Monday, June 30 2014, 08:22 AM EDT
Professional "Gamers" In Chattanooga This Weekend
Intense emotions. Commentators. Cash prizes.
No, we're not at a regular sporting competition. We're at Iron Games Season One Chattanooga, and all of the contests take place on a screen.
"This is an actual sport. You don't see a lot of the traditional gamer stereotypes," says Iron Gaming President, Aaron Welch. "The fat kids who just sit around and eat Cheetos and play in their bedrooms."
The event, happening at the Convention Center, is actually a practice round for next weekend in Austin, Texas.
"This weekend, we have 2,500 people out to play and participate in various games. Next weekend is 40,000 people."
The level of gaming varies. For many of them, it's a hobby. For some, it's a career. Many of the professional gamers have made a living by excelling at their game of choice.
"With Curse, we're really branched out across the world actually," says Matthew Potthoff. "I probably play Call of Duty about 6 hours a day, 4 hours a week."
But for Potthoff... competing is about more than bragging rights. Professionals aim to change how the world sees gamers by lifting weights and paying attention to appearances.
"We're trying to set a standard to show gamers can be healthy. And it also attracts sponsorships as well."
The event host, Iron Gaming, uses events like this to help participants accumulate points and earn higher rankings. And like the gamers themselves, the organization wants to show gaming is about MORE than what's on the screen.
"It looks like you're just twitching your thumbs but there's a whole lot of thought process and skill and ability that goes in, not only mentally but physically, to be able to play at skill level these guys are playing at," says Welch.
By: Kelsey Bagwell