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PC Games (Games) Media Television

Competitive Gaming Hits the Mainstream 78

Posted by Zonk
from the has-to-be-better-than-televised-magic-the-gathering dept.
thegamebiz writes "Amped eSports has a recap of the 60 minutes segment profiling gaming icon Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, while also providing commentary on the effect it could have on the business as a whole. From the article: 'As millions of Americans sat with eyes affixed to their televisions during the second week of the NFL playoffs, a different type of sport was being birthed into the public spotlight merely a channel away ... It's time to wake up, America. eSports has hit the spotlight and with it comes the realization of a dream that has existed in the mind of every child since Fred Savage took his brother to California for a Nintendo tournament in The Wizard. Professional Gamer is now a valid career path.'"
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Competitive Gaming Hits the Mainstream

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  • Hrmm? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BHennessy (639799) on Monday January 23, 2006 @06:50PM (#14543940)
    'As millions of Americans sat with eyes affixed to their televisions during the second week of the NFL playoffs, a different type of sport was being birthed into the public spotlight merely a channel away...'

    How does millions of people watching another program on at the same time help the cause?
  • Spectator gaming... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BigZaphod (12942) on Monday January 23, 2006 @06:53PM (#14543960) Homepage
    It just seems stupid to me. Gaming is very much about the gamer and his/her experience. Making it be about the audience seems like it'd turn gaming into nothing more than a puppet show. Machinima already does that.
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday January 23, 2006 @07:04PM (#14544049) Journal
      Surely it is the taking part that counts. Yet that doesn't stop hundreds of millions of people from following sports events.

      No I don't see the appeal either but then I don't watch "regular" sports anyway so perhaps I am just weird.

      Just as there is a "market" for chess matches or curdling or downhill skiing or soccer there will be a market for "gaming".

      If it will ever be big I have no idea. Why did soccer get big but not field hockey? Why do americans watch football and europeans soccer.

      F1 is a big sport. Perhaps it is only watched because you want to see lethal crashes but if that is not the case then why should people not also watch a F1 race with virtual cars?

      It would not be my cup of tea and it may not be yours but we hardly matter now do we? Computer "sports" would allow events that could never be held in real live, why hold a chess match when you can televise a battle between armies? The BBC already had a program like this.

      • Spectator sports often start as people watching better people to enhance their own skills.

        This is huge in Gaming, demo's are available all over the internet.

        There are probably enough gamers to have a show and it'll probably start with coverage of the biggest gaming events like WGC etc....

        The biggest problem is these tournaments aren't a single sport, to watch for your country you would need to watch Starcraft and Counter-Strike... And that's a pretty broad spectrum.
      • Just as there is a "market" for chess matches or curdling or downhill skiing or soccer there will be a market for "gaming".

        I don't recall ever seeing a curdling match. Is it more common in dairy country, like cow-tipping?

    • Uhm, big Counter-Strike matches often gather several thousand spectators on a daily basis, and REALLY big lan events gather 20000~40000 spectators, it is much much more than a puppet show.. This night alone more than 5000 people were spectating European matches, at the same time, and afterwards normally the replays of the matches gather the same number of downloads as people who watched them live..
      • Uhm, big Counter-Strike matches often gather several thousand spectators on a daily basis, and REALLY big lan events gather 20000~40000 spectators

        Wow, that is incredibly lame. I used to love playing Counter-Strike and was downright addicted to it, but I could never imagine myself actually watching it passively as a non-player. What a complete waste of time! Why sit there and watch someone else play Counter-Strike when you can hop on and play it yourself!?

        • by Meest (714734)
          Why watch Cycling when you can hop on your bike yourself? Why watch skateboarding when you can go outside and hop on yours? Or What about NASCAR when you can drive around your block?

          Because it is fun to watch for the person interested in the game. The intensity of the game when a team is down by 3 rounds and its a 1v3 situation with a minute ten left on the clock is a very tense and amazing time to watch. Its also great to watch because you get to see all the players playing that you always hear about. much
        • The same reason as you watch any other sport? You enjoy seeing people do something really good, sure I can play soccer, but i enjoy watching the big stars playing, i played soccer for 10 years, but do not play anymore, still I enjoy watching it, so why should CS be any different? The game has as many aspects as NFL, the tactics, the "hits", the individual performances, the trick play..

          Just because you do not understand the sport, there is no reason to call it lame, nor look down at it, believe you me, when
          • it is probalby the fact that one is both intensely physical and mental while the other is mainly mental and reaction time. I think its great that people can get together and play games and make money and compete, but it isn't for me simply because in my mind, these new games always lack the physical aspect that traditional sports have. It's the same reason I don't enjoy watching chess(but I can look at it after the fact for info about why certain moves are good).

            of course, as you said, it is my opinion.
        • Maybe when you can bet on it like any other game now.
          I predict in less than 2 years (if not already) we should be able to see gambling houses hosting bets on klan matches.
    • Gaming is very much about the gamer and his/her experience. Making it be about the audience seems like it'd turn gaming into nothing more than a puppet show.

      Much like competitive sports itself. It used to be about people getting together after work and blowing off some steam with some healthy competition. Now it's about billions of dollars and fat people watching while drinking beer and eating potato chips. I used to love to play sports as a child but I would prefer a root canal over watching them on TV.
      • I used to play an unhealthy dose of Unreal Tournament and Wolfenstein games online, and I would get my hands on any clan scrimmages clip/replays whenever I can. It was insane seeing how creative some teams are in their attack plan.

        Then someone would give me a clip of some other game I have never played. Immediately I would loose interest. I think there is a market for video game TV, it just has to be a popular game in a 3rd person view. Otherwise it must be some serious eyecandy.

    • by GroeFaZ (850443) on Monday January 23, 2006 @09:12PM (#14545105)
      So you are saying every commercially successful sport out there is NOT about the sportsman/woman and his/her experience? I'm a hardcore gamer myself (in terms of hours spent), and I very much enjoy watching pros duke it out in a game I enjoy playing myself. And even recorded speedruns etc. of a single-player game can be very entertaining. By every definition, PC/console gaming can be a sport like any other.
      • by kamapuaa (555446)
        By every definition, PC/console gaming can be a sport like any other.

        Looking on dictionary.com, every relevant definition involves the idea of "physical activity" taking place. Sorry but pressing keys on a keyboard doesn't fit the current definition.

        • What about hunting? Archery? Sport shooting. Golf. Billiards. Cricket. Curling. Fishing. Racing.

          Surely if most of these are sports then videogaming can be a sport also.
        • As usual, the problem lies in drawing the line between activity and non-activity.

          For example, Chess is no sport by this definition or my understanding, because in theory, you can play it by telling someone else to move your pieces and still it would be solely your game, your effort, because Chess is ALL about thinking (plus psychological warfare).
          But while moving the mouse or pressing buttons/keys isn't in the same league as football or weightlifting, it is physical movement that cannot be delegated and
  • by AEther141 (585834) on Monday January 23, 2006 @06:56PM (#14543985)
    Gaming has been bumbling along as an occasional novelty in the mainstream media since the CS explosion and the massive LAN events of the early noughties. The real point at which gaming can call itself mainstream is when the goofy gaming shows obviously hosted by non-gamers are replaced by serious coverage of tournament events, when CS and QT are presented like poker - serious coverage that the tournament entrants would appreciate, competent commentary by people gamers actually respect and just the occasional explanatory note to naive viewers. When the network execs begin to understand that their thirteen-year-old PS2 owner is a totally different kind of gamer to the WOW-playing, LAN-gaming faithful and realise that gamers aren't one demographic but a broad spectrum with widely diverging tastes and interests. For the moment, gaming is an odd novelty that the mainstream still don't quite get.
  • Hahah. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2006 @06:57PM (#14543988)
    Yeah, it's as viable a career path as "Being Bono" or "Becoming Tom Cruise" is. How many people have made professional gaming an actual career? I don't mean 2 years of income. I mean at least 10 years of steady income.
    • Re:Hahah. (Score:5, Funny)

      by servognome (738846) on Monday January 23, 2006 @07:10PM (#14544108)
      How many people have made professional gaming an actual career? I don't mean 2 years of income. I mean at least 10 years of steady income.

      It's not about the money man... It's about the chicks... errr the fame... err the free Mountain Dew sponsorship deals, that's it.
    • If anybody saw the MTV Real Life on professional gamers they interviewed the Pac Man champion from 1982. He was a huge celebrity at the time. Now he has the really sad life going nowhere. He talks about his time as a celebrity like it was the only happy time in his now pathetic life. That Fatality dude should get a back up plan and go to college. Video Game champion of FPS games is cool now. FPS games will be replaced by some other genre. Just like the Pac Man champion can't make it as a FPS champion
  • Media hype (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Flizesh (775141) on Monday January 23, 2006 @07:04PM (#14544051)
    Seems like media hype to me and 60 minutes trying to be on 'the edge' of something new. Sure, pro gaming might be getting bigger but there are millions of gamers but only a handful of people who can make an actual living off it. Plus on 60 minutes they touted "Fatal1ty" as the best, which seemed kind of lame.
    • Re:Media hype (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The-Bus (138060) on Monday January 23, 2006 @07:28PM (#14544257)
      "Professional Gaming has Arrived!" has been a headline I've seen for a dozen years, if not more. It's not going to happen, because there's no audience for it. At best, it will be something like a movie critic. You can't go to movie critic school and have offers ready for you when you graduate. You make it on your own. I think pro gaming, if and when it ever arrives, will be very similar.

      I didn't see 60 Minutes, but did they mention Golden Tee Golf at all? I know there's people that play that in leagues and make $15,000+ per year. Not income-worthy, but that's a pretty good supplement for the average joe.
      • there's no audience for it.

        Just like people said there was no audience for poker. Or skateboarding. Or prime-time football.

        • Picking nit, but here goes anyways:

          Skateboarding and football are completely different because they exist in the real world (or meatspace, if you're so inclined). Those are sort of physical activities / sports all in general. Golf, ultimate fighting, handball, crew, jai alai, ice hockey, futbol, table tennis, etc. Video games are not this.

          And poker is something completely different. Yes, it's not a sport in the physical sense. But it's a specific card game that has existed in one form or another for close t
          • I agree that gaming won't (at least in the near future) get as many spectators as poker, and especially not football (I never said this). I do think that it has the possibility to grow to the popularity of the X-Games, Outdoor games, or strongman competitions.

            But in regards to televised card/board/non-physical games, I think poker succeeded because there's a lot less required knowledge of strategy than, say, chess. You can not understand the subtleties of poker and still enjoy it. On the other hand, che

    • Aye. I'm inclined to agree with your assessment of hype. The kid's fresh-faced and young enough to be photogenic, too, which helps.

      I was talking about it with a guy at work today. His son's team won the CS prize at the LAN game this past weekend. Got a bunch of cool stuff for it -- about $800 worth of gear. The kid wants to make a living as a pro if he can, or just have some sponsor pay for all kinds of travel if that's all it ends up as. I can't say it's a bad idea, but it seems like if that's your caree

      • funny you say that. was at home and watching TV for the first time in ages and what do I see: MTV following the lives as several pro gamers, none of who were Fatal1ty. It was kind of interesting to see these people who want/are pro gamers. It just looked horribly boring from my perspective but then again, I don't play games much any more.
  • I can't wait until we have a televised first person shooter match and someone has a fit of rage by smashing a keyboard into the table with keyboard buttons flying everywhere. Should score a high rating with the "video games causes violence" crowd.
  • by antdude (79039) on Monday January 23, 2006 @07:33PM (#14544305) Homepage Journal
    Click here [cbsnews.com] to read the article and watch the streaming video. It was posted on Digg [digg.com] earlier.
  • Professional Gamer is now a valid career path.

    I can already hear the cost of Big Macs going up because all the McDonald's employees have now come the realization that they're better than these other professional gaming chumps and are going to dedicate their lives to it. Sure, it might be a "valid" career path, but for how many people exactly? We're not talking about something like the fast food industry where there's always an open job for a warm body. You're talking about quite a niche market. While the
    • In Korea you can get Starcraft and Warcraft trading cards inside Dorito bags. I imagine pro gamer is no different than pro skatebording. Fatal1ty is this generation's Tony Hawk, look for a Fatal1ty branded skateboard at a toys r us near you.
    • "Sure, it might be a "valid" career path, but for how many people exactly?"

      Quite right. If by "valid," they ean there is a glimmer of hope of being able to make a living off it, sure.

      But to me, and countless others, a "valid" career path means a reasonable expectation of being able to 'keep food on my family' and pay for housing, kids' education, etc.

      And if by "path," they mean some kind of nebulous mechanism whereby I can work hard to perfect my gaming skills and happen to be charismatic and happ
  • This could be both good and bad.

    Games which are heavily endorsed will receive much more attention, of course. CounterStrike, for example, had a huge following of dedicated gamers well before it was ever picked up officially by Valve. Day of Defeat had a decent sized following before it got picked up as well. With this "revelation" however, people will be attracted to the games in which they think could potentially earn them money or make them famous (silly isn't it?) rather than playing games in which
    • by ClamIAm (926466)
      [Pro gamers] will be attracted to the games in which they think could potentially earn them money ... rather than playing games in which they simply enjoy.

      I doubt many NFL players hate football.

  • beware of the hype (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday January 23, 2006 @08:02PM (#14544562) Homepage Journal
    Professional Gamer is now a valid career path.

    And just like Pro-Footballer or Pro-Soccer player, it's not all the dream it's sold as.

    As in any other business, thousands of young people enter that career path every year, and most of them never make it past "it pays the rent". In fact, I would be surprised if a considerable percentage came even that far.
    • As in any other business, thousands of young people enter that career path every year, and most of them never make it past "it pays the rent". In fact, I would be surprised if a considerable percentage came even that far.

      Especially in gaming, since so many 12 year olds think they are the best. There are many more people that consider themselves the best in their game than there are people who consider themselves the best in an athletic sport. Professional gaming does exist anyways, CPL being the longest
  • A couple things. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sage Gaspar (688563) on Monday January 23, 2006 @08:55PM (#14544973)
    First, it can't be live. There's no way to intelligently comment on a live video game, and essentially commentary is why people are watching. In most sports you can see displays of athletic prowess. Other sports (just using it as a term, don't want to debate what's a sport), like poker, you need interesting commentary. Poker is slow enough and widespread enough that there are a lot of people that are well-versed in it that can keep up with the game compellingly on live TV. Not so with video games. People aren't going to sit there watching someone else playing video games unless they're very dedicated, and downloaded replays are much more interactive.

    So what do you do? Save the replay. Let both sides walk you through the game afterward and explain the problems they had at key steps, and how they lost the game. Explain their strategies for gamers that are interested in the specific game. This isn't going to be terribly compelling except in small chunks, but then again, it has almost no production cost.

    Secondly, get someone that has some authenticity. People that obviously don't know what they're talking about discussing games just makes me angry. And I know a lot of my friends that feel the same way. MTV-style gaming shows don't really appeal to anyone, because gamers who aren't hardcore don't really want to watch gaming television, and people who are hardcore just despise it.

    Third, fuck the cheat codes. No one, no one, no one watches TV to get cheat codes. I don't even buy strategy guides anymore unless they're very well made. Cheat Code TV is a shitty, shitty idea.

    Fourth, as for content, how about interviews with industry leaders? People showing clips from upcoming games. Even spotlights on independent games, or mods. Or documentaries on the game-making process. Hell, I'm nerdy enough that I'd watch gaming news: suchandsuch a clan opened up dungeon X in WoW, patch Z was released for MMO_flavor_of_the_week with suchandsuch changes, soandso art designer quit company Q.

    Finally, there could even be room for a debate-style show. Get industry "pundits" *shudder* together to discuss stuff that will at least inspire interesting flame wars. Are video games art? Is storyline important? Which console is shaping up to be the best? Do graphics matter? What's the best fighting game? Did Blizzard ruin balance in WoW with the latest patch? Is Jack Thompson a lunatic? Hell, bring Jack Thompson on to defend himself! Shit like that.
    • "First, it can't be live. There's no way to intelligently comment on a live video game, and essentially commentary is why people are watching. In most sports you can see displays of athletic prowess. Other sports (just using it as a term, don't want to debate what's a sport), like poker, you need interesting commentary. Poker is slow enough and widespread enough that there are a lot of people that are well-versed in it that can keep up with the game compellingly on live TV. Not so with video games. People a
      • "Seriously, just because YOU do not understand the game, do not underestimate it.. It has plenty of dimensions.."

        I don't think I was talking about a specific game. I understand plenty of them, thanks.

        "Btw, the prime method for watching a Counter-Strike game is via HLTV - Halflife TV, there you are the producer and can do picture in picture, follow the player you like, or just roam around the map..."

        Exactly. This is something you can't do on TV. See downloaded replays are much more interactive. Hence dela
        • Re:A couple things. (Score:2, Interesting)

          by CommiePuddin (891854)
          Furthermore, maps in most FPS are much more complicated than a football field. How easy is it to always get a great angle to give people the live perspective?

          Much like existing spectator sports, you position cameras at strategic locations in the map, controlled by "cameramen," who will move within the space to get the most advantageous shot.

          Not to mention that the "helmet cam" is built into the system.

          Well placed shots are not any more difficult in this realm than it is in existing spectator sport. It's al
          • "Well placed shots are not any more difficult in this realm than it is in existing spectator sport. It's all about having a good director who can frame up the right shot at the right time."

            I tend to disagree. In most sports, you have a wide open arena, and a ball that's pretty much the center of all the action. In an FPS, you can have people fighting everywhere, and who knows where the exciting fights are going to be? Plus, it's easier to track and frame a relatively slow moving ball than a player circle s
      • Furthermore a NFL commentator spends the most time with tactical stuff, or pointing out key plays, stuff like that, this can be done in a game too, because that 2vs2 could probably have ended very differently had something been changed..

        To be honest, most NFL commentators are simply blowing some serious smoke out their asses for the time they're on the air, especially the "color commentators". Ever listen to the ESPN Sunday Night crew? Joe Theissman is only a couple of notches better than Joe Namath in the
    • The commentator has an advantage that the players don't have in the match: he can see everything.

      "MacKenzie is dropping back from the blue team pack, twisting in behind an oil drum. Jason from the Red team is sneaking up on them from behind, but he has no idea who lies in wait for him."

      "Mayatama is trying a box style defense on the Zerg, but it doesn't seem to be holding. Will Jerrelly's Protos style seems unbeatable at this point. You know, Bill, Will played with Mayatama's Okinawa team for his last two
  • by GroeFaZ (850443) on Monday January 23, 2006 @09:16PM (#14545134)
    Gaming is very big in S-Korea, and has been at least since Starcraft came out. There is a huge industry with idols, fans, groupies, big sponsors, big money, regular TV shows, heck, even their own TV channel. THAT's what I call Mainstream. No problem with TFA, but don't give the impression that the US went there first.
  • As per subject.

    I've been involved with running large LAN gaming events for the last six years in Australia and never have I ever met someone so arrogant and up himself as this guy. He came over to win "only four thousand dollars worth". Australian dollars, so it's not THAT much - but the cheek!

    While he would be considered a celebrity in gaming circles, I'd hardly consider him the be-all and end-all of competitive professional gaming.
    • When you describe to someone your expectations of yourself, you come off sounding like a dick.

      Especially if you win a crapload of money at a video game.

      What do you say "Yea, im the guy that won 18000 thousand playing mech3" when chatting with people?

      There is no good way, at least I never found any, and I was in an incredibly niche game, give the guy some credit. Hell, he is from Kansas City MO, Im from the area, and you arent trained to handle people thinking your so good at something by the culture in the
  • Before gaming can hit the big time on TV there is one key feature games need. Television production support. The TV crew needs the ability to place, move and control multiple cameras, in game, so that they can shoot the game as if the game was real. Give the producer a few dozen cameras, fixed and mobile, the ability to have the camera crews manipulate the cameras (move, pan, tilt, zoom, focus) and you've got a system that they can work with. Sport stadiums are designed with TV cameras in mind, video games

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