Pro-gaming in the United States is just not taking off the way some people expected. Cyberathletes Professional League shut down last year. In November, Championship Gaming Series bit the dust as well. Although Major League Gaming is still humming along, and plans to make a profit this year, this is not the outcome many expected for videogaming as a sport.
Where gamers once dreamed of making big, pro-athlete salaries, in today's climate, even the best players are going back to working real jobs. Like the guy in the picture of above. That's Emmanuel Rodriguez. He's among the best Dead or Alive 4 players on earth. He works at Sam's Club. With no league currently sponsoring DOA 4 tournaments, Rodriguez has gone back to his old gig.
The New York Times recently ran an article about the sinking fortunes of pro gaming , and cited the shrinking economy as a major reason many gaming leagues have shut down. "Personal-computer gaming tournaments and sponsorships have been hit particularly hard by the recession," reports the Times. This is undoubtedly true, but in my opinion, there's another reason pro-gaming hasn't taken over professional sports in the United States: It's a really bad idea.
It's a great idea for pro-gamers themselves, sure, who can make a decent living doing what they love, and maybe even get rich. But it's a terrible idea for everyone else. Terrible for the organizers of leagues, terrible for the "fans." Just terrible. Here's why: In spite of hyped-up news reports and press releases about video games being the sport of the future, it's just not that interesting to watch. I don't think there's any way to make it interesting to watch, either.
No matter how good a player is at Halo 3, watching a deathmatch will never be as awesome as watching Lebron James swish a three-pointer or Donovan McNabb break a tackle behind the line and fire off a back-footed 30 yard pass. Even with crazy hype and endorsement deals, big stadiums and announcers, and even though pro-gamers are the best in the world at their game, at the end of the day, checking out "cyber sports" is still just watching other dudes play video games. And that's just not too interesting to too many people.
The above is just my opinion, of course. Perhaps you feel differently. Let me know in the comment section below... and by the way, yes, I know spectator StarCraft is huge in Korea. I have no idea why.