Video games puts big bucks in players' hands - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Video games puts big bucks in players' hands

By Claudia Shea bio | email
Posted by Rachel Leigh email

(WFLX) - Thousands of dollars are on the line, and people in their late teens and early 20s are trying to cash in big.

"In the early 1970s, an early dawn rose on what would become a multi-billion dollar industry, and it all started with the Star Wars looking game called "Computer Space". It was entirely in black and white and released a full year before "Pong". It pre-advanced games like Pacman, and pinball games, like Gold Strike, soon followed.

Meanwhile, mall arcades began popping up all over the country.

Today, those arcades look very different. Hidden inside strip malls are large screen TVs, dozens of high speed computers equipped with the latest games, and an endless supply of snacks. "They could play everything from the Guitar Hero to the Rock Band games," said Nick Fitzsimmons. "We'll have a group of four guys coming in there playing on the drums, on the guitar and singing on the microphone to a lot more hardcore stuff like World of Warcraft."

Fitzsimmons is one of the creators of this 21st century arcade. "We try to be a home for casual gamers on a daily basis and also for competitive gaming. We like to hold a lot of tournaments, as well."

Parents aren't going to like hearing this, but video game tournaments are bringing in big cash. "It's like $20 a person, and you come in, and you're still competing for $1,500, but it's not the end of the world if you don't win."

Now, $500 is a lot of money to win for a casual gamer, but it's mere pennies to a professional like Ryan Bell "Here we go; I'm going to creep down. Middle, middle, middle, I'm blind."

Ryan is a 24 year old who is under contract to play a game called Counterstrike meaning this is his paid job. Ryan is apart of Team X3O.

Nick is the coach; however, Ryan sits alone at the computer. His teammates are scattered along the East Coast linked together through a headset and a high speed Internet connection. "The only time we really see each other is when we go to these tournaments, but since we spend so much time online talking with each other, it's like I've been hanging out with them all these months."

Exactly how much time are we talking about? Four hours a day, five days a week for the last eight months. That's roughly 640 hours playing one game, over and over and over again. "I view this as just like any other sport. Like you have basketball, baseball, you practice that, you have practice after school. This to me is the same thing."

And practice has helped to make these guys nearly perfect. They've won or placed in nine tournaments so far this year. "This is something I love to do, so, eventually, you have to get back to that 9 to 5 job, but the thing about that is that you can still have the 9 to 5 job, have your salary, but still come back and play at night."

Ryan's '9 to 5' job, by the way, is a part-time pizza delivery driver.

Now, before you criticize what Ryan does, his team has pulled in a total of $25,000. Nick and Ryan are pleased with their teams success so far; however, they hope their wins so far in the states will lead to even bigger cash prizes throughout the world. "If you placed top three in every tournament, internationally, probably, I'd say $50,000 each."

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