Professional Gaming Competition comes to DC: Who’s bringing the Mountain Dew??

Yes video game nerds of the world, October 15-17th is your weekend. Yesterday Major League Gaming (MLG), the world’s largest professional video game league, announced that it will combining its Professional Circuit competition with the MLG Doritos Pro Gaming to create a the professional gaming EVENT OF THE AGES. More than 3000 competitors and spectators are expected to attend the event, which will be held at the Gaylord Convention Center.

Captain Planet of Gaming Competitions

Games up for competition include Halo 3, StarCraft 2, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Tekken 6 and World of Warcraft. Starcraft is already sold out for potential competitors, I assume because it is new. Maybe? And yes, you aspiring masters, anyone can watch the competitions for free.

Artists rendition of aspiring masters:

Doritos, Hot Pockets, Dr. Pepper, and two different types of men’s deodorant, Stride and Old Spice, are among the event’s sponsors. Of course they are. You don’t need a magnifying glass to deduce the intended demographic. Oh and for video game nerds that try to counter, don’t tell me you haven’t enjoyed those exact snacks while gaming. They are like your food pyramid.

Breakfast of Champions

So beloved readers, you could go to this gaming convention. OR you could do literally anything else. I’ll say it, this convention is my personal nightmare. HOW do people just stay inside and play video games? Don’t you get stir crazy? Have to get out?

Ironcityspy has repeatedly tried to argue that video games are cool because professional athletes, criminals and professional-athlete-criminals play them. Fine. I mean not the smartest ally, but cooler than the average Mountain Dew. However, it’s a balance. If by “practicing your fake” you could mean actual soccer OR Fifa soccer, it’s fine. However, if you are champion in Fifa but have never played a soccer game, I mean…bizarre.

video games get athlete cred

I know I am setting myself up for hate mail. I am the clichéd chick that doesn’t understand the appeal or the  constructive benefits of video games. However, I give you the comments to argue why the gamers of the world are the more enlightened race. Oh and to clarify, not the people who design them, those that PLAY them. I see the design and creativity involved. Go forth my Zeldas.

14 thoughts on “Professional Gaming Competition comes to DC: Who’s bringing the Mountain Dew??

  1. Constructive benefits:

    1. Wonderful social distraction (we are bored, let’s play a quick game of Madden)
    2. Increased hand-eye coordination
    3. Preparedness for Zombie Apocalypse

    Also, I’d dominate if Goldeneye were on this list.

  2. Obviously you’ve touched a nerve with me.

    I consider myself a pretty hardcore gamer (a title I hate because of all of its implications, but one I have to begrudgingly admit is pretty apt.) I have a lot of different reasons for playing video games, and only one or two involve a love of Mountain Dew Code Red.

    First and foremost, I’m a fiction junky. I crave a good narrative in all its forms, and eat them down like candy, be they novel, comic book, television show, movie, or video game. I truly believe that video games are a new form of art still in its infancy. And why not? They have all of the audio and visual capabilities of film and television, but with an added interactive element. No one questions whether or not movies can be a work of art, so why do they do so constantly with video games?

    A lot of reasons. The primary reason, I believe, is that it is still in its infancy. There are a lot of misconceptions about video games, and even the name is misleading, as “game” implies “toy” which implies “for kids.” Nobody would play Fallout 3 or Grand Theft Auto and say, “Oh yeah, this will make a perfect toy for my three-year-old.” Secondly, video games have a niche culture surrounding them, complete with its own jokes (such as rating a girl’s attractiveness as “need, greed, or pass”), its own icons and heroes (Miyamoto, Kojima, Tim Shafer), and its own title: gamer. No other form of media entertainment has its own title associated with it (for example, you don’t call people who watch movies “filmers,” and I am undoubtedly a gamer, though I spend just as much time watching television or reading books.) Finally, there is a stigma associated with video games. The implication is that if you are a gamer, then you are fat, lazy, and slow. Now, I’ll admit, I have an embarrassingly high correlation in my group of friends with gaming and with fat and lazy. However, this stereotype still exists, and acts as a kind of entrance bar for others who might be interested in gaming. People obviously don’t want others to think of them as fat losers who spend all their time indoors shunning life.

    But that’s not really what this post is about, is it? This is about recreational gaming, and why you can’t understand it. Well, let me say that I, as a gamer, never really got into sports games. Why? Well, there have been a few exceptions, but mostly because I’m not terribly knowledgeable when it comes to sports. Most sports games require you to already know strategy, and in many cases, player and team stats. Required might be the wrong word, but if you come into the game with an understanding of who is good, and who sucks, you clearly have an advantage. Why does this matter? Well, you said that you couldn’t understand those who choose to play virtual sports over real sports, and I personally think that they don’t really exist. If you are devoting time to a sports game, chances are you already a fan of that sport. Now, I’m not saying that most sports fans have played their sport of choice competitively at some level at some point or their lives, but I am saying that nobody asks “Why would you want to watch a football game on Sunday when you can go out into the backyard and toss a ball around yourself?”

    Now, as for other games like Halo, or Starcraft II, or WoW, I could argue their merits and site specific examples of how they test your reaction time, strategy, or ability to think on your feet, but that would be an even wordier paragraph than my previous ones, and I actually have work that I should be doing. I will, however, make two points and leave it at that. One, these games are just fun. I know, it’s probably not everybody’s cup of tea, and if you haven’t spent your whole life playing video games (I was 3 when we got our first NES and have been playing for over 2 decades now), then there is undoubtedly a steep learning curve to finding these games accessible. However, to those of us who know them, they are just fun. Need there be any other justification for playing them? Two, which ties back into my first point, is that you (and most who don’t understand this), are simply ignorant and inexperienced. I don’t mean that harshly, but it’s true: if you don’t play games, it’s probably easy to not understand them, have misconceptions about them, and view them as something other than positive or having value. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Comic books were deemed corrosive to America’s youth (though today, few would argue the literary merits of Watchmen, or the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus), rap music was deemed obscene (truth be told, I’m not really into rap music, but I’m definitely opposed to censorship), and today, right now, there is a case that is about to be heard by the supreme court to decide whether or not games can be sold to and played by minors. To me, and others who view games as a new form of art ripe with potential and promise, this is incredibly sad. It’s the same story with a new main character. A Greek tragedy. This only happens because people don’t understand the medium, and dismiss it because of the negative stereotypes associated with it. My point, albeit delivered somewhat melodramatically, is simply that rather than immediately saying something is negative (Exhibit A: “HOW do people just stay inside and play video games? Don’t you get stir crazy? Have to get out? Don’t you want to play pick-up real sports and not pretend sports??”), you should simply say that you don’t understand it.

    You, DCSpy, are not the problem, as this post openly expresses your ignorance, but still. It makes me a little sad that this medium has been around for over three decades, is played by potentially billions of people (I have absolutely no clue if that’s accurate), certainly everyone has at least played a flash game while bored at work, and yet there is still so much negative stigma attached to it.

    All of that being said, I don’t understand anyone who could go to a major league gaming convention as a spectator. I mean, don’t you want to play? I for one will be sitting the convention out. Though I can’t say that won’t be passing the time with video games.

  3. you are exactly right. gamers are all fat, disgusting losers. Thank you for your great insight.

    By the way, grade school called and they want their class bully back.

  4. Okay. I am a girl who doesn’t like video games who runs a lighthearted humor website. It’s all in fun. My co-writer (ironcityspy) loves video games, hence me referencing him in the post and his response in the comments. I wanted counterarguments!

  5. Ouch, phosphoro. I don’t think you see the point. DCSpy was pretty open about her ignorance in her post, and went so far as to ask the audience who disagrees with her to send her counter-arguments. Biting back like that just makes you sound like you’re PMSing.

  6. “Why would you want to watch a football game on Sunday when you can go out into the backyard and toss a ball around yourself?” – My father asked me this just about every time he saw me watching sports on television.

    As a former gamer I feel:

    1) yes, over 2 hours a week = nerd, not “social distractor” but rather social killer;
    2) it is much better to go out and actually play a sport;
    3) i seriously doubt the hand eye coordination comment. i don’t think anyone’s tennis or baseball hand/eye skill is improving much due to video games;

  7. I used to think that video games were just harmless entertainment for your average 35 yr old manchild living in his parent’s basement. Until the military started killing people with drones………Now I’m not so sure about the harmless part.
    What’s next? Blowing away Bambi, Bambi’s mother, the Prince of the Forest, & Thumper without every moving off the couch?
    Hand/eye coordination is not the skill set I worry about.

  8. thanks.
    Took me time to look at all the posts, and love the article. It proved to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here.
    It’s always great to not only be informed, but also engaged! I know you had fun penning this post.
    Thanks again

  9. @DCspy:
    Looks like I’m a bit late to the party as far as this article is concerned, but I haven’t seen anyone produce a good counter-argument as of yet, so I thought I’d offer one. Instead of arguing why ‘gamers of the world are the more enlightened race’, which obviously isn’t true, I’ll just describe a few reasons why competitive gaming isn’t a waste of time and address some of the stereotypes that folks have of those who game for a living.

    There’s an incredible amount of skill that goes into high-level gaming, and the types of skill involved vary from game to game. Halo, for example, is largely team-based, and so while the aforementioned ‘hand-eye coordination’ aspect is definitely there, it’s much less important (because all the pros are exceptional in this regard) than teamwork, strategic planning, and quick adaptation – desirable qualities in every context, Halo or otherwise. Imagine the strategy of football, but without time to think between downs, with action happening at a much faster pace. Speed chess is actually a better comparison for the operational tempo of high-level Halo, except that in Halo it’s 4 versus 4 instead of 1 on 1. As such, a high-level match of Halo typically will result in all 4 players communicating in constant rapid-fire short-hand throughout the game (“2 shots, snipe, R1!”), letting each other know where every other player is, what weapon(s) he’s carrying, what his shields/health levels are, when power weapons and custom powerups are spawning, where other players are spawning, what strategies the opposing team is using, where teammates should be to control spawns, and on and on. There’s simply no equivalent level/rate of communication in traditional sports – it’s all much slower than professional Halo in that regard.

    Other games, like Starcraft, require incredible levels of both micromanagement mechanics (individual unit control and the number of actions you can do in a minute; check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbpCLqryN-Q to see what I’m talking about) and macromanagement (building units/bases, controlling the pace of the game, strategy, etc), and is considered by many to be at the top of the heap when it comes to skill-based competitive gaming. These players train as hard as or harder than virtually all ‘real’ athletes – between 8 to 13 hours a day, every day – in order to compete at the highest levels. And much like athletes in physical sports, the best players tend to exhibit a natural talent for the game and nurture it through hard work – not anyone can just play all day and become a pro Starcraft player. In fact, in Korea (where Starcraft is basically a national sport), brain imaging tests have been conducted comparing pro gamers to regular gamers, finding that top-level players have physical characteristics (such as regions of the brain active during play) which separate them from regular gamers. More recent research points to certain types of games, like first-person shooters, in which players appear to optimize neural connections associated with reaction time, object recognition time, and trajectory prediction of objects, potentially resulting in promising treatments for people with certain types of debilitating brain injuries. It’s an interesting direction for neuropsychology.

    One of the most common stereotypes about professional gamers is that they’re fat, slovenly beings who sustain themselves on a mixture of mountain dew and curly fries. This is about as far from correct a stereotype is capable of being, but makes sense if you have known some people who game all the time and assume that since professional gamers must play more often to compete at a high level, by extension they must not exercise as much as other people do. That’s incorrect, though, as most professional gamers are exceedingly fit (although you can cherry pick examples of those who aren’t) with many adhering to cardio-centric exercise routines which help increase their endurance/stamina for long days of gaming (especially over multi-day tournaments such as MLG), promote improved respiration and bloodflow circulation (which helps players remain calm – mentally and physically – during competition), and to speed recovery from periods of extreme stress. It’s better to think of gamers as being competitive people first and gamers second — many were heavily involved in sports during high school/college and see gaming as another domain of competition.

    So I hope that helps address a few of your qualms about competitive gaming. It’s poorly understood by most people in the US at present, but that will probably change over time since events like the MLG Pro Circuit are drawing more and more people each year. Until then, folks like me will try to complicate the positions of people like yourself in a useful way, and maybe you’ll even develop some respect for the skill and dedication which goes into being a professional gamer.

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