TOP PRO VIDEO GAMER IS NO COUCH POTATO: PHYSICAL FITNESS IS KEY SAYS JOHNATHAN "FATAL1TY" WENDEL, WHO HAS WON OVER $450,000 IN PRIZE MONEY -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Next Step for the "Cyber Athlete" is Earning Millions on Products
The world's best video game player practices for hours to hone the skills that have earned him over $450,000 in prize money. But being the best is also a matter of being the fittest, says Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, who credits exercise with being an integral part of his training. Wendel speaks to Steve Kroft for a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 22 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Fitness makes for a sharper brain and hand says the 24-year-old "gamer." "I work out a lot," says Wendel. "Being physically fit and making sure your neuro-transmitters are working properly�making sure you're on�beat and you're ready to go," he tells Kroft. "It's like your neuro-fittness�it's basically ways you can think faster," says Wendel.
"[Playing videogames] is that fast and the game is all about hand-eye coordination, reflexes, timing, strategy�being able to think fast�.You've got to be doing everything," he tells Kroft. Wendel still plays tennis, the sport he starred in for his high school and runs regularly, in addition to playing video games sometimes more than eight to ten hours a day.
Wendel has been a pro for six years in the fledgling sport that is trying to capitalize on the enormous size of the video game industry. Sales of video game consoles and software are expected to reach $35 billion in 2006 -- more than twice the revenue of the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball combined. He's won more than 40 tournaments and has competed all over the globe for prize money.
Even more riches await Wendel, who expects to make millions on licensing deals that are already in progress. Products such as computer mouse pads, headsets and keyboards customized for video game playing now bear his "Fatal1ty" screen name.
Some believe the time is near for video game competitions to become large spectator events. If and when that happens, Wendel will have played an enormous role. "For the new millennium comes a new sportsman�[Wendel] is the first cyber athlete." says Wendel's marketing agent, Mark Walden. "Look back 50 years from now�.There had to be someone at the turn of the century that played baseball. There had to be a Babe Ruth, a Ty Cobb. There has to be a Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel."