Pro-Gaming a “Next Big Thing?”

CNet has coverage of the SXSWi panel on professional gaming.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the panelists (a mix of pro-gamers, developers and investors) were pretty bullish on the potential of the sport”

“…all seemed to agree that professional video gaming could be a lucrative vocation for almost anyone willing to put in the time and energy to become a top player. And that, they said, separates and democratizes the sport and separates it from baseball or basketball, which are available professionally to only world-class athletes.”

Personally, I think that last point is one of the “sports” big problems.  If a “sport” is too inclusive is ceases to be a compelling draw for the spectator.  It’s the visible level of difficulty that makes most sports so watchable.  Sure, there is skill involved in gaming, but it isn’t something that can be felt viscerally by the viewer.  Which leads to pro-gaming’s second issue:

“A big piece of that puzzle, however, is for the leagues and publishers to figure out how to make the matches palatable to TV, or at least Web, viewers. To date, most professional video gaming is hard to watch as a spectator.”

That’s pretty huge.  I’m not saying there isn’t a future in gaming as a spectator sport, but I don’t think it will grow up around people watching Quake or Madden08 on ESPN.

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