This time, though, there are bits of truth in the hype. Though much of the cyber revolution is largely a media-created phenomenon with movies like The Net and countless television programs purveying what a friend likes to call the "Hollywood Internet," the seeds are sown for a real pixelized paradigm shift as Wired magazine lets us know every month. One indicator of the future is the evolution of video games. Turning the refrigerator-sized arcade games of yesteryear into quaint conversation pieces, games for home computer systems conjure environments and characters capable of evoking emotional responses that blips and rectangles never could.
Quake 3, a first-person shooter game, uses that technology to make war in its own reality. Players take on a character whose sole perspective on life is through the sights of a gun. Although short on plot, Quake 3 is long on big weapons, quad damage, and carnage. The object is to collect bigger weapons and better armor while killing opponents and avoiding death as the character navigates different levels. Nothing too revolutionary there. However, it progresses in its ability to network with the systems of like-minded gamers so they can compete against each other in real time, killing off characters played by other real people. Gamers respond to each other's actions, and the loser is blown to a bloody pulp by machine gun, rocket launcher, or any other firearm in the arsenal of Schwarzenegger-worthy weapons.
Though playing against a computer can be difficult at first, one can learn and then defeat its routines or patterns of play. The ability to compete against other practiced and unpredictable players who can potentially out-think, out-wait, or out-strategize you results in realistic competition, making it, for some, more than just a pastime. In fact there are now leagues for these diehard gamers, as well as places where they can compete for more than points. On Saturday, Main Street Internet Company hosts the Turtle Beach $1,000 Quake 3 Tournament, which also serves as an official qualifying site for the December 14-17 Quake 3 tournament put on by Dallas' Cyberathlete Professional League, the NFC and AFC of professional gamers. Don't discount computer gaming because it's the sport where the athletes can train with a soda and a pastry within arm's length, because here the skills pay the bills with $1,000 going to the tournament's winner and $25,000 to the top player at the CPL contest.
An indoor sport that can earn mad cash without damaging your knees or subjecting you to Texas weather--it is a good time to be alive.