The beauty of Starcraft is enamoring, but sometimes I felt as if the professional aspect of Starcraft changed it from a game that emphasized creative strategies into a game that demanded efficiency and rigorous build orders. Personally I have seen this transition, and although I welcome it, I feel as if something was lost over time.
For me, it started with an introductory learning curve. I commanded fairly well in the beginning, watching my sprite army move across the screen. At this point I did not even know the A-Move existed, and would target fire with my mouse in order to attack, and let the AI take over afterwards. After a while, I started to become more comfortable with the controls. I started to memorize hotkeys, and as a result they became less foreign and more comfortable to my hands. After working on my mechanics more, I began being immersed in the campaign story of Starcraft.
Every character felt real, and possessed genuine personalities. Jim Raynor was an ordinary man turned into a hero in the midst of an epic struggle. Arcturus was a man with a vision and the power and resources to bring it to reality. Kerrigan was a sassy redhead whose voice constantly teased me with flirtatious tones. The game started to envelope me with an epic timeline that consisted of massive wars across the galaxy and planetary genocides. The music, the drama, the atmosphere of it all kept me in this world where I commanded armies against these characters in a real time scenario. Men died when I gave the wrong orders. My economy starved if I didn't pay attention to my worker count. Starcraft became something of a phenomenon to me. The fact that I just learned to play a game so encapsulating gave me chills.
However, it was entirely different when I entered multiplayer. I started playing with a close friend, who had quite a head start ahead of me. In our ZvP's, I would love the sound of Hydra's firing at Dragoon groups. I would startle at the sight of Reavers and Shuttles near my mineral lines. I would laugh as my Mutalisks reach his base and watch as his slow Dragoons chase them across the screen. There was something charming about Starcraft. I did not care about winning or losing, it was a brilliant game that was just fun. Running cracklings by as he moves out with a late game army was a favorite of mine. I'd snipe some production, maybe some tech if I could, but honestly I just loved making my friend panic for just a few moments.
When it transitioned to the competitive scene the games between us changed. Watching some Starleagues and other tournaments instantly changed our strategies. The professional players all had efficient and powerful macro builds. Now my mass Hydra's melted to his reavers. My Mutalisk balls were evaporated by Corsairs. I needed to learn burrow micro. I needed to learn unit compositions. I needed to learn how to play the game correctly. This lead to debates, but mostly it lead to diminishing my level of freedom in multiplayer. My favorite strategies were not viable against him. We stubbornly refused to play at a casual level against each other, forcing each other to find better and sneakier build orders. It was an arms race.
Eventually our school studies demanded more attention than our Starcraft vendettas against each other, but we still played with new strategies in our heads. However, the announcement of Starcraft 2 changed things. We agreed to cease playing Starcraft, and would continue our personal war with the arrival of Starcraft 2.
When Starcraft 2 was released, we played separately for a while. I continued watching professional Starcraft 2 in the form of the GSL, where I once again repeated my routine of trying out these new and powerful builds. After a few months, we discussed playing against each other again. But things had changed. With the release of tiered ladders and different leagues, we eventually grew tired of playing with a comp