September 19, 2002

GAME OVER, GLOBE Another remarkably


Another remarkably ignorant article on professional computer gaming, this time by Felix Vikhman, who shows that he's invested absolutely no more time that he absolutely had to, hanging out with what I still believe is one of the more interesting emergent youth phenomena of our time: professional computer gamers.

For those of you, like Felix, who would like to pretend to belong in the gamers' culture long enough to write a hash article and then escape to tell of your escapades to the normal people back home, here's a few tips:

*The company that makes specialty mice for gamers is Razer, not Razor;

*The nickname of the first pro computer gaming star Dennis Fong, was "Thresh," not "Thrush." Thresh also was never "defeated" by current earnings leader Johnathan "Fatality" Wendel, at least not in the boxing-belt sense (I imagine they've played a game or two against each other over the years)... Thresh had essentially retired from competition in late 1998, and Wendel's breakthrough first tournament was in January of 2000.

*The appropriate term for competitions in digital virtual environments played on PC-type computers is "computer games," not "video games," which is a term generally reserved for games played on video game consoles. "Computer video games" or "PC games" are also acceptable. There is no serious professional competition currently involving console titles, as they are generally not as adaptable to the kind of networked (ie LAN) set up that is required for competitive play.

*The game that succeeded in finally dethroning the Quake series as the epitome of competitive playing environments is Counter-Strike, not Counter Strike (It was invented by a Canadian, so the Globe really should pay more attention.) And I swear to god that all the years I played it, both in real life or computer, I never called the underlying action "Quest for the Flag." Jeez, did Felix's mom never allow him to play with the other kids, or something?

Look, having hovered on the edges for years, I can see the limitations and general oddness of the computer gaming scene as well as anyone. But I can also see its potential, its artistry, and the capacity for higher emotions (individual joy, communal triumph, a sporting nobility in defeat) it can engender in the participants. But I'll only know pro gaming has finally grown up when hacks can no longer get paid by a major newspaper for yet another version of a "look at those funny people over there" article.

A slightly more researched (ahem) history of the early years of the pro gaming circuit can be found here.

Posted by BruceR at 12:47 PM