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Competitive Gaming

It's a 21st century fantasy we've heard from more than one kid: "Hey, if people can get rich playing baseball, or poker, why not video games? You know, there are professional tournaments, Mom! If I get really good at Halo 3, maybe I can start winning them..."

Well, umm, like many things, it's, err, theoretically possible. At the very pinnacle of the profession, there are indeed a handful of folks like Tom Taylor (a.k.a. Tsquared). Taylor reportedly earns $120-$150,000 per year, signed a $250,000 contract with Major League Gaming, and has been covered everywhere from The Wall Street Journal to MTV. (Taylor supplements his income by coaching: The Journal reports that you can hire him for $65 an hour to take your own Halo "skillz" to the next level.)

The aforementioned Major League Gaming was recently fortified by a big deal with ESPN. It'll run a five-event "Pro Circuit" this year, plus October playoffs in Dallas. Teams of four will compete in Halo 3 for top prizes of $20,000; the Dallas national championship winners will split $100K. Much smaller pots are available for similar competitions in Gears of War and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.

Of course, you've got to qualify. And that's no easy task: four thousand teams signed up for one recent online qualifying tournament. Becoming the next Tsquared won't be quite as hard as winning the lottery. But close.

MLG isn't the only competitive gaming league. GGL will host the 2008 Digital Games Global Video Gaming Tournament in Shanghai, an Official 2008 Olympic Games Welcome Event (not to be confused with an actual Olympics event). The South Korea-based World Cyber Games held its Grand Final in Seattle last year, bringing together more than 700 of the world's best gamers (Team USA won). And six U.S. ten-player teams compete in the worldwide Championship Gaming Series, earning wages reported to range from $2,500 to $3,500 per month. (For you trivia fans, the U.S. teams are: the Los Angeles Complexity, New York 3D, Chicago Chimera, Carolina Core, San Francisco Optx, and Dallas Venom.)

Bottom line: for videogamers, there's more and more fame available. But fortune? Don't count on it.

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