In contrast, StarCraft 2 is a still living, breathing game—despite long standing rumours stressing the opposite—and throughout those ten years of history I have been deeply and personally involved with it. As someone used to dealing with the rather sparse amount of information about the ancient world, data overload is a serious luxury problem for me, as is personal attachment. So, since I cannot deliver an objective treatise on ten years of StarCraft 2, because to my embarrassment I do not know where to begin, what to include and how to string it all together at the end, please indulge me as I dive further into that problem: personal connection. Why does a video game mean so much to me that I find myself unable to deal with it in a more professional manner, despite having the training to do so?
Much of who I am today can be traced back to StarCraft 2 one way or another. As a little boy—think Elementary School—I was an outgoing rascal, but that trait turned to the opposite the older I got, to the point of extreme in my teens. Shunning most social activities, I preferred books and video games. Looking back, I did overdo it a bit and missed out on some things, objectively speaking. But I was in love, you see. Her name was Wings of Liberty and she was good to me. There was this tournament called GSL that I religiously followed, you had to download a Korean media player called GOM Player to even watch it. Or, rather, watch, what looked more like a bunch of random pixels being puked all over my screen, which we had to suppose were matches of SC2 being played. You couldn’t be sure in those days.
During the Beta of the game I had joined the community of one of the big three German casters at the time, known as HomerJ. The others were TaKe and Khaldor, both known better internationally. His website and forum included a news section, where articles about the GSL and other tournaments were posted, which I loved to read. Soon, the news came out less consistently and I started missing it. The writer had some exams at university, apparently, and thus had had no time to write stuff. You can see where this goes? Yeah, I did it for him. That’s where I got my start as a writer. It turned out to be incredible fun. Indeed, that community and team provided me with that social component I had so neglected in my daily life. My role became bigger and more substantial with time, until I essentially filled what was the biggest SC2 community site in the German language with front-page content all by myself. I kept busy.
Tournament previews and recaps, announcements for our own events, news about player moves and whatever drama there was: our site was the first and most consistent where you could read this stuff in German. Imagine the amount of content they had here on TL back then, during the hottest days of StarCraft 2—I matched that. Since I was still at school, I had enough time to do it, and the early days at university also proved less hindering than I thought. I am still rather proud of the work I did back then, though everything is lost to time now. At gamescom 2013 I finally met all the team members and many people in our community for the first time. We had a stage there, where we held SC2 matches. This was a crucial moment for my life, because shy me had to deal with an unimaginable crowd of fans coming to our shows. Can you believe they wanted all team members to sign their SC2 copies? Yeah, I gave autographs that year. Crazy. All I did was write about people playing a video game, and people knew my nickname and wanted me to sign their stuff. What the hell. I gained confidence from that. Experience. At the start of the trip I had been on my own for so long that I stuttered any time I tried to speak to someone. I was coming home a changed person.
Of course, SC2 declined in popularity and our chief had a short attention span. He got into this side project and that one, never sticking with one thing for long, squandering the patience of the portion of the community still into SC2, which eventually migrated on. In 2015, I moved on as well. First to a site called Bonjwa, founded by fellow former team member and pro gamer Honor. They are actually a big German streaming channel nowadays, still doing SC2 tournaments from time to time. Simultaneously, I joined the writing staff here at TLnet. I had never much written in English, but back when I started writing in earnest, my goal was to someday publish stuff on TL. I thought, why the hell not? If not now, then never. Sometimes taking a leap like that works out—another thing I learned.
Soon as I knew it, I wrote BlizzCon and Proleague previews and what not, a dream come true. A year later, these mad men flew me out to Katowice and Anaheim to do live coverage at events there. Those were my first flights ever. A grand adventure. I also started to go to HomeStory Cups, having the time of my life there. If you ever get the chance to do the same, grab it. It’s paradise. When I went to university, I started to take Korean lessons. You know why. Made some great friends there who made my life better as well. All due to a video game I am not even good at, ironically. I’ve just been watching it for ten years, writing about it along the way. We had our ups and downs, but that's how relationships are.
Sure, it’s objectively just a game, and deep down I know that. But to me, StarCraft 2 is just so much more than that: it's an old friend, mentor and community all in one. It provided me with life experiences and memories I never would've made otherwise, and changed me to be a better person. When I feel like shit, it reaches out with a hand and pulls me back up—be it via a tournament I can lose my worries over, or by having blessed me with a second family that I can reach out to. Two years ago, when some rather unhappy things happened to me, you guys and girls quite literally saved my life. I was in that kind of dark place, and you helped me come back out of it. This game and this scene have shaped me into who I am today, from an awkward and shy 15-year old to a bit less awkward and shy 25-year old, who has seen places, met people and made experiences he never would have otherwise. I am absolutely convinced that my life is better for it, and I'm very thankful.
Have I overshared here? Perhaps. It does feel a bit embarrassing to admit owing so much to a game, to people I'll never meet. But I know I am not alone. I am sure some of you can see yourselves in this story, at least a bit. And that’s the beautiful thing, isn’t it? We are all here together because of this game, on the same journey. I am glad to be part of it with you. All that, because I really wanted to read a GSL preview that was overdue, so I did it myself. Best decision of my life, really.
Thanks for everything and happy birthday, StarCraft 2! May you live to see many more, old friend, and may we all be here to celebrate together.