Video games can be played for more than just fun

Jared Widman ('10)/For Eastside

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, “I have Halo 3 at my house,” or “I’m pretty good at Gears of War; I can get a Major League Gaming (MLG) team together, and we can kick butt. It’s not like video games take any skill or anything.”

That would be your first mistake.  The competitive playing of video games takes better amounts of hand-eye coordination and far superior reflexes than the normal person dreams of having. To a professional gamer, video games aren’t games at all. They’re more than that.  They’re all about being the best.

Competitive gaming, or E-Sports as it is sometimes called, dates back to November 10, 1981, when a man named Walter Day opened up a video game arcade called Twin Galaxies.  He had two goals in mind. The first goal was to get an excuse to play more arcade games. The second was a much more legitimate goal, and that was to amass a list of all of the best high-scores in the country and put them on one massive scoreboard to be viewed by the public: The Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard. Walter’s Scoreboard grew in popularity as tapes and high-scores began to be submitted to him, and it grew in respectability as he created rulebooks and appointed referees to make sure that no false scores were submitted.  Walter understood the true competitiveness of video games, and eventually the rest of the world started catching on.

In 1983, Twin Galaxies created the U.S. National Video Game Team, which competed in various competitions, including the 1987 Video Game Masters Tournament for Guinness World Records.  Formal competitions began to form in the nineties, such as the Nintendo World Championship, which gave out gold cartridges as a prize for the finalists.

During the late nineties and the turn of the century various leagues for professional gamers started popping up all over the place.  The first was the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), which held various tournaments from 1998 until 2005, when it developed it’s CPL World Tour, focusing on the one-on-one death match game Painkiller and had a total cash prize of $1,000,000. In 2000, the first World Cyber Games was held in Seoul Korea. In 2003, the first Electronic Sports World Cup was held, and in 2006 Major League Gaming was launched, which now sees jurisdiction over Halo 3, Gears of War and Call of Duty 4 pro circuits worldwide. MLG also has a child-site, www.gamebattles.com, allowing people to sign up and test their might by competing in online tournaments to move up through the rankings and sharpen their skills through regulated competitive play.

Along with serious skill, a lot of determination is needed in order to become a professional gamer. For instance, Johnathon Wendell, AKA Fatal1ty, still practices for two hours a day or more, despite having five world championship titles under his belt.  Eventually what seems like fun and games becomes a living, and being a professional is hard work.  However, if you love video games and competition and think that you’re good enough, then Pro-Gaming is definitely the right career choice for you.

So, you think that you can become a professional gamer? It’s actually quite easy to break into compared to other professional sports–if you have the talent and the determination. It’s so easy that a six year old can do it. In fact, the world’s youngest gamer, known as LiL Poison, was the youngest signed MLG pro-gamer at the age of six.  But you don’t need to be as young as LiL Poison to start out, anyone can break into the profession of gaming. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Find a team. Find a few friends that are as good at gaming as you are (or better) and make a team. In fact, most games involve two teams facing off, so it’s very preferable to join a team rather than playing alone.

Step 2: Practice. This should be obvious, but really; if you want to be the best at anything, you must practice. Video games are no exception.

Step 3: Enter some tournaments.  Search around for local tournaments.  Enter your team on www.gamebattles.com and play online. If your team is good, you should be able to dominate. And, if you dominate, you will be noticed. Also, you might obtain some cash.  If you become exceptionally good, you should probably feel like entering a professional tournament or two to see how you place. If you rank well, then congratulations, you’re a professional gamer.

Step 4: Get sponsored. If you’re really good, a major company could sponsor you and pay for your entry and travel fee for tournaments and can also give you free products and/or pay you money to endorse its product. The majority of professional gamers are sponsored by a certain corporation or brand, so getting sponsored is a good way to fill up your wallet if you aren’t exactly rolling in cash prizes.