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"Half-Life" tourney blasts off

Online gaming company Viasta is hoping enough gamers have plenty of time to devote to the shooting game "Half-Life," as the company stages a pay-for-play "Take Next Year Off" tournament over the next three months.

Players can compete as many times as they want, as long as they can pony up the $2 entry fee. The top scorer when the tournament closes Dec. 31 will claim a grand prize of $500 to $50,000, depending on how many players enter. New York-based Viasta is trying to popularize computer games as a spectator sport, with big cash payouts and spectator simulcasts of top matches.