I have understood for awhile that video games are big business. I’ve understood for even longer that they’re a part of the culture — I’ve had kids wearing out their thumbs in the basement for two decades.
But two things occurred recently within a few days of each other that brought home to me just how deep the roots have grown.
First, The Mercury lost its sports reporter, Sean Collins, to a job at the Dallas Morning News. Nothing new there — we’re proud of our alums who go on to bigger things. Many have moved up the ranks in our industry; Sean is only the most recent. His predecessor, Justin Toscano, got a job covering the Mets for a paper in New Jersey, so jumping from the MHS North Gym straight to the bigs is not all that unusual.
But it’s what Sean’s new job entails that opened my eyes: He’s covering video gaming. Not as a business, necessarily, and not as a lifestyle. He’s covering it as a sport. That means he’s covering tournaments and teams just as he would cover, say, basketball.
Second, one of my kids — now a 22-year-old K-Stater — traveled to Overland Park with two of his Manhattan High cronies. Nothing new there — the kid’s been making that trek to play competitive soccer, tennis, basketball and baseball since he was 8. The day before, the guys went through some warm-up play to get ready. They’re good, I think.
The tournament this time? Super Smash Bros.
Right. A video game. There were several tournaments — for other video games — being held at the same time in the same place, the Overland Park Convention Center. Big place. Full of people.
They got knocked out of the tournament after a couple of rounds. Guess their thumbs weren’t quite strong enough.
So, yes, that means video games, in the matter of a few days, had directly invaded my profession and a major part of my life for 15 years — traveling sports.
Shoulda seen it coming, I suppose. This will seem a hilariously antiquated column in 25 years, when one of my offspring will be routinely making a two-hour drive with his own 5th-grade kids to a video game tournament, the results of which will be dutifully reported by journalists in one form or another.
But I never would have envisioned that until a few days ago.