Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Gamers duke it out for World Cyber Games

Vishnu K. Mahmud, Contributor, Jakarta,

Gamers nationwide are steeling themselves for combat. The World Cyber Games (WCG) competition season has just begun and a long list of elite Indonesian gamers have lined up to do battle.

At stake, an all expenses paid berth at the WCG Finals in Korea and the chance to represent Indonesia. It is the ultimate opportunity to be ranked in the global domain of PC gaming by competing against the world's best.

Gaming as a competitive sport?

Judging by the large numbers who signed up to play in the first qualifying sessions of the Indonesian preliminaries last Saturday, many consider it to be an activity that requires constant training. After last year's Indonesian Counter-Strike team got clobbered by teams from Singapore, Spain, the Czech Republic and Portugal in the 2002 WCG, local gamers researched new tactics and strategies in order to beat their competition.

This year, Indonesian Gamer ( and Samsung ( are again preparing to send representatives of Indonesia to Seoul. Lead by former gamer Eddie Lim (aka Samxz), Indonesian Gamer (IG) is organizing a multi city cyber battle-fest to find the best of the best in the nation.

Eddie is enthusiastic about sending another team to Korea as the IG community has learned a lot from last year.

"Watching how people play in person instead of just watching the recorded video is very different," he said. "Last year we learned how to play Counter-Strike as a team as it should be."

It can be said that the level of play in each country is different. Singapore is said to have the best gamers in the region while South Korea, thanks to the popularity of the PC- Baang (as game centers are known there) is slowly edging out the U.S. for gaming supremacy.

IG is sending representatives for only three games: Counter- Strike, StarCraft and Warcraft 3. The WCG also has competition for the Unreal Tournament 2003, Fifa Soccer 2003, and Age of Mythology games, but only champions from a national tournament sanctioned by the WCG can enter.

For the national preliminaries, local game centers determine (usually via competition) representatives to send to the IG Tournament. After months of round robin play, the national finals will take place in September, with the champions bundled off to Korea.

Most of the preliminary tournaments will take place at local game centers, following stringent WCG regulations to ensure fair play. Thus teams could be playing at home and away.

There are of course concerns about games and violence, especially after a spate of shootings in the U.S. that imitated movies such as The Matrix. However, after observing the Indonesian gaming community for four years, there have been few negative consequences of gaming and even these minimal (such as bad grades in school). The kinship of Indonesian gamers is strong as most will still help out others while blasting away at their cyber enemies.

Finding a balance between school and games should always be an issue. But just because students are not playing games doesn't mean they will not find another activity to disrupt their schoolwork. Besides, recent studies found that gamers have heightened visual coordination skills, allowing them to track more then one object at a time. These skills are ideal for police work, flying aircraft ... or shooting zombies before they reach innocent bystanders!

As one gamer put it, "you must find a balance between playing and work, because the game shouldn't rule you, you should rule the game!"

So why are people interested in signing up for a cyber battle tournament? Every gamer worth their salt knows the famous names of the gaming world such as Fatality, Wombat, Immortal and Thresh. These are some of the gaming gods of yesteryear who not only won tournaments, but signed lucrative sponsorship contracts to play games for a living, which is every gamer's dream.

But for Indonesians, this chance might take some time.

"One of the best teams in Indonesia right now earns about Rp 10-15 million annually per person from prize money or sponsorships," Eddie Lim says. "Indonesian gamers are considered to be semi-professional players, but they can earn money too if they are good."

Things can only get better if they win the WCG.

For more information about the World Cyber Games, check out Tournament schedules can be found on the IG website.