With impending changes in esports and all the challenges that arise from them when it comes to predicting future audience growth, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict capabilities the industry will need to have in order to respond to the demands of tomorrow. These capabilities include all kinds of revisions to the existing ways of interaction with the audience.
But there’s something to be said about a faculty that is not changing, because it has a good reason not to. It’s design, a contagious part of the body of esports that deserves an objective analysis. It has history intertwined with the design tradition in sports as we know it. If you suggest an idea that it organically migrated from sports to esports, you won’t be far from the truth.
Of course, there can be miles of longread with the emphasis on the impact of look development on tournaments’ banners and merch. But the real dilemma and, at the same time, difference from traditional sports design is how design impacts the target audience.
Regardless whether you are a sports fan or a person who couldn’t care less about sports, if you see a football club emblem, you almost immediately recognize the big picture its design was created for. That is sports and we can hardly confuse it with anything else really. The same cannot always be said of esports. Reality often puts the industry artists in a precarious position when it comes to designing anything in esports. On one hand, an artist is ought to create something gamers and lovers of videogames are going to recognize and associate with their favourite gaming experiences. On the other hand, the record shows that uninitiated public that encounter the Internet content devoted to esports events usually shrug their shoulders at the sight of weird icons and esports identics. Everything is flashy and cool, but… foreign. It doesn’t cause estrangement of the viewers of course, but it definitely causes them to move on to whatever they’d been intending to do, before they stumbled upon that ad that was uncalled for.
So it’s about seeing this big picture the audience is going to react to by staying in front of the screens.
And this beat is not exclusive for esports alone. Talk to the designers in various fields and notice how this is often a common thread for all of them. Big picture always requires teamwork. And by team here we’re not talking about a team of designers, because designers often aren’t the only ones who create a vision. Marketers, developers, researchers, and people of other fields all participate in the process. And this is where teams often fail. A simple mistake of creating a gunk of classical sports designs and contemporary trends, and then viewing it as a win button is what new businesses often go to. To understand plainly, it is actually about traditional design patterns and new trends, but the focus on both target groups is essential in this.
From a big picture standpoint, having people outside esports as a marketing priority is the way to go. We always find a way to adapt designs to the ones in DOTA 2 and Counter Strikes. Iconic characters and guns are iconic, because they’re known to the public that sit in droves in front of TV screens watching how their favourite teams compete in international tournaments. Exclude non-esports-folk out of your marketing strategy and all of a sudden it’s not efficient anymore. But when, for instance, your local esports team’s outfit matches well with an outfit of your local sports team, people who are not familiar with esports are going to take notice with partiality you’d ideally expect. If your esports team’s name sounds like an NBA team’s, it works well too. Right association is what your business has no right to fail at.
There are several reasons why design can fail. One of the more important ones is that resources for researchers and marketers aren’t provided, and designers are the ones who end up brainstorming the whole brand creation from beginning to end. As a result, the workload put on designers is more than substantial. A dangerous road to take for a company.
However wrong design strategy can be, there’s no reason to assume you can’t get your esports design right. Why? Design field of esports is very unconventional. Many would be surprised to find out that most professional designers and artists, who spent years working in other fields, consistently fail in esports upon being introduced to it. Conventional designs don’t work in esports, and no wonder design here is often the burden of the artists who have never designed a thing outside esports in their entire life. They became professional esports artists within the confines of industry’s requirements.
27 Nerds have a dedicated team of artists and designers, who first hand came to know of design issues new businesses face today. Teams like this one realize the importance of setting a business on the right track early on, making sure the brand is seen both by the viewers and those who are reached via the vast arsenal of means industry has at its disposal. Being a starter can hinder the growth of business. This is why companies like 27 Nerds exist. Someone needs to account for the questions you can’t answer and the ones you didn’t think to ask at the doorstep of the business arena that is called esports.