Gaming's star prizes

Gaming's star prizes

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Video games have rarely been seen as a route to fame or fortune. But big money prizes and celebrity status are now on offer to masters of the console, writes Barry C Chung

Whoever said you could never amount to anything if you spent your life playing video games, clearly never met Wade McGilberry.

Three months ago, videogame manufacturer 2K Sports threw down a challenge to the gaming world: the first player to pitch a perfect game, a no-hitter, in MLB 2K10 would collect a prize of US$1 million.

Contestants were required to record the entire process on video, in order to guarantee the authenticity of their achievement and eliminate cheats.

On the very day the contest was launched, McGilberry, a 24-year-old tax accountant from the US, accomplished the feat, using Atlanta Braves' pitcher Kenshin Kawakami to pitch the perfect game against the New York Mets. Reports claimed that it took him only 90 minutes and less than seven attempts to scoop the huge cash jackpot.

When Simcity 3000 was released in 1999, few thought the city-building simulation could ever be mastered. Many gamers had heard of the 6 million resident limit, but most believed that number could never be achieved - especially not by a mere casual gamer.

That was until 22-year-old Vincent Ocasla came along. An architecture student from the Philippines, Ocasla used the game as 'a tool or medium for artistic self-expression'.

Using his skill in designing real buildings he created a city named Magnasanti.

The completed city took more than four years to complete, with the planning and experimenting phases alone taking 18 months.

In the end, Magnasanti is nothing short of remarkable. Ocasla developed a city with 'a near optimum population density'.

The goal of Tetris is simple: create horizontal lines across the playing field without leaving any gaps. The more lines created, and automatically cleared, the more points you score.

It sounds simple enough, but as you all know, once the falling blocks - called tetrominoes - start dropping at an increasingly rapid rate, all hell breaks loose.

A number of YouTube videos have been posted by gamers purporting to be the Gods and Goddesses of Tetris. Some are real contenders for the title, but most are just pretenders hoping to make a name for themselves on the Net - although, most of their achievements are still admirable.

But while speed in clearing lines is often considered to be the best guide to judging Tetris supremacy, other gamers have taken on an even tougher challenge.

One of the most mind-boggling feats of skill can be seen in a video posted on YouTube by a netizen called Spectre255. He or she played the perfect game of Tetris, clearing all the lines using only Tetrises. In other words, Spectre255 only cleared lines in groups of four - no singles, doubles or even triples.

The feat is even more phenomenal when one considers the increased difficulty in making tetrises: a tetris can only be achieved by piling up blocks while waiting for the 'I' tetrino to fall, before inserting it in the slot.

So, kids, strap on your best gaming cap and start mashing those buttons - fame may just be a Tetris line away.

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