreed upon it needs ‘something extra’. The usual ‘extras’ agreed upon are:

    1. A game has to be physical in nature to be a sport.
    2. The game has to be based on skill in which one can improve
    3. The game needs to be agonal in nature, meaning that there has to be some sort of competition inherent to the game, against another, one self or even the elements
    4. Lastly there is the need for stability in game rules and a governing body to oversee this

    These are the four main ‘extras’ a game needs to become a sport. There are more and more complex extras but let’s keep these four main ones in mind and look at E-sports through this lens. I’ll quickly go by each one and provide examples why E-sports can comply to them.

    1. A game has to be physical in nature to be a sport.
    Because playing a video game and performing E-sports is usually done while sitting, and not physically strenuous in the sense that a 100m sprint is, video games can never be a sport right? This focus on physicality is usually the first thing people bring in against E-sports being a sport.

    In my essay I made a few arguments related to how people view the body and mind, I’ll spare you those. I’m only going to focus on the fact that physicality and the exercise intensity of a sport are two very different things. Video games are actually very physical in nature. You need your hands and arms, torso and head, brain and eyes and ears, to interface with the system and make specific actions happen in the virtual realm of the video game. Without one’s body, one cannot play video games. The fact that this is of a low exercise intensity is not important. There are myriad examples of recognized sports that are low in exercise intensity, yet still physical: Snooker, archery, darts and baseball are all like this.
    In this sense, chess is actually harder to defend as a sport than video games are, because one can have someone else play chess for them, and not need their ‘body’ to control the game in that sense. Yes I know of speed-chess, yes I know of the way of looking at ones body and mind as one whole, making the brain and thought processes physical. Still, on face value, video games are more of a sport than chess is in regards to the physicality argument.

    2. The game has to be based on skill in which one can improve
    This is an easy one right? Most video games are based on skill, and certainly all the ones considered for E-sports are. In the way that a pure game of dice in which you only gamble is unable to improve upon, E-sports games usually have a very high skill ceiling, think of League of Legends, Counter Strike, Starcraft and Street Fighter. Training schedules for pro gamers are equally as time-consuming as those of traditional athletes and require comparable amounts of time to achieve pro-status.

    3. The game needs to be agonal in nature
    Virtually all E-sports comply to this demand, because virtually all E-sports are based upon competing against an opposing player or team of players.

    4. Stability and institutionalization
    Certainly the toughest point for E-sports to comply to. New games are released, what’s popular, what’s not? Why are some games E-sports and some games are not? Who oversees it all?

    Stability regarding games is pretty good. Quality games that become popular are good options for becoming an E-sports game. If those games get competitively minded support from the creators and are fun to watch and easy to pick up by newer players, you’ve got an E-sport worthy game on your hands. Those games will float to the top and will become pillars of the E-sports community. To be fair, it’s not as stable as a long standing sport as football or athletics has been, but if one takes a step back and views the individual game ‘genres’ like fighter, fps and MOBA as the sports themselves, you could make the leap more easily.

    The institutionalization of E-sports in countries other than Korea is still somewhat fragmented and amateuristic. It could use some more government backing and the like, but companies have picked it up well and have created their own leagues and tournaments and such.

    My essay went on to disprove arguments against E-sports as a sport, but I’ll leave it at this for now.

    I hope I have been able to open your eyes at least a little bit to E-sports being eligible as real sports. Of course I understand this is a process and people will not accept E-sports overnight, but Korea and it’s model for E-sports gives me hope as to the possibilities. Thank you for your time!

    P. S. I loved the episode, live roundtable episoded have always been your niche in podcastland and I like it a lot 🙂

  2. Nathan
    July 18, 2016 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m imagining that every time you go to a new plane, Mike isn’t reading the card but is instead thumbing through a touristy guide book on the planes and reading the entries.

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