Are video games a sport?
They may not break a sweat, but these competitors say they are tomorrow's athletes.
"We're following White Fox as he makes his way around the corner," comes the play-by-play commentary in the hushed-but-tense voice of sportscaster Tim 'Gunslinger' Lakin. "They really haven't had the need to go into the water-access area yet, the front door entrance is working fine." The play is quick, the players' reflexes even quicker as they adjust strategies in millisecond calculations.
They may not break a sweat, but the competitors here at the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) Tournament say they are the athletes of the new millennium.
And like 18-year-old Kyle "Ksharp" Miller, they may not eat anything special for breakfast, but they train all year with the intensity of a Tiger Woods. His Team 3D is just one of the 100 five-man teams from more than 30 countries who gathered - in person - to play multiplayer online games. An audience of some 3,000 fellow players and fans watched on big screens, as on-air shoutcasts (Internet radio) provided play-by-play and color commentary. The purse? $200,000 cash (and all the Papa John's pizza you can eat on-site).
Unless you're a member of the joystick generation, you've probably never heard of the CPL games. But event organizers and sponsors are convinced that, like the X-Games before them, these are the games of the new generation. And as this group grows up, the games will grow with them. Next summer's games are already scheduled for a venue twice as large to hold an audience that more than doubles with each event.
"We're riding the crest of our culture," says CPL founder, Angel Munoz. "Right now, we're under most people's radar," says the former investment banker who organized the first games in 1997. But, says the New York transplant, league-style interactive games are like smoke on the horizon, "a sign of a huge change that's already under way."
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