If you thought watching professional poker on TV was the apex of quality entertainment, prepare to be blown away: the world’s leading organized video gaming league, Major League Gaming, is expected to announce a programming deal with cable’s USA Network to produce a seven-episode, limited run series centered on the professional video game circuit and its players.
According to reports, the one-hour episodes will emphasize the personalities of selected pro video gamers (including Bonnie Burton, who at 15 years of age is currently the only female in the pro league), offer sports-like color commentary during gaming bouts, and (naturally) act as extended commercials for selected games used in competitions, such as Microsoft’s Halo 2 and Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Although video game enthusiasts have been able to follow competitions via a legion of Web sites, the television show will mark the first time competitive video gaming attempts to enter mainstream entertainment. The American media market can be a fickle thing: for instance, soccer has never caught on with U.S. audiences, but NASCAR and (more recently) poker have successfully carved out niches in major broadcast venues.
USA Network is currently looking to begin airing episodes of the as-yet-untitled series in the third quarter of 2006.