This morning, Razor and I are getting on a plane to go cover the World Cyber Games national championship at the Aladdin resort in Fabulous Las Vegas.
We were informed of this last week. Our first question was: Huh?
The World Cyber Games will be pitting almost 100 competitors against one another, playing eight games; Starcraft: Brood War, Counter Strike, WarCraft III, FIFA Soccer 2006, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Warhammer 40k: Winter Assault, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Dead or Alive 4.
There are also a number of events scheduled and a few exhibitors who will be there showing off gewgaws and wonderments of some kind. I'm planning to catch as much of the gaming as I can and attend a "workshop" where I'm ostensibly going to learn how to pwn in Halo 2. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes.
I'm also half-expecting to hit the slots, or grope the cocktail waitresses or watch the Bellagio fountain play Ennio Morricone music over and over and over. Because in any kind of sport, the most compelling aspect of the competition is the people. You want to see if they have "heart." You want to know their story. And then, when they're fiercely competing with their rivals, you want to see their faces, their sweat, their tears.
In a videogame competition the competitors don't really do much. They just sit there. They might sweat, but in context that's kinda "ick," not "fierce." Instead, all of the action is on the screen, but what you see there is not two people in a heated struggle, instead you see game characters. The same ones you could see on your own TV in your own home when you're playing the game. And that's the Achilles Heel of gaming as a sport, I think: watching it just makes you want to play, not keep watching.
Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am. I'm hearing glimmers of great things from Vegas and I need to go find out if they're just a mirage or if Pro Gaming really has arrived. If it hasn't, this will be a very dull weekend, because I ain't making "high-roller" money by any means, and the hot waitresses tend to hover around whales.