Is it cool to be a top gamer?

27 Jan 2011


Standing in your living room with your arms aloft, how cool did you feel when you captured the flag on Call of Duty: Black Ops and beat your mates on Xbox 360 yet again?

Prince William has some way to go before his Wii bowling skills eclipse those of 85-year-old John Bates

Gaming is now officially trendy. It’s the territory of the technologically savvy man who knows his strategy games and has ice running through his veins when he meets an opponent, or has the hand-eye co-ordination to pick him off with a sniper without a moment’s pause.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Fifa 11 on Xbox 360 or LittleBigPlanet2 on PS3, ruling the roost on a console is a great feeling achieved by only the best (who are the coolest, naturally).

Top gamers are truly revered in the US and the Far East, where televised tournaments are played out by professionals for big-money prizes. These guys are deadly serious and spend more than 12 hours a day fine tuning their strategies and working in teams.

The most successful even write their own blogs and make appearances at sponsors’ days and on television – they’re essentially celebrities. Think David Beckham, but with more developed thumbs…

Which is why when Guinness World Records 2011: Gamer’s Edition was published it was a bit of a surprise not to find a slick 24-year-old alpha male at the top of the Nintendo Wii bowling tree. Perhaps it was a Wii-obsessed geek instead?

Nah… It was an 85-year-old regular churchgoer from Wisconsin in the US who has racked up a record 2,850 perfect scores of 300.

John Bates has hardly dedicated his life to it either. It took him a year before he bowled his first perfect game in 2009 and since then he’s never played more than 21 games in a day.

If a pensioner who doesn’t appear to take gaming too seriously can become a top performer, is it natural talent, practice or just luck?

Scientists from the University of Illinois reckon they can predict a person’s gaming ability “with unprecedented accuracy” by using a new brain imaging technique.

That would mean that good gamers are born with the talent, rather than developing it. Although the researchers did add that elements of the brain structure and function are changeable, so keep plugging away at Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and you may still get there…

It all sounds a little bit too scientific and complicated to be cool, maybe joining the top echelon of gamers is not as impressive as on first glance.

Playing for hours on the Xbox 360 is a great way to spend an evening, especially if you can get one over your mates in the process. But 12 hours a day, tied to playing one game which you simply have to be the best at? Didn’t your mother warn you about square eyes?

Being a great gamer can definitely be cool, but like bed-hair and ripped jeans are fashionable, maybe it’s best to give the impression that you don’t try too hard…

Oh, have I just knocked a second off your lap time on Forza Motorsport 3? I never even knew that track was on the game.

Nobody ever needs to know about the long nights spent trying to find the perfect braking point. It can remain our secret.

Is it cool to be a top gamer, or have hard-working professional gamers and highly-skilled American pensioners shattered the illusion? Comment below…