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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Champion's Olympic gaming call
Click Online caught up with the man who is currently the world champion in computer gaming, Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, who explained why he believes gaming has many similarities to being an athlete.

Jonathan Wendel
Jonathan Wendel has been a professional gamer for five years
In gaming, seconds can seem like years.

Lightning reactions and a cool head are needed to handle the pressure of taking on all comers.

In the past few years an explosion of online gaming has meant that we can all now take on anyone who thinks they are hard enough.

And Johnathan Wendel, known by the gaming community as Fatal1ty, is doing just that.

Being the world gaming champion in several game titles, "fatal" usually refers to his opposition.

Now aged 24, he has never needed a proper job.

He says: "I have been making a living playing video games for the last five years.

"I believe I've raked in a little over $300,000 (164,456) in five years just from tournaments.

"From sponsors and so on, add on a couple more hundred thousand or so.

"It's been a pretty amazing lifestyle. I've travelled all over the world, from Asia to Europe to America."

Athletic advantage

Johnathan compares playing video games to playing sports. And it is not just about quick reflexes.

"You have to be smart. You can't just run around doing whatever you want. You have to plan things.

"Like in tennis - or any sport - you have to plan out the attack.

Any athlete can easily transfer to these kinds of games and play at the highest level
Fatal1ty
"You can't just go out there and kick the ball in the goal, or hit the ball over the net, and expect to win.

"You have to set up the point. You have to set up before the kill.

"Any athlete who plays sport and knows how to win at the highest level can easily transfer to these kinds of games and play at the highest level.

"They automatically have an advantage over a gamer who just sits there and plays around for fun.

And his analogy doesn't stop there. Fatal1ty wants gaming to become an Olympic sport.

At the highest level, gamers already compete in large indoor stadiums, and this world champion believes it is the perfect spectator sport.

"When you go to a sporting venue you have two huge screens, one of my point of view - what I see when I'm playing - and one of my opponent's.

"So the whole crowd is watching both aspects, and they understand who has control, who's on offence, who's on defence, because they play the game."

Realism

While actual game play has not changed much over the last few years, he says both graphics and sound have made big strides.

"EAX is one of the technologies being used so you can actually hear vibration off walls, the echoes and all the different sounds.

"So it's very exciting to be in the game now. Finally the game allows you to be in the game, rather than thinking: 'Ok, I'm playing a game and I hear these weird sounds'. The sounds are real now."

I don't really see where the whole violence thing comes in
Fatal1ty
So with games becoming ever more realistic, what does he say to those worried about the level of violence in gaming?

"I think if you have a very good foundation of a Dad and a Mum - or anything - just however you grow up, as long as you're well rounded, you'll make very common-sense decisions and just live normal.

"I think most guys who play video games are pretty cool guys. We travel all around the world and have met tons of gamers. They're all pretty hyped and excited like me and are having a ton of fun.

"I don't really see where the whole violence thing comes in."

Balanced lifestyle

Another concern is an increase in obesity, especially among children in Western countries.

Parents are worried endless hours spent on consoles could turn their children into couch potatoes.

Everyone has to take one risk in their life - a big risk
Fatal1ty
But for Johnathan, becoming a champion did not involve staring at a screen all day.

"A balanced lifestyle is definitely necessary. I grew up with a very balanced lifestyle, playing a lot of sports outside, working my butt off - I had three jobs at once at one time - and also I gamed as much as I could.

"One of my key aspects was that you have to do activities, you have to do sports, or something outside and competitive, instead of just gaming, because you need to be well rounded.

"I think being a well rounded individual, having an education, being an athlete, or doing any kind of activity - even debate or other activities at school - is very healthy for your game if you want to become a better gamer.

"I didn't get here without taking a risk. I risked it all, and luckily I came out on top and I'm very fortunate for that.

"Everyone has to take one risk in their life - a big risk - and after that you have to go with the flow and live a steady life. You have to try to go for it.

"If I didn't make it, I was going to go straight to work full time or straight to school full time.

"But luckily I came out on top so it all worked out."


Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 2030, Sunday at 0430 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. A short version is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0645 and BBC One: Sunday at 0730 . Also BBC World.



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