I've seen plenty of big bets placed on the future of video game wagering and the promises of sponsored tournaments, with most of that long-shot money getting ripped to shreds without ever making a dent in the market.
But those startup sites didn't have anywhere near the resources of Virgin Gaming. And by resources, I'm talking a private island, spacecraft, and a fleet of airliners that can be used to entice gamers to go big or go home ... literally.
What I'm talking about is a proposed gaming tournament where two Virgin America jets take off and are headed somewhere like Richard Branson's private Caribbean Island. On each plane are a number of gamers who are playing as a team against a group of gamers on the other plane. The winning team gets to land on the island and enjoy the fun and sun that go along with it. The losers? Their plane turns around and takes them back to where they started. Ouch.
"The prizes we are going to offer are world class," explains co-founder Billy Levy. "Plane versus plane in the sky will be our Mile-High tournament, and that's definitely going to happen. You don't want to be on that losing plane."
The world of gaming has never seen anything quite like what Virgin is promising, with the wins taking gamers to the highest of highs while the losses are sent packing without ever even getting to open their luggage.
But that is just the beginning, as Virgin hopes to take tournament gaming mainstream, locking up a deal with EA Sports and flying in some of the top "Madden NFL 11" gamers to compete for prizes at this weekend's Maxim Super Bowl party in Dallas. You think you had pressure making field goals in front of your friends, try booting a 50-yarder as some model bumps into you and knocks her drink on your lap.