COLOGNE, GERMANY (Reuters) - It's not exactly an Olympic sport - not yet, anyway - but as the London Games drew to a close this past Sunday, thousands of professional videogame players geared up for an event that for some can be as lucrative as winning a gold medal. Videogamers have gathered in Cologne, Germany this week for the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) competition, a professional videogame tournament that runs through August 19.
Professional electronic gaming, or eSports, is relatively new and has been gaining popularity around the world in recent years. Germany and South Korea are two hot markets, and the United States is quickly catching up.
Pro gamers can earn anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 or more in winnings and make even more in product endorsements, teaching and other sponsorships. Videogame makers say participating in an event can boost a game's popularity.