Gamecaster's Way Of Watching

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There's no doubt about it, professional video gaming is taking on a whole new level. More recognizable cyber athletes such as Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel are emerging, and gaming tournaments are on the increase across the nation. But there's a lot of debate over whether "gaming" should be classified as a sport.

But one thing is for sure: The billon-dollar video gaming industry is not what it was a few years ago. Large video-game gatherings or venues host young gamers from around the country, all competing to be called the ultimate gamer.

It only makes sense to begin to Webcast or even televise these tournaments. Fans of video games might be interested in watching a televised version of a gaming tournament - and that's where a new company called Gamecaster comes in. Gamecaster, a San Diego-based company, has released patent pending technology that is designed to revolutionize the way viewers watch a gaming tournament.

GameCore got a chance to see this new technology in action. Gamecaster founder, president and CEO David Macintosh says he wants to bring a broader audience and increased interest to professional gaming tournaments.

Gamecaster has a system in place in which crewmembers and cameramen can set up and broadcast not only an event but also the action "within" an actual video game. This represents a huge advance for the viewing of a televised gaming tournament. Using Gamecaster technology, the cameramen and crew are able to act as an actual cameraman inside the videogame.

Although there are a lot of technical components to the system, one key ingredient is the Gamecaster Cybercam S2. Essentially, the Cybercam S2 looks and feels like an ordinary broadcast camera. But what the cameraman is filming is the action inside the game from a number of angles: Imagine watching NBA Live '06 on TV from any angle while gamers are playing the game. The Cybercam S2 can zoom in or out from any angle, close to or far away from the action. It's as if a professional camera crew is in the game.

The ability to broadcast from within the game completely changes the way people view videogame competitions. Gone are the days of over-the-shoulder or gamer-only camera shots. Any team of cameramen with the assistance of a Show Director hidden backstage can give a video-game competition the look and feel of the Olympics.

In fact, the people who operate the specially designed Cybercam S2 are cameramen who have covered major sporting events such as the Olympics, basketball, baseball, and NCAA tournament games. Although in theory any cameraman can operate the Cybercam S2, some special training is required and a lot of pre-production rehearsals are needed. Anywhere from one to eight cameramen are used, depending on the game and the size of the event.

Gamecaster has already covered events at previous gaming venues on the West Coast in which a Field of Play arena was setup and a live audience was able to view the gaming action on two Jumbotron-sized TV's. All of the equipment is completely mobile, so a venue can be set up anywhere in the world. Gamecaster officials say the Cybercam S2 can be used on virtually any gaming console and PC, and with any game.

Gamecaster has worked with titles such as Tribes, and the technology has also been tested on the Madden football games for the PC. Gamecaster says very few modifications have to be made to the actual gaming title; only a slight game modification by game developers is necessary.

This technology is only the beginning of a new wave of coverage on eSports. The Gamecaster technology has lots of other potential non-gaming tournament uses - such as video-game testing or military training. The technology is not limited to gaming competitions; online battles can also be captured, with gamers playing from an online connection.

Any broadcaster would be crazy not to pick up on this new technology, as it would only increase the audience of videogame competitions in the already huge videogame market. Who knows, maybe some day we might all be watching a new TV series using the Gamecaster technology.