Look out MLB, there’s a new sheriff in town. Their calling it the MLG, Major League Gaming, and it’s the latest development in the video game craze that’s devouring entire generations at a time. Now before you write this off as a ludicrous, teenager fad consider the massive fan base, the regularly scheduled traveling tournaments, the individual sponsorship of teams by large, and popular companies such as Red Bull and Dr. Pepper, it’s ESPN sponsored for Pete’s sake. The MLG is proving to be far from a joke in the sports world, the grand prize for the national championship is $100,000, not exactly chump change when you’re talking about video games.
Possibly some of you are thinking, ‘Why would ESPN, stronghold of all things manly and athletic, sponsor an association that plays video games?’ It’s all in the marketing. Hundreds of thousands of people play video games, that’s simply too big of a pie for large companies like ESPN to not get a piece of. Even before the MLG corporations have been noticing and capitalizing on the video game industry, now worth over $18 billion, through in-game sponsorship. Believe it or not some sports games try to be so real they actually include commercials, and what better place to put an ad for your company? The MLG has shown an innate ability to reach its audience, with contests ranging in everything from Halo, to sport games, to the ever popular World of Warcraft it’s not hard for fans to relate to pros that are playing the same games they are. "The MLG is popular because kids can see professionals playing their favorite games and making money doing it. Also it helps me learn new techniques and tactics to enhance my game" said local teen and MLG fan Tim Sheehan.
While the broadcasting of MLG tournaments is still done primarily on-line, where it can be viewed via live feed at mlgpro.com, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the annual MLG Pro Circuit competing center stage on national sports networks as the MLG’s popularity has been steadily rising since its conception in 2002. With the popularity of video games not showing signs of waning anytime soon, the MLG promises to get only bigger and more popular. For those of you who would like a more intimate understanding of the inner workings of the MLG I urge you check out the web site and even more so to drop in on the next stop on the 2008 Pro Circuit, which is in Orlando and will be broadcast on the MLG web site July 11-13.