I had forgotten about Fatal1ty after his initial press onslaught a while back in November last year. He’s the successful professional gamer that won the Cyberathlete Professional League World Tour (athlete?) last year and was profiled by 60 Minutes, of all people. Anyway, this Gizmodo post showing off (and making fun of) the Fatal1ty keyboard reminded me of his existence.
Now, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m poo-pooing the idea of professional gamers — we should be so lucky to be able to get paid for doing something we love to do — but I have to ask, why would anyone buy Fatal1ty merchandise? Is anyone such a big fan of this gamer that they would buy a Fatal1ty motherboard? Fatal1ty clothing? Really?
I guess I’m just having a hard time imagining a gamer as iconic. We celebrate sports stars because what they are able to do on the field or court is something most of us will never be able to do. I’ll never be able to play in the NBA no matter how much I practice, I’m just too short (and too old for that matter). And even if I did make it to a professional level sport, it’s still pretty unlikely that I’m going to be able to drive a lane like Jordan, drive a ball like Tiger Woods, or throw a ball like Peyton Manning. Those guys are larger than life, and very few people will ever rise to their level.
But with games, I feel we all can achieve a level of greatness if we just spent some time with the games we liked. It doesn’t matter how old we are, how tall we are, or how much in shape we are in, we can all be pretty good at a game. Which kind of makes Fatal1ty’s achievements not all that interesting.
Now, I’m not saying me or anyone else can go right now and whup his ass in a one-on-one deathmatch (especially since I don’t even play PC games). I’m just having a hard time thinking he’s something special when in the back of my mind I’m also thinking I could beat him down in Guitar Hero. That may or may not be true, but it’s in the realm of possibility and as long as a regular guy like me thinks like this, I doubt Fatal1ty or any other professional cyberathlete (snicker) will ever become an icon.