SteelSeries, the professsional gamer-oriented hardware makers, have been biding their time lately, but their marketing VP Kim Ron took an hour out of his day to talk to CG about what they’re planning, their philosophy, and all that good stuff. One thing we discussed was how in the recession economy, support for things like gaming tournaments and professional gamer teams is dropping: their natural habitat, the LAN party, is shrinking as the great funding springs dry up.
SteelSeries can’t stand to see this majestic species of gamer die out (especially considering they’re their target demographic) so they’re doing their part: buy one of their (sweet) mousepads branded with major team graphics, and a portion of your purchase will go to restoring and preserving the once-mighty herds of pro gamers. They’re not quite available yet, but we’ll keep an eye out and update when they are.
The mousepads (or gaming mats, as I believe they’re called properly) are a bit big for me… well, I won’t lie, they’re enormous. But some people like that, and they’re so beautifully printed that you could mount them on the wall. The Meet Your Makers one (above) in particular is striking colorwise and very detailed. Maybe I’ll get one and scissor it down to size. I’ll have a few to give away soon so you’ll see for yourself.
Kim, an avid gamer himself (and old school like me, we agree that the first Tribes is one of the greatest games of all time), has really shown his dedication to the pro gamer world with all the sponsorships and events dedicated to that purpose. Many in the US still scoff at pro gaming, or are only exposed to fatuous peacocks like Fatal1ty and other proto-celebrities, but elsewhere in the world — Europe and East Asia primarily — pro gaming is not only serious sport, but serious business. The enormous success and widespread coverage of pro Starcraft in South Korea is one important data point for seeing just how big this stuff can be. With gaming increasing in stature next to other media (and somewhat recession-resistant), it’s practically inevitable that this stuff will blow up, and serious money going into advertising in online games or game services and sites like BringIt and UGame.
I’m sure the guys in the teams SteelSeries are sponsoring will be glad for the boost, but we’re nearing a watershed point in US gaming history where games will become truly mainstream pop culture; as it is, they’re sort of a major but parallel culture, still talked around in polite conversation as if it didn’t exist except in ads — like impotence (not that us virile bloggers know anything about it, of course). Hopefully soon that taboo will be lifted, and pro gamers will flourish again.
SteelSeries also mentioned a few interesting little hardware tidbits that are coming our way soon, but it’s all very secret and I don’t want to spoil their fun. Rest assured CG will have that stuff as soon as it hits the street — or maybe a tiny bit before.