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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June 2005, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Teenage angst of top PC gamer
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website

Fatal1ty at the recent E3 games expo in Los Angeles
Fatal1ty played against visitors to the recent E3 games expo
A weekend in 1994 changed the life of the world's top PC gamer forever.

When Johnathan Wendel was 13 years old, his mother scuppered his ambition of becoming a top pool player.

She had stopped him from taking part in the qualifying rounds for a US national competition.

"My parents had divorced a year earlier and it was my mum's weekend so I couldn't go," said Johnathan, who is better known under his gaming alias, Fatal1ty.

The frustration he felt after training hard with his manager led to a steely determination in Johnathan to stop this happening again.

Taking a gamble

Fast-forward to five years later, and a young man who had been playing video games from the age of five.

Johnathan recalls how he heard about people who played video games professionally, winning local tournaments for big cash prizes.

"I wanted to see how good I was," he told the BBC News website. "I wanted to have my one shot at doing something and succeeding."

Fatal1ty at the recent E3 games expo in Los Angeles
This is definitely a unique lifestyle. You get to travel the world playing video games. I'm sure everyone is dying to live my life and play games for a living
Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel
By now he was living with his father, who was concerned about where his son was heading.

"He wanted me to get a job or go to school full-time because I was going to college part time, working part time and gaming full-time," says Johnathan.

"I told him, 'let me go to this one tournament and if I can make any amount of significant money I'm going to keep on doing it. If not, I'll go to college full time'."

His father agreed and Johnathan went on to win third place in the tournament and bag a pot of $4,000.

From that point on, there was no turning back.

"Ever since then I've been travelling the world, playing games and winning tons of money," says Johnathan.

He has earned a fan base around the globe, winning six Cyberathlete Professional League championships, the only gamer ever to do so.

He is Doom 3's first ever world champion, according to the Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game and Pinball Book of World Records, the industry's official record book.

Johnathan has even become a brand. In January he reached a deal with Creative Labs to design gaming peripherals and accessories to be sold under the Fatal1ty name.

Cool, awesome

Talking about his achievements, Johnathan is fired up, rattling out what gaming means to him and how it can enrich life.

Fatal1ty with fans at the recent E3 games expo in Los Angeles
Fans queued up at E3 to have their photo taken with Fatal1ty
The words cool and awesome fly about as his enthusiasm boils over.

It is a sign of the how gaming coloured his upbringing his turbulent teenage years.

"Dealing with all the hassles of going to school, dealing with parents and dealing with working part time as a dishwasher, gaming was a great stress relief," he says.

"I used it as an escape from the real world. I used it to get away from my parents, to get away from school, from work and be in my own little world."

But Johnathan does not fit the stereotypical image of the gamer as an anti-social loner in his bedroom.

During his teens, he was a keen athlete, playing American football, baseball, hockey and tennis.

"Being a well-rounded person growing up is very important," he says.

As to the future, Johnathan is optimistic he can stay on top of his game in the increasingly competition world of pro-gamers.

"I'm still pretty young. I have a long way to go," he says. "I'm only 24 years old."

"This is definitely a unique lifestyle. You get to travel the world playing video games. I'm sure everyone is dying to live my life and play games for a living."

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