Multiplayer games and tournaments are now offering cash prizes, adding to the thrill of competing. To participate, a valid credit card or paypal account is required. And, a player must live in a state or country that has no laws against online gaming for money. Sites which promote such activities are: www.worldwinner.com and www.arkadium.com
Gaming leagues are becoming professional and organize competitions where cash prizes are worth over US$ 100,000 in cash. These events are seen as business and marketing development opportunities. Hardware manufacturing giants like Intel sponsor gaming clans and see gaming world-wide as a profitable avenue for promoting their products. High-stake gaming competitions are popular, but the real fights occur behind the scenes, where companies spend millions trying to get their technology directly into the hands of gamers.
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Professional gaming has taken the world by storm and, LAN competitions are high-stake tournaments with a few gamers earning a living just competing. A professional gamer with a sponsorship plan in place can earn up to US$ 500,000 per year. Cyberathlete, Professional League, Gamecaster, Global gaming League, are some of the organizations that host competitions. The first professional gaming league was set up in 1997 and today the competitions are not just televised but covered by major publications and newspapers. MTV, CNN,ESPN, USA Network, ABC World News Today, FOX, WB and others telecast the events live.
Gamers from all walks of life train intensely to become virtual world champions, winning brings fame, money, as well as recognition. And, since 2001 The World Cyber Games are held in a different country each year. The prize in 2004 was worth US$ 400, 000 and competitors played: FIFA Soccer 2004, Need for Speed, Underground, Star-Craft, Brood War, Unreal Tournament 2004, Dawn of war, Dead or Alive Ultimate, and Halo 2.
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Gaming is serious; it is about quick thinking, intense practice, team work, interaction with other players, and understanding technology at its best. Gamers have to be on their toes, keep abreast with new launches, changes, patches, cheats, and more.
According to online gaming expert Psychologist Professor Mark Griffiths, “online gaming addiction for a small minority is a real phenomenon and people suffer the same symptoms as traditional addictions. They are the types of games that completely engross the player. They are not games that you can play for 20 minutes and stop. If you are going to take it seriously, you have to spend time doing it”
That gaming is taken seriously is confirmed, many major colleges are offering minor as well as major courses in game design, animation, cognition and gaming, computer music, psychology of play and more. RPI, the Pratt Institute, University of Colorado, the Art Institute of Phoenix, the University of Washington, and the University of Pennsylvania are among those that have programs in computer graphics and game technology. They are set to become a feeder system for the US$ 10 billion a year game industry.