Some day, twenty or thirty years from now, our children and grandchildren will recall the days when their relatives began what was the future of online activity. Twenty or thirty years from now, people will look back to the beginning of online gaming, to the personalities involved and see what was the beginning of a new sport.
As we may look upon the great people of baseball, like Babe Ruth and the Yankees of old, people will look back on us and at the best gamers of our time, and they will wonder if they were as good.
In twenty or thirty years, people will know the name id. They will know the name Pro Gaming League (PGL). They will even know the names Thresh and Entropy. Every aspiring gamer will look upon those of us now, those who are considered the elite, as heroes.
Beginning now with is the future of gaming and online sports.
This is not simply a dream. It is a not a notion to be discarded. It is and will become a reality. The PGL will help make it happen. Sponsored by TEN, AMD, 3Com/US Robotics, Creative Labs, GTE Internetworking, Logitech, Rendition and possibly many others, the PGL has both the support of the gamers as well as companies with the funds needed to start such a great project.
The foundation of an online sport has to begin somewhere, and so far, the PGL is the first organization with enough support, and they plan to make it happen. The Cyberatheletes is another group with similar ideals except they have eliminated the online aspect from the Pro Gaming vision. It may come to pass that PGL becomes the beginning of the Pro Online Gaming organization, and the Cyberathelete team becomes a leading force in the league, should the Cyberathelete team decide to compete over the Internet. However, it may also come to pass that the PGL moves to a LAN system.
This is not to say that the PGL will surely go off without a hitch. As we have seen with Mplayer’s Red Annihilation tournament, using an Online Gaming Service (OGS) to run a tournament (in this case a league) has both its ups and downs. As many found out from Mplayer, connections through an OGS are not always the best.
Online leagues are also not invulnerable to cheating, which is becoming more and more apparent in Quake these days. Between bots, bar-cheats, pak2 files and the like, the OGS, which in the case of PGL is the Total Entertainment Network (TEN), will have to find a way to prevent client-side cheating in order to make the online future a fair and level playing field.
Of course, the future of Online Gaming will eventually not be online at all. Regional LANs are the future for Gaming as a professional sport. With major cities competing (as in other pro sports organizations), each with their own pro team, gamers will fly from each “stadium LAN” around the country to compete with one another to become the top gamers of the most current game on the scene.
Pro Gaming will become much like any other professional sport. Divisions within the country will each compete to have the honor of competing in playoffs to determine the best player/team in the U.S. The all-star game each season will feature the best players from throughout the country, and “Dream Teams” will compete with other teams from around the world.
The great thing about this gaming future is the ease with which fans will be able to interact and view the games. Each individual match can be watched first-hand as it happens directly over the Internet. People wishing to watch can either go to the regional LAN itself and watch on big screens as the players compete below in a central arena, or they can sit home at their own computer (or television…) and view the games through the eyes of the players themselves. Games can be easily recorded through any given player’s view, and camera angles can be adjusted after games to get the best views of the action.
The future of gaming is a professional league. PGL is the beginning of the future. While the PGL is bound to encounter problems throughout the first season or two, the funds are present for several seasons, and all problems encountered should be fixed as time progresses, making PGL the foremost leader in the push to make gaming a pro sport.
Professional gaming will be populated in the same fashion as current professional sports: through college leagues and possibly “minor leagues.” As gaming becomes more and more respected, colleges will soon field their own teams to play intramural online games for national standing.
As players graduate, minor leagues and pro leagues will accept them based upon current skill level. Some players will move directly into the Pro league, to compete with the best around the country. Others will continue to train and hone skills in the minor leagues, prepping for a time when they might advance.
A pro league also becomes more and more possible as the country moves closer to a completely computerized society. As the population of computer uses continues to grow, more people grow interested, and more gamers have access to machines. And thus the market is open to more people, and sponsors will be more willing to partake in the leagues because of the advertising potential.
Sponsors can easily advertise their product to the public during games, through team names, and the like, and thus will gain notoriety for their own business and help spread the popularity of the Pro Gaming League.
Eventually, there will be a time when audiences will attend stadiums to watch hour-long games between two teams who will play a variety of games. Many games will be played, rather than a single game in a single match. Thus players will have to be skilled in more than one gaming genre. Those that possess exceptional talent in all of the games will be prized players by the organization, and will most likely be sponsored or endorsed by many computer-related corporations.
From real-time strategy to first-person shooter, each online gaming team will have to field the best team that they think can beat a given team from another city. With limited members per team, the manager will need to select the best few given the strengths and weaknesses of the other team in order to win.
Another factor in favor of a Pro Gaming League is the simple fact that there is no off-season. Games can be played throughout the entire year, and thus more than one season can occur every few months. And after each season, teams will change, sponsors will change and expand and make changes, and the next season will be very different than the one before. Therefore any given season will be a unique competition, and no one will be able to clearly predict the winner.
The future is online. It will start slowly but pick up pace quickly. Soon after college leagues will be the beginnings of a finalized pro league. Players will filter out of college into the pro leagues, and it will continue to expand and change as new games are developed and current games are modified. And as the league gains support, it will move to a LAN system in stadiums around the country.
There is a definite future for pro gaming. Just think…in another ten years we may see a gamer strike akin to the baseball strike a few years ago. Or an owner threatening to move his team to another city if he does not get a new stadium. Free agents will be holding out for more money. And monumental gamer trades will be on the front page of the Sports section in the newspaper.
It will happen. The only question is when.