Whether or not you're into it personally, there's little denying that eSports is a fast-growing, exciting part of modern gaming -- and a potentially lucrative one for those who can rise to the upper echelons.
Getting into eSports, whether as a participant or a spectator, can be a daunting prospect, though. In the latter case, our own Cassandra has you covered with this handy bluffers' guide to Dota 2, but in the former case, where to begin?
Well, as cliché as it might sound, Call of Duty is actually a great place to start. Call of Duty, particularly in its later incarnations, is built for eSports -- there's a variety of highly competitive game modes, many of which require teamwork; a huge and active community of players across several different platforms; and the online Elite service to help you track your performance and step up your game. While the more high-profile, lucrative eSports tend to come from the fighting game, MOBA and real-time strategy genres, Call of Duty is a great means of determining whether or not you have the discipline to try and make it as a virtual athlete, or whatever it is we're supposed to call eSports players -- and its "amateur-friendly" nature makes it a lot more accessible to the general public than some of the more complex titles out there.
Speaking of which, video game and consumer electronics chain Play N Trade is about to kick off an international (well, US and Canada) Call of Duty: Black Ops II tournament this coming Saturday: August 17. Following the initial local rounds of the competition, regional rounds will take place on August 24, with the international final on August 25. Registration is open, and the entry fee is just $10.
The tournament winner will receive $500 cash, a Skullcandy Plyr 1 wireless headset, a GamerModz custom controller, a copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts (when it releases), a case of NOS energy drink and a variety of ominous-sounding "performance snacks" from Gamer Grub. Second place, meanwhile, will receive $300 cash plus all the above non-monetary prizes; third and fourth place will receive $100 and all of the above products, too. It's no $1.4 million Dota 2 International prize, I know, but it's something, at least!
If you think you've got the Black Ops II skills to walk away with a prize, you can sign up for the tournament here -- note that anyone under the age of 18 wishing to participate must have a signed parental consent form due to Black Ops II's "M" rating.