Even before “The Wizard” enchanted and inspired the gaming generation, gamers have sought that final prize: making a living playing video games. Unfortunately, dreams of professional-gamerism have been shown to be as elusive as dreams of being a professional gambler. Luckily, startup BringIt is attempting to make both those dreams a little more attainable. BringIt made the connection between the huge online gambling market and the exploding online gaming community, and has created a site where gamers can challenge one another with cash on the barrelhead.
The guts for this system have been in place for a long time: ranking systems already set up gamers for matches based on skill; half the sites on the net already have an evaluation system for users, comments, or what have you; gambling sites already have systems in place for handling accounts and paying out securely. Someone just needed to stitch these services together and give it a name. Thus, BringIt.
Once registered for the site (free) you pay up a little into the account (they’ll match up to $20 for the beta) and go get your wager on, assuming you’re 18 or older. BringIt supports every major console out there along with PCs, although it seems it only works with one on one matches at the moment. That actually leaves out quite a lot of the gaming community — Counter-Strike, for instance, is a huge segment and very team-based. But there’s a healthy 1v1 community out there as well, and at any rate it makes the betting considerably simpler. You challenge someone, put up an agreed amount into escrow (anywhere from $1 to $100,000) and at the end the total is given over to the winner, minus the 10% fee you knew had to be in there somewhere. These being games of skill (and thus impervious to the legal restrictions on games of chance), some matches may be close or contested; a record of the events of each game is emailed to each player, however, and I can only assume that when things get hairy, a BringIt “ref” will be brought in to make the call.
Although it will add yet another facet to modern net-dwellers’ already too-fragmented online presences, BringIt is hoping to bring in metadata from other sources: your gamercard and Live! profile, for instance. Although there will be a shaky period as the information is tapped to make skill stratifications among the users, the sheer amount of data generated by the online gaming community — wins, losses, time played, maps played, heads shot, etc — should guarantee some degree of accuracy, assuming BringIt’s tools for analysis are up to the task.
As for the dangers of being sharked or cheated, they seem about the same as any pool hall — that is, if every pool hall had a comprehensive list of games won and lost and eBay-esque feedback about every player. Cheating is another issue; money brings out the best in the worst of us and vice versa, and doubtless there will be violations along the lines of modded controllers or consoles, computer-aided input and that sort of reprehensible but ingenious thing.
Whether it will catch on or not is difficult to predict, so fickle are the whims of suburban Halo prodigies. But I do imagine that the interface they’ve created will not be long-lived or well-used. A very simple in-game option to put a little money on a game, or one built into a meta-interface like Games for Windows Live or Steam, will certainly be preferred by any player. The framework of payment, rating, and so on will still be used, but it will be integrated into the games better. After all, who needs yet another online community to worry about?
BringIt has opened its doors to open beta and will be launching later this winter.