Man vs. woman: Let's play 'Dead or Alive 4'

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 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.

Q: If you were looking your opponent in the eye right now, what would you tell her?

A: I'd say, "Good luck. You are going to need it."

Vanessa Arteaga, 21, Modesto, Calif., formerly with all-girl team The PMS Clan and currently with San Francisco Optx. Took first in DOA 4 in several top events, and was the first person drafted in CGS pro gaming league.

Q: Why play DOA 4?

A: Basically, I've always been a big fan of fighting games. At first the 2-D games (like Street Fighter) and then I got into the 3-D games. I started playing Dead or Alive on the (Sega) Dreamcast, they kept coming up with new versions of it, and I got addicted.

Q: Are women better video game players?

A: I wouldn't necessarily say that. But I think we are on the same level as males. We have the same tools. We are very competitive, no matter what men say. And a lot of us have the willingness to learn, too.

Q: Are you representing your entire gender in this match?

A: I think I am representing some, especially the DOA females, and want to prove that I have what it takes to take this guy down and show him he's not as good as he thinks.

Q: What do your guy friends think about the match?

A: They were like, "Please, you have to beat this guy and show him you can do it" and "Take him out." These are the males saying that. It adds to it.

Q: How embarrassing would it be to lose?

A: That would really hurt my pride a lot because I don't think we're that different. We played each other in the past (Ryan won 5-3 in December 2006), and I think we can beat each other. I will try my best and hopefully that will be enough.

Q:How many hours a week do you practice and play?

A: Probably 4 to 6 hours a day. I mainly play DOA but sometimes I do take a break and play stuff on the (Nintendo) Wii or Halo, stuff like that. And I like to play the Nintendo DS from time to time.

Q:Do video games inhibit your social life?

A: Not really; there's a good balance between games and life. You can still do the things you enjoy and still do what you need to play. My social life is pretty healthy, I would say. I wouldn't say video games rule my life, but they are a pretty big factor.

Q:How do your parents feel about your profession?

A: At first they, like any other parents, were thinking I was wasting my time. They said, "You can't make a living off this, it's just a hobby, something you do to kill time." But once they saw the opportunities I had going, they were very supportive. Now they are egging me on.

Q:If you were looking your opponent in the eye right now, what one thing would you tell him/her?

A: I would say I look forward to a good match. And I think that you better watch how this one goes, because I don't know that the result will be the same (as the last time).