Gamers To Compete For World Title

Video gaming is emerging as a legitimate spectator sport. Some of the best gamers in the world will compete for the Championship Gaming Series World Final on Monday night in Los Angeles, and the event will be televised to the world. DJ Wheat, the event's TV play-by-play announcer, talks to host Andrea Seabrook about the final.

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(Soundbite of song, "Theme from Rocky")

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Tomorrow night, the house lights will dim, the audience will build to a deafening roar, the spotlights will whip around furiously, landing on two teams, athletes, masters of endurance and precision: video gamers.

Yes, video gaming is now a spectator sport. The World Finals of the Championship Gaming Series are tomorrow night in Los Angeles and on TVs around the world. This is big stuff. Just ask Marcus Graham, or as he's known to gaming fans, DJ Wheat. He's the TV play-by-play guy for the Championship Gaming Series, and he's on the line now. DJ Wheat, welcome.

Mr. DJ WHEAT (Video Game Announcer): Thanks for having me.

SEABROOK: So how does it work? There are so many video games on there, who plays what?

Mr. WHEAT: In our particular league, we have a chosen set of games that represent a lot of the different genres of games that people play, for example a racing game, a sports game, a shooting game and then a fighting game, but the best way to really explain it is that it's kind of like a track meet. You've got the 100-meter dash, you've got the 110 hurdles and the relay, and overall, you're trying to earn points for your team, and the team with the most points at the end wins.

SEABROOK: And of course unlike a track meet, the players are actually just sitting down the whole time, right?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WHEAT: Well yeah, I mean, sitting down maybe when they're playing, but of course up in the air when they land that perfect head shot on their opponent. You know, then they're up and celebrating just as much as you would in any other sport.

SEABROOK: Let's hear a little bit about what you do, DJ Wheat.

Mr. WHEAT: Sure.

SEABROOK: This is your call from a match last season. The competitors are nicknamed Swoozie(ph) and Chapelle(ph), and they're playing the fighting game, Dead on Arrival IV.

(Soundbite of video game, "Dead on Arrival IV")

Unidentified Woman (Actor): (As character) Get ready, fight.

Mr. WHEAT: Swoozie is very, very focused, and he needs to pull out all stops. The greatest matchup. He starts (unintelligible), but Chapelle's coming in big. It's a nice combo right there, beautiful (unintelligible).

SEABROOK: Okay, DJ Wheat, I don't have any idea what you're talking about. What's a teleport?

Mr. WHEAT: We're talking about these two players that are fighting game. In one particular instance, a teleport parry is a special move that someone has to evade an attack, but you know, those words are meant to, you know, entertain and get the audience involved.

(Soundbite of video game, "Dead on Arrival IV")

Mr. WHEAT: Chapelle goes down with a kick, beautiful (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of applause)

SEABROOK: And I gather the people sitting up in the bleachers, they get to see it on a big screen, what's going on?

Mr. WHEAT: Oh absolutely. You know, when you actually make it into the arena, you know, you see everything that you would expect, the stage where the players play, their benches, the spectators, the big scoreboards, the large monitors displaying the game. It is truly like a digital sports arena.

SEABROOK: Now do the players get salaries?

Mr. WHEAT: They do. Everyone that plays in the Championship Gaming Series not only earns a salary but also, competitors can earn sort of bonuses for their performances not only on their team but as individuals in the league. You know, why not make $150,000 playing video games?

SEABROOK: And it does take quite a bit of skill and practice and, you know, hand-eye coordination to play these games at that level, but when I see people playing with that much hand-eye coordination, I sit there, and I think man, he should go be a fighter pilot. What's he doing playing video games with that skill?

Mr. WHEAT: You know, it's funny that you say that. You know, in many cases, I've had friends throughout the years in gaming that have done exactly that, and you know, I think that this is sort of a digital sport for a digital generation, and video games are sort of taking over in terms of a popular medium. You know, these are the athletes of the future.

SEABROOK: DJ Wheat, aka Marcus Graham. He's the television announcer for tomorrow night's World Final of the Championship Gaming Series. Thanks so much.

Mr. WHEAT: Thanks.

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