Video-game promoters are trumpeting a Battle of the Sexes: the top male and female fighters face off on Dead or Alive 4 Thursday, part of this week's Championship Gaming Series in Los Angeles. The winner gets a Katana sword and a trip to Tokyo. The battle airs on DirecTV (11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 PT) and live on www.theCGS.com. USA TODAY gives the tale of the tape.
Ryan "Offbeat Ninja" Ward, 19, Edmonton, Alberta; member of the Carolina Core professional team and first-place winner in several DOA4 competitions.
Q: Why did you choose to play Dead or Alive 4?
A: I randomly picked this game up three years ago. I really enjoyed it originally just for the fun of it. Then I saw they had these online tournaments and entered a couple for the fun of it, and I wound up winning some. I realized I could compete in it and do well. When I saw that this game was in the CGS, I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to get paid to do what you love.
Q: Why do men make better video game players?
A: It seems like, in general, men have more dedication to games and will play them a lot longer. And it seems like it's easier for men to grasp the intricacies of games. They understand why the game works and why a certain move will lead to another move. Males, in general, are more competitive, too. When we play a game, we always want to be the best, even when we are playing a game like Mario Party. We always like to win, regardless.
Q: Are you representing your entire gender in this match?
A: It does parallel that (Bobby Riggs vs. Billie Jean King tennis match) a little bit and, especially for (North America), I feel like I am representing all the male DOA players. Right now, I am top ranked, so if I were to lose to Vanessa somehow, it would mean she would be better than all the males in Region 1.
Q: What do your girlfriend and women friends think about the match? Are they rooting for or against you?
A: Actually, my women friends are really rooting for me. I think, in general, all my friends want me to win. I don't have anybody that's wanting me to lose. At least they are not telling me. They might be secretly hoping.
Q: How embarrassing would it be to lose?
A: It would be pretty embarrassing. Not only would my pride be shot down, but there is a really cool prize that I would lose as well. I cannot let that happen.
Q: How many hours a week do you practice and play video games?
A: Leading up to a tournament, I'd say I spend 6 to 8 hours daily. When I'm not preparing for a tournament, maybe I'm only practicing 2 to 3 hours a day. I do play other games that aren't DOA, and that's not practicing. So I would say, on average, I play games 5 hours a day.
Q: Do video games inhibit your social life?
A: It definitely can cut into it. You have to try to make a balance between games and go do other things with friends. But especially right before a tournament, you may have to pass up some other things you want to do. It's like a normal sport with all the training and dedication.
Q: How do your parents feel about your video game profession?
A: Originally my parents weren't too cool with the gaming thing. They would have rather had me concentrating on schooling or the social aspects of life. But then, once they saw you can actually make money and a living off of it, and I brought home some checks from tournaments, they flipped around. They want me to play now. That's kind of weird.