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Epic moments in Starcraft video game tournament: Will video games stay solely a way of entertaining people? Or may it be seen as a professionnal source of income?

16 Déc

 

It is now much more than a simple hobby, the console games and computer games have become a true professionnal sport in our days. We are now talking about e-sport (electronic sports). In South Korea, entire TV channels are built on gaming competition; they play video games as a tennisman would play tennis: for a living. This new social revolution dosesn’t stop getting bigger and spreading accross the world since the success of Starcraft (a futurist strategy game) or Counter Strike (a war game).
Another proof of such a development in video games is the development of a whole economical system around it as well (other than the actual selling of video games). In the United States of America and in Europe, pro gamers teams sponsored by big computer and gaming gear companies (Intel, MSI, Razer, Steel Series) are trained by ex-champions in video games tournaments. Their feats of strength are shown on the web on streams such as gamers like Athene and Swifty do almost daily. Matches that are diffused on the web are even commentated on sometimes by other professionnal gamers or other geeks that now a lot about the game in particular (as commentators would do for big NBA or NFL games).
The company Gameo finances the French web site Millenium, which manages more than one team of gamers. Millenium.org makes matches available daily on streams et proposes many news relating to Online Gaming around the world. Gameo is now giving salaries to some Millenium gamers which is a big thing in France due to laws: the first one was Yoan Merlo (also known as Tod) 26 who is known world wide. Since almost 10 years, after his feats in Korea and China, this gamer can now start to make a living out of his passion. However, pro gamers may change teams very easily as well, as the regulations outside of the tournaments are very loose: many gamers in the aAa team (against All authority) quit their team for the CyberNation team : a hight tech internet cafe in the area of Nation in Paris, giving the gamers all the gear they need to fully practice. The world of video games then knows forms of corruption as well as other sports have known for decades before.
In Korea, some players such as Lim Yo Hwan (also known as Boxer) 31, or Kim Won Ji (also known as FruitDealer) 26, have been making a living out of their talents for a long time. They attract hordes of fans when they move for tournaments and sign as many autographs as soccer stars or movie actors. Boxer even has a fan club counting 600,000 followers and even a movie DVD showing all of the best moments in his career. The great majority of Korean gamers aren’t that rich and successful. They stack in tens in small rooms with other gamers. They train on a computer each in the hope of being the next great stars of e-sport.
In the waiting of a possible « starification », the professionnal gamers rely on the sponsors and on the tournament prizes to allow themselves to live from playing video games. Now, online tournaments happen every day on games such as Starcraft 2. There are many contestants (mainly men), and depending on the importance of the event, the winners can have prizes from hundreds to thousands of dollars. On the Intel Extreme Masters, the greatest world wide video game tournament, the Korean gamer Ace won 13,000 dollars for winning the finals of the Starcraft 2 tournament. The team Natus Vincere shared over 35,000 dollars for their feats and wins on Counter Strike.

Video games are a huge source of entertainment and interest for many people. But is it still correct to call them « games », may they be online or not, seeing the way they have evolved since recently.

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