Championship Gaming Series to open training center in China

Young video game league thinks it can build big interest in its sport by training new players at a facility that can also seat more than 1,000 people for matches.

As I reported here a few weeks ago, professional video gaming leagues and organizations are hoping that, over time, their industry can be seen as a sport on par with soccer, baseball, football, and so on.

The Championship Gaming Series says it will open a training center in Wuhan, China. Championship Gaming Series

Now, one of those leagues, the Championship Gaming Series, has decided to up the ante by creating a training facility and a dedicated game playing arena in the booming Chinese city of Wuhan.

I talked to Andy Reif, commissioner of the CGS, the other day, and he explained that the idea behind building the training center is essentially that you can't build a new sport without also having what amounts to an incubator for talent.

That's why the league is setting up its facility in Wuhan, a city that Reif told me has more than 50 universities and more than 1.5 million students. Truly.

The training center itself will be structured around bringing in potential players and testing them and training them on skills needed to compete at the highest levels of the nascent sport.

Really, that means looking for and developing players' hand-eye coordination, as well as training players on the games themselves.

In addition, the league is building a 1,000-seat arena that will be used exclusively for matches.

The CGS got started with an inaugural player draft at the Playboy Mansion in June 2007, and it did its second draft at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, earlier this month.

The Championship Gaming Series conducted its inaugural player draft at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles on June 12, 2007. Daniel Terdiman/CNET News.com

And while the league has managed to pull off some high-profile events and has some big money behind it--Microsoft, DirecTV, and others--I'm a little skeptical of the idea of building an arena and a training center.

On the one hand, it's probably not that expensive to pursue such a venture in China, and it's a good place to look for new talent, given the high degree of interest in that country in video games.

On the other hand, I kind of think video gamers are the types of people who are self-taught and might not respond well to the kind of indoctrination of a training center.

For its part, Wuhan seems like it must be an interesting place these days. Not only is it the CGS' choice for setting up shop, it's also where Second Life land baroness Anshe Chung has set up headquarters for her growing business. Among other things, Chung is using her facilities to train people to create content for Second Life and other virtual worlds.

Disclaimer: My wife works for Second Life publisher Linden Lab.

 

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