Wednesday, November 22, 2006
7 News Features: Professional Video Gaming
If you're looking for a gift for the holidays, you might want to try a video game -- but don't think of it as entertainment, think of it as an investment. As Louis Aguirre shows us, some kids aren't just playing to win, they're getting paid to play.
WSVN -- Meet Tom Taylor, better known as T-Squared.
These are his tools, these are his work clothes, and this is his office.
But T-Squared doesn't just play video games, he plays video games professionally.
The Jupiter High School dropout is one of the star performers for an up-and-coming pro circuit called MLG -- Major League Gaming.
Tom Taylor: "Think of it like a professional poker player, skateboarder, things like that."
Before you laugh, guess how much he'll earn this year.
It's more than Dick Cheney makes as Vice President.
More than Serena Williams made on the tennis court.
His total annual salary: $250,000.
Tom Taylor: "I try to treat it like any kind of sport."
And, like most athletes, he has practice...
Tom Taylor: "I try to dedicate three hours a night between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m."
Tom Taylor: "If someone touches my controller, I buy a new one because it's bad luck."
And a coach for his four-man team called Straight Rippin'.
Coach: "I've got them on a workout plan, controlling their diet and sleep patterns."
Louis Aguirre: "Boy, how times have changed. This definitely is not like going to the arcade when we were kids. The MLG consists of a thousand gamers nationwide and the stakes couldn't be much higher."
Coach: "I don't have to tell someone it's a legitimate profession. Just look at the checks I made or T-Squared made."
But the guys don't have to master every game.
They only have to compete in a virtual combat world called Halo 2, travelling the country to play seven tournaments in seven months.
Tom: "I've been to New York City, LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta."
The league's turned on so many fans, the USA Network broadcasts its matches on Saturday mornings.
Stuff Magazine ranked T-Squared number one on its list of twenty trendsetters under 30.
Even the Wall Street Journal has gotten in on the act, writing an article about T-Squared and the popularity of pro-gaming.
It's just what MLG co-founder Sundance Digiovanni envisioned when he helped create the league almost four years ago.
Sundance Digiovanni: "We saw the potential when we saw what people were doing in their basements and hotels."
Still, they believe there's plenty more potential for the MLG to become like another pro league -- the NFL.
Sundance Digiovanni: "I want to play on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights."
And for players like T-Squared to become household names.
Coach: "He's pretty much the team leader. He's the guy everyone's looking to when big things need to happen."
But if big things don't happen, T-Squared does have a backup plan.
He runs a website where he tutors amateurs for a mere $115 an hour.
As he's learned from playing, you never know when you're time will end.
Coach: "I know I can't do it for the rest of my life, but I want to do it until the passion burns out."
Or at least until somebody touches his controller.
In case you were wondering, the MLG National Championship was this past weekend.
T-Squared and Straight Rippin' placed third.
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