Serious gamers now have their own certified Olympic tournament, with 37 countries competing to win around £212,000 worth of prizes in the first World Cyber Games. Up for grabs are gaming goodies from Elsa, nVidia, Sennheiser and Saitek.
The tournament finals, which opened today in Seoul, South Korea, pit the cream of gaming talent from across the world against each other. Some 450 players will battle to prevail in the struggle for cyber-Olympic gold.
The weapons of choice for the showdown include Quake 3: Arena, Half-Life: Counter Strike and StarCraft: Brood War, picked for their widespread popularity among the trigger-happy members of the gaming community.
Main sponsor Samsung is particularly proud to have attained official Olympic status for the World Cyber Games. It not only ties up neatly with the company's sponsorship of last year's Olympic games in Sydney, but it fits with the youthful image the company wants to promote.
"The youth are the customers of the future and, as the digital e-company of the future, it fits our company's profile to be involved in the games and to witness first hand e-technology at play," says Samsung's Y H Min.
Finalists from each country won online duels against their fellow countrymen and women. Contenders logged on to their country's designated WCG site — for the UK, that was www.worldcybergames.org/uk — to fight for a place in the five-day face-off in Korea.
You can watch the tournament via live broadcasts as the action unfolds at www.worldcybergames.org.
Further World Cyber Games will take place in major cities around the world beginning in 2003, according to the WCG organising body.