There are many considerations developers need to be aware of when designing a game that’s meant to be played competitively, particularly if you have ambitions of becoming an eSport.
Greg Street, design director on League of Legends at Riot Games, shares some key advice from his experience on the wildly popular game:
- The pro personalities can be really important to the viewer or player experience. There was a huge surge in golf participation in the Tiger Woods era and a lapse in amateur tennis in recent years, which some people believe is a direct response to male pros with somewhat low charisma.
- Length of game is important, particularly as a scheduled event. While [mixed martial arts fighter] Ronda Rousey can get away with it, viewers generally want to watch an engagement that lasts more than a few minutes, but doesn’t drag on for hours.
- Viewers need to be able to orient themselves on the map to know what they are looking at. This is particularly true for video games that can have a lot of camera jumps from location to location. Giving viewers visual cues helps a ton; don’t just rely on a minimap.
- On League of Legends, we spend a lot of effort looking at game clarity. Part of this is affordance: does that spell look like a damage spell or a protective spell? But another part of it is just avoiding filling the screen with too many explosions at once, especially in a large team fight, which tend to be the most exciting moments of a game.
- Shoutcasting is a huge part of the eSports experience, but to be really effective, casters need some breaks in the action in which they can offer their explanations and analysis. League has a really good pacing for eSports. There is usually a quiet moment after a team fight or a turret destruction.
You can read more about designing a game for eSports with input from experts at Riot Games, Wargaming, the ESL and TaleWorlds in our in-depth analysis here.