Four race cars barrel down a virtual track, jostling for position. Announcers shout their commentary over growling engines until a winner speeds past a checkered flag.
The frenetic race televised on DirecTV wasn"t a NASCAR event. It was staged as part of a new video game league that aims to turn gaming into a full-fledged sport, as compelling to watch as the National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball.
The Championship Gaming Series debuted last week in the U.S. and has franchises around the world that pay top players base salaries of $30,000 plus bonuses.
Organizers hope to attract an audience of the same young gamers who pushed computer and video game software sales to $7.4 billion in 2006 - a 6 percent increase from 2005, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
Advertisers are eager to reach those 18 to 24 year-old consumers.
The challenge for the league is making the on-screen action compelling enough to persuade those gamers to stop playing and start watching.