"Watch out for that sniper in the tower."
"Stay back! Stay back!"
As you've noticed, there's no report from me on the second round of the NSWCA State Championships last Sunday. This is because I found myself, instead, in the middle of a war. A pretend one. I was at the 2007 World Cyber Games Australian final held at Sydney's Luna Park. It was my first time. Saw a report about the event in the 6 o'clock news and I thought, hec, why not try something new.
The exchange above between teenagers screaming orders at one another was typical of what happened during the final showdown of "Gears of War". Those boys were deadly serious. They had to be. Whoever won that 4-on-4 team combat would proceed to represent Australia at the World Cyber Games Grand Final in Seattle later this year. Not even a couple of gorgeous promo chicas in skin-tight outfits could disturb them. I particularly liked the two in short shorts who looked more at home in Sexpo. And Australia's representative to the last Miss Universe, Erin Mcnaught, hardly had a lascivious eye cast her way. Well, except from me! (Erin was there for Cybershack).
So there I was in a whole new world. It was all alien to me as, I'm sure, I was to them. But it was fun, adrenaline rushing all round, full of excitement and the familiar drama of victory and defeat. Those who lost looked as if they were just about ready to rush up the Harbour Bridge, a short walk outside, and jump off. While those who won could hardly contain themselves. And if you're into some serious PC hardware for gaming, then the Cyber Games are a must. Finally - to complete the picture, they also had a rap artist and some big wig from Samsung (the major sponsor) attending the event.
Anyway, I mention all this because as I was walking around the hall I couldn't help thinking: chess hasn't got a bloody chance!
We talk a lot these days about these thousands of chessers in the junior ranks. But, honestly, how many graduate to the senior ranks before they get snagged by other distractions, certainly more lucratives ones, like poker and video gaming? Before last Sunday I had no idea about the concept of a pro gamer. Those guys get sponsorships and earn plenty of money. Plus they still pick up those essential life skills along the way - like communication, strategic thinking, analytic and so on.
If you're a parent, let's be real here. Wouldn't you steer your kid to gaming and away from chess? Put it this way: there's no dough in chess, no glam, and no chicas! That's it.