The NFL, MLB the NBA and now MLG; the age of the Cyber-Athlete

Did you know there was a video gaming league?  In fact, did you know that, according to Alan
Feurer in his New York Times article
that, “Major League Gaming [is]
North America’s foremost video-gaming league?”

That is what you will learn in Feurer’s interesting
piece, “Seeking to Be Both N.F.L. and ESPN of Video Gaming.” Here is how Feurer
frames it:

If you are not part
of the target demographic — young men, 18 to 34 years old — you probably have
never heard of Major League Gaming and are no doubt unaware that in the last 10
years, it has gradually emerged as the N.F.L. of the professional gaming world.

M.L.G., as the league is often called, has played a central role in turning
video games, once considered mere entertainments, into an organized, and highly
lucrative, form of sport

Amateurs and
pro’s compete as individuals and teams. 
There are even on-line qualifiers for those who want to move from the
amateur to professional levels.  The
League determines which games will be competitive platforms.  According to Wikipedia:
MLG: Play online platform currently features more than 40 titles
including Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, League of Legends, DOTA 2,
StarCraft II and many more. The Halo franchise was featured on the MLG
Pro Circuit from 2002 – 2012. The most recent Pro Circuit Championship
in June featured Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on Xbox, League of Legends
and StarCraft II.”

Yes, we are
entering the age of the “cyber-athlete.”
Think this is just some idiosyncratic phenomenon?  Well, just consider this:  The U.S. government recently issued the first
ever athlete visa to a professional video gamer.
  Here is how the website Kotaku puts it; “the
US government to include eSports contestants under the
visa policy that allows professional athletes
from other countries to visit
for purposes of competition. The first such visa has been awarded, to a
Canadian League of Legends
star. Danny “Shiphtur” Le, of Edmonton.”

It is
interesting to look at the statistics that Feurer cites in his article:

  • 8 million
    people, mostly men and in their 20’s are registered MLG users.
  • 11.7 million
    unique viewers visited the MLG site in the last year
    (a 500% increase)
  • The MLG
    broadcasts matches to 170 countries

But what
makes someone a professional video gamer? 
How does it differ than being a family room gamer?  That in my next posting.



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