Fun and Games at DirecTV

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DirecTV will make its entrée into the world of professional video gaming when it airs the Championship Gaming Invitational in August as part of its original-programming lineup, officials said Wednesday.

Teaming up with IGN Entertainment, Microsoft’s Xbox, PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew, Fox Interactive Media and Best Buy, the direct-broadcast satellite provider will present the international, two-day challenge featuring huge prize purses for top finishers and instant money payouts.

Competitors will face off in extreme games such asElectronic Arts’ Battlefield 2; Microsoft Game Studios’ Project Gotham Racing 3 and Halo 2; Tecmo’s Dead or Alive 4; and Valve’s Counter-Strike 1.6.

The special event will be taped July 21-22.

“We believe professional video gaming is the next big thing in sports entertainment, and we are dedicated to creating and televising the best gaming experience available anywhere,” DirecTV Entertainment president David Hill said in a prepared statement.

“This invitational will prove that commitment as we gather together some of the most talented players, the hottest production team and innovative set designers to create a truly unique video-gaming environment and a one-of-a-kind television event,” he added.

Acclaimed set designer Jeff Hall will transform a 16,000-square-foot airplane hangar at the former Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco into an indoor arena for video gaming, complete with a center stage and surrounding stadium.

DirecTV will add its expertise in professional-sports coverage by giving viewers the most unlimited access to players and the field, including play-by-play commentary and a unique, point-of-view perspective.

The Championship Gaming Invitational is one of three gaming specials DirecTV will air this year. The special is designed to set the stage for the previously announced Championship Gaming Series, a new professional gaming league in association with IGN, Xbox, Best Buy and Mountain Dew. The league will form in 2007 with competitions airing exclusively on DirecTV.

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