Although competitive video gaming typically doesn’t get sports section coverage in most newspapers – yet – games themselves earn attention in entertainment and technology pages. Invite students to find reports or reviews about popular releases, perhaps as part of a gaming or tech blog.
If gaming fans want more coverage, or any coverage, suggest they send a letter, e-mail message or petition to the sports editor or entertainment editor that tells why video gaming news is important and would attract young readers.
Other fringe sports or recreational activities also may fall below the news media’s radar until they gain widespread interest. Challenge class members to list a few recreational or professional sports that seemed “out there” at first, but now are major industries and even Olympic sports in some cases. Start a discussion about how readers can help journalists spot emerging trends.
Baseball and poker aren’t the only games with nationally televised World Series coverage, now that a newcomer has broken into network TV. The CBS Sports Spectacular during New Year’s weekend included a one-hour special called “They Got Game: The Stars of the World Series of Video Games.” It focused on five rising stars of the professional video gaming circuit who competed for up to $50,000 in prize money at a mid-December championship in Manhattan that was the first of its kind.
Saturday’s show followed 20 hours of TV programming on MTV, College Sports Television (CSTV) and other cable outlets. A half-hour feature, “Inside the World Series of Video Games,” can be seen at www.games.mtv.com. U.S. stars of the sport, as insiders call it, include a 25-year-old Johnathan Wendel and Shannon Ridge, a minister’s daughter who is now a Halo run-and-gunner. An 8-year-old phenomenon, Victor De Leon of New York, calls himself Lil Poison and earns money from tournaments, sponsorships and endorsements. His website proclaims him as the “world’s youngest professional gamer.”
Faceoffs on Counter-Strike 1.6, Halo 2,Quake 4, Project Gotham Racing 3, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Warcraft III: Frozen Throne took place this year in England, Sweden, China and U.S. cities. Ninety-five gamers who “fragged” (demolished) opponents were flown to New York from around the world for a three-day showdown on Intel PC and Xbox games. Full coverage of the finals will air as a five-week series on CSTV, a CBS company, starting Jan. 21. Champs and runners-up play exhibition matches next week on two stages at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Organizer says: “This needs to be treated as sports television. Video games are now a true competitive sport. Whenever you see some of these guys compete, it’s really like watching professional athletes up close and personal. It’s amazing to watch what they do.” – Matt Ringel, co-founder of the World Series of Video Games
Cashing in: Wendel (known online as “Fatal1ty”) won $231,000 in tournaments last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, and made twice that from licensing agreements with computer and clothing manufacturers. Tom (“Tsquared”) Taylor, 18, has made more than $450,000 since turning pro in 2004.
Skeptic says: “People want to play games and not watch them.” – Geoff Keighley, host of “Game Head,” a weekly news magazine show about the industry on SpikeTV
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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