Broadband Innovations, Part 1: The 21st Century Athlete

Artwork: Chip Taylor
"Broadband Innovations" is a four-part series that highlights groundbreaking broadband uses, and the people who employ the technology to preserve the past, reshape the future, and fulfill their dreams. One of those people is gamer Patrick O'Day of San Francisco.

Patrick O'Day, 20, sits on his mattress on the floor in the corner of his living room in South San Francisco, staring up at a screen.

His headset squawks and his head bobs as he ducks and weaves through the virtual world of his video game. He looks like your average skinny, sun-deprived college junior. But don't disturb him, his girlfriend says from across the room. He's in training.

Gamer Patrick O'Day, in his training center.
O'Day is one of thousands of gamers from around the world competing to represent their country in the 2008 Digital Games. And making the tournament possible is broadband.

In China, video gaming is an official sport. This year, for the first time in history, it will be an official affiliated event of the Olympic Games. Though the live four-day Digital Games tournament will take place in Beijing, China, in mid-October, the preliminary qualifications started online on June 11 and will finish on July 27.

"This will be the largest online video tournament yet," says Ted Owen, chairman and CEO of GGL Global Gaming, the largest social networking group for gamers worldwide, and the official partner of the Chinese government in making the event happen.

Digital Games 2008

The tournament will use the most popular platforms--PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360--and the competitions will involve a full spectrum of games ranging from sports titles like NBA Live 08 and the TrackMania racing games to first-person shooters and real-time strategy games such as Counter-Strike 1.6 and Command & Conquer 3.

O'Day's specialty is first-person shooter games such as Halo 3. Being a full-time professional player is his dream, but although he recently won an online Soldier of Fortune competition--which earned him $1000 and a free trip to New York for the finals--O'Day is not able to support himself by playing video games just yet.

He works as a parking-lot attendant in San Francisco but at the end of every day he heads straight home to his Xbox 360 to practice. He may not look the part of the typical competitive athlete, but his training regimen requires much of the same dedication and personal sacrifice as that of his more physical counterparts.

The Rest of the Series

  • Part 2: "Fiber Optics Reaches the Tipi" A Canadian aboriginal community uses broadband to save its native language and culture from extinction.
  • Part 3: "The Film Editor's Dream" A well-known Swedish film editor fulfills his dream of working remotely while living in a rural area, thanks to a superfast fiber-optic broadband connection.
  • Part 4: "The Doctor Isn't In But Can See You" In the final installment, learn how some Americans use broadband to get quality healthcare remotely.

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