Living the Dream

Living the Dream
Those About to Frag

Russ Pitts | 2 Oct 2007 14:02
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Geffon is a good example of where a career in professional gaming can lead. He started playing Counter-Strike professionally as a teenager, just like Miller, but this year, after nearly five years as a player, he's moved into management. You could call him the Mike Ditka of professional Counter-Strike.

"I was originally introduced to Counter-Strike by my step-brother, and I just began playing it for fun," says Geffon. "The more immersed I became in the community, the more I realized that there was a huge competitive side to the game.

"The majority of younger players now that are serious about professional gaming play for the hope of becoming a professional gamer and to get paid," he says. "We played for the love of being the best and just showing how much better you are than the next guy."

Talking with the competitors about "determination" and "the love of the game," it's easy to start thinking about competitive gaming as just another sport. But that's just silly, isn't it? After all, they're not doing anything, they're just sitting there, twitching. Watching a competitive videogame match is like, well, watching people play videogames. It's not exactly an active pursuit. Or is it?

"I would say it is as active as golf or right field position in major league baseball," says Jim Wagner, a Corporate Attorney and author of the book How to Become a Professional Gamer. "Professional gaming also has an intensity of play and 'power move' type play that is found in no other sport."

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And it's competitive - very competitive - and requires a focus and intensity intimidating to even the most hardcore gridiron warrior, in spite of the fact the competitors sit in chairs. Which is partly what makes professional gaming an endeavor for the young. Videogaming is a sport almost anyone can try, but most pick it up when they're young, and there's a reason for that - age degrades the very skills required to stay competitive. And there's the rub.

According to Miller, it takes "years of experience and practice" to become successful, but also "a good degree of hand-eye coordination and skill," both of which, as those of us over 30 know, tend to degrade over time.

"Can you see someone hanging in as a pro gamer into their 20s, 30s or even 40s?" asks Wagner. "I honestly do not see a pro gamer making it into their 30s, but there is always the exception. Your George Foremans will always be out there. Also, look for players who hang up their controllers to become announcers [like] Johnathan 'Fatal1ty' Wendel."

Geffon is walking proof that there's a place in the sport for players past their prime, although he recognizes he may be luckier than most. "I think on some level you can make it a lifelong career," he says. "Just like in any other professional sport you would play for 12-15 years and move to another area that's within the game you play."

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