January 23, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 63  

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Geeks unite! Computer gaming a legitimate sport

On the DL
David Lee

Sports Editor

Gazette file photo
GAMES, GAMES, GAMES. Gamers will be happy this weekend when they’re playing PS2 among other systems.

It’s exciting, it’s fast-paced and it exercises your wrist and your mind. No, not that. I’m talking about competitive video gaming.

That’s right. Whether you know it or not, lots of people around the world — myself included — now regard playing computer games competitively as a genuine sport.

I can see the dissenting letters already. “There’s no physical activity, the athletes are fat bastards and there’s no skill involved.” Allow me to pre-emptively retort.

First, I’ll admit that physical activity plays little part in playing computer games. However, you still need plenty of hand-eye co-ordination, as players have to work a keyboard with one hand — certainly a familiar phenomenon for many lonely gamers — and the mouse with the other. Modern first-person shooters have so many keyboard commands that your hands have to be as quick as your wits.

As for required skills, you’d be surprised at what you need. Besides fast reflexes, you also have to strategize effectively on your feet. The mental aspect of gaming is vast and unlike a turn-based game like chess or Risk, the decisions are made on the fly.

As for the lack of fitness in gamers, I must concede. Gaming is not conducive to fitness, as the hours of practice are stationary (unless you’re one of those freaks that spends his time at Dance Dance Revolution.) Also, the foods linked with gaming aren’t exactly healthy. When it’s 3 a.m. and you’re playing a pitched game of Battlefield 1942, few things sate the appetite better than the vaunted quarter pounder, despite the digestive troubles that inevitably occur around 5 a.m..

In South Korea (the North is too busy with nukes), competitive gaming is already huge. Top gamers are celebrities and three TV stations devote themselves to covering tournaments, reviewing new titles and interviewing game developers and players.

This weekend, Western plays host to its first-ever campus-wide LAN party to take place outside of residence. For a full 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday, the University Community Centre will be packed with avid gamers. As of writing, over 60 people have registered and it’s likely that even more will do so before Saturday.

So don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. If you still think that gaming isn’t a sport, I’d need more space than this to convince you otherwise. In the meantime, for the believers and the easily converted, I’m looking forward to seeing your “mad leet skillz” this weekend.



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