Calgary gamers get together at sports bar to watch Major League Gaming event.

A new global phenomenon began this summer. Instead of watching UFC or hockey while enjoying your weekly wings and beer, people are gathering to watch Major League Gaming (MLG) events featuring Starcraft 2, where three alien species battle for salvation.

This event is called, Barcraft.

Calgary will be having its first ever Barcraft meetings on Oct. 16 at both Ceili’s Irish Pub and Dobson’s Restaurant and Bar.

Daniel Stiefvater, long time local eSport player, sees this event as an opportunity to meet other local players and to let non-gamers see what all the fuss is about.

“It’s easy to see what I would look forward to at the event,” Stiefvater said. “Being a competitor of Starcraft 2 myself, I’m interested in watching top level players from all around the world compete at MLG events.Bars and video games are an unlikely combination. Photo: Michael Chan

“Experiencing this Starcraft 2 competition with others makes it that much more enjoyable. Barcraft provides a unique opportunity for everyone to get together and enjoy something, which in turn strengthens the community,” he said.

The original Starcraft is a real-time strategy video game. This requires quick thinking and planning in order to successfully defeat your opponent.

The addition of Starcraft 2 into MLG’s lineup has sparked a craze among gamers, which ultimately lead to the creation of Barcraft.

What is Barcraft?

The idea of Barcraft originated in Seattle at a local bar called Chao Bistro, where regular customer and avid Starcraft player, Glen Bowers, frequented.

Bowers suggested to the restaurant’s owner, Hyung Chung, to play MLG Starcraft events on the television instead of “boring old baseball.”

Seeing that no one was watching the Mariners anyway, Chung agreed. The rest of the night was filled with the battle cries of alien races duking it out for supremacy.

Barcraft has since become a global sensation, with gatherings happening in cities all over Europe, Australia, United States and Canada.

Who organized it and why?

Project X is a collection of individuals dedicated to developing the gaming community in Calgary. They have hosted a number of gaming events and competitions within the city.

They will be hosting their Barcraft event at Dobson’s Restaurant and Bar. All proceeds from the event will be going towards the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

Barcraft Calgary was organized by Starcraft enthusiasts, Kiefer McCrae, a political studies major at Mount Royal University; Benjamin Odegaard, a freshman at the University of Calgary; city of Calgary worker Denton Davies; and Kayleigh Post, a hostess at Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch.

“The idea came about when we noticed the phenomenon of Barcraft popping up in other cities,” Post, the event organizer of Barcraft Calgary, said.

“The more I read about them and researched them, the more I wanted to attend one in Calgary. I soon realized, however, that no one had yet to step up to the plate and actually put one together,” she said.

Gameplay

Post began playing the game through her boyfriend, who convinced her to give the game a try.

“Regardless of your personal level of play, the game is still very enjoyable as a spectator sport and in non-competitive aspects,” Post continued.

“What makes it so brilliant is the fact that as a third party to the game, either spectating in the game itself, or through other means like watching MLG; you can see both sides build their strategy from the ground up.”

Odegaard began playing the game just before the release. He said he hasn’t been able to stop since.

“The strategy aspect of the game,” Odegaard said, “is what makes the game so attractive. Starcraft 2 is based off of having each unit being the ‘counter’ for another. However, it has become more of a game of balance.

“The aspect of needing to make crucial decisions and having to think of the best way to react is what attracts me to the game.”

Over the course of the past decade, MLG has always broadcasted their events live.

With the new addition of professional commentators calling the play-by-play, it has allowed spectators to enjoy the broadcast on another level, allowing the medium to further reach out to gamers and non-gamers alike.

Post said, “The added excitement that the commentators bring to the game is a bonus and really contributes to the energy and excitement to a tournament for most people watching.”

With two events occurring on the same day, showcasing the same MLG competition, why not unite the two as one?

“This event is still maturing,” said Jonathan Burkinshaw, Project X, “there are various perspectives as to how these sorts of events should be done, so we are taking the experiences we have learned from our past events and are applying them to this idea to see how it turns out.

“As the community matures, we look forward to participating with everyone in Calgary to promote these events,” Burkinshaw added.

The first of the two Barcraft events start at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 at Ceili’s Irish Pub. The second is to start at noon at Dobson’s Restaurant and Bar.

Admission is free for both events.

mchan@cjournal.ca