Cyber? Get Sober…

Wired notes that the Cyberathlete Professional League is on the verge of going big, as they have secured a $45 million round of venture financing to take the next step in broadening the appeal of their product beyond the current base of hardcore online gamers (assists on the play go to SportsFilter and Shift).

Personally speaking, I don't think gaming has anything remotely athletic about it. The notion that the hand-eye coordination required to play Quake is somehow worthy of an "athletic league" is preposterous. Hey, you're good at what you do, and you have great competitions, but don't call yourself athletes … maybe use the term warriors instead, or something.

What's interesting is that the CPL is drawing audiences for their tournaments, which feature contestants that do not have a physical embodiment, but rather are controlled by a highly-skilled cyber-puppeteer. Now suppose this idea was translated into something that more closely approximated traditional sport, but perhaps offered features that could not exist in reality, such as the zero gravity battlefield games found in Ender's Game. Would this attract a niche comparable in size to that the CPL currently draws? Would it consist of the same community of hardcore online gamers, or would it steal some of today's sport media consumers? If the latter is true, how will the sportocracy respond? Or will they be the ones running the whole thing?


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