Don’t bet on the races

For years, multiplayer first-person-shooter games have been evolving into a type of spectator sport. At massive LAN parties or sponsored competitions, there’ll be more people gathered around to watch the game-play than actual players. Over in Korea, online games are televised nationally, which makes perfect sense to me. They’re ripe for broadcast, since a news organization could put virtual cameras anywhere they wanted on the map, and/or trail behind a player’s shoulder, or peer out their eyes as they play! I’d far rather watch that than most pro sports, quite frankly.

But I digress. The point of this posting is to note an interesting new evolution of gaming-as-sport.

A new company called YouPlayGames is setting up a service that lets you bet on the outcome of a deathmatch. As the Associated Press reports:

The cost of entry generally will range from a few cents to a few dollars for each kill or injury players incur on their opponents, YouPlayGames creator Chris Grove said Tuesday.

No money limits have been set, but that could change, Grove said.

Another feature will let gamers cap how much money they can lose in 24 hours.

“If two players want to play a game for $100 a life, then we’ll open up a server for that,” he said.

Grove said prizes eventually will include games, vacations and money.

Neat — though hardly the classiest operation. As the story notes, “YouPlayGames is headquartered on the Caribbean island of Curacoa in the Netherlands Antilles, just off the coast of Venezuela,” offshore havens where greasy online gambling operations set up shop to avoid prosecution under North American anti-gambling laws.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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