The last time Virgin was associated with video games, we were popping 7UP Cool Spot cartridges into our consoles, but the company is taking a different approach this around time with Virgin Gaming, a gaming tournament-focused social network that could send you into outerspace -- no joke.
There are a variety of ways to participate in gaming tournaments, but Virgin Gaming argues too much is focused on intensely competitive professional leagues. Even though part of my job is to play video games for a living, none of that qualifies me to join a professional gaming league. Combine that with the fact that most non-sports games don't feature tournament structures and there's an opportunity for someone to come in and do something interesting. Virgin Gaming wants to level the playing field a bit and provide a place where gamers can be regularly matched together on a similar level.
Virgin Gaming will support Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games at launch, but only select games. On Xbox 360: Halo 3, Madden NFL 10, FIFA 10, NHL 10 and NCAA Football 10. On PlayStation 3: Fight Night Round 4, Madden 10, FIFA 10, NHL 10, NCAA Football 10, ModNation Racers and UFC Undisputed 2010. Gamers will be able to influence which games are added once it all launches.
To actually compete requires making a free account at www.virgingaming.com. Besides having regular organized tournaments simply for fun, a major hook of Virgin Gaming is going to be the luxurious prizes. Seriously. Virgin Gaming will be giving away $1 million over the next year. It's not all in a lump sum, but Virgin Gaming tournament prizes will range anywhere from $500 to $50,000. Not bad.
It could get much cooler, though. While it's not officially on the docket yet, Virgin Gaming reps told me there's nothing really preventing them from eventually offering someone the chance to hitch a ride on Virgin Galactic, Virgin's flight initiative to allow space travel to the (rich) everyman.
To the parents who told you games would never get you anywhere, how about going to space?