You Can Now Medal in 'Call of Duty' at the Austin X Games

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You Can Now Medal in 'Call of Duty' at the Austin X Games
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Campers, noobs and general video game nerds, we have some tremendous news. Some lucky and elite Call of Duty: Ghosts players will be getting X Games medals this summer in Austin. 

ESPN's Ryan Garfat reports Monday that the hit video game will now have its own slice of the annual action sports event this June: 

In order to capitalize on a rapidly growing competitive league right in the heart of its demographic, X Games together with Major League Gaming announced Monday there will be a Call of Duty tournament as part of X Games Austin in June.

The "MLG Call of Duty: Ghosts" tournament will feature the top five Call of Duty teams based on MLG Pro Points, plus the top three teams from the Call of Duty championship held in Winter Park, Fla., last month. The eight teams will compete in a double-elimination group format, with four teams advancing to a single-elimination bracket. X Games medals will be awarded to the winning teams.

Suddenly our own personal list of life accolades looks far more impressive. Perhaps marathon sessions of first-person shooters can now be considered athletic endeavors. Hey, we can hope. 

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While peculiar, it certainly seems like a perfect marriage. The report reminds us that MLG's CEO, Sundance DiGiovanni, once served as the "video gaming expert on Cold Pizza."

For his part, DiGiovanni is hopeful that this is more than a one-off attempt to garner attention:

It's going to be [MLG] bringing our high-level production into a really full weekend. We're looking to build something here that hopefully becomes a tradition at both the summer and the winter X Games over time.

Tim Reed serves as the senior director of content strategy for the X Games and is just as optimistic that a video game event fits nicely into the entire Austin experience: 

As X Games looks to grow and launch into the festival event we're producing, this is great added content to the overall plan. I'm definitely excited to see how it translates [to X Games].

[...]

It made sense from X Games' perspective. The audiences are similar: youth, fun to play with, and they like music, sports and gaming. So it all kind of lines up with [the X Games] audience.

Polygon's Samit Sarkar notes that those not wanting to plunk down $89 for three-day access "can watch the MLG X Games Invitational livestream on the MLG website or the MLG.tv apps for Android, iOS and Xbox 360."

Garfat offers that this may indeed be an X Games mainstay, providing a video game outlet for one of the event's biggest demographic. 

Bringing gaming to the X Games was a good match for both Reed and DiGiovanni because people interested in professional gaming are likely to be fans of the X Games and other action sports as well, according to Reed. Couple that with the surging popularity of the new genre of eSports, and X Games has what it hopes will be a popular attraction inside the festival grounds at the Circuit of the Americas.

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Since its inception in 1995, the X Games has prided itself on being an alternative to mainstream sporting events, garnering such popularity that one can argue its collection of sports has piqued the interest of those well beyond its intended audience. 

The wonderful effect can be seen as recently as the Sochi Winter Olympics, which had several traditional X Games events on its roster. 

So it makes sense that the X Games would welcome MLG, hoping to carve out a new niche for video games amid the sports landscape—taking the underrepresented and making it highly visible is kind of its thing. 

This is just one event, but it certainly has the potential to yield some amazing results for MLG and the budding eSports market on whole. 

Feel free to fire up the Xbox, crack open the Doritos and prepare for a marathon session of Call of Duty. If anyone proclaims you are wasting time, flip the script and demand that you are in training for the X Games. 

 

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