Video games rarely get this exciting and exhausting–nor do many video game championships get sports coverage by ESPN. That’s how you know the Big Buck Hunter World Championships are hardcore.

Virtual hunters came from all over the United States and the world to deliver some virtual bullets to trophy bucks in the arcade game Big Buck Hunter. ESPN reports that a group of 20-somethings drove an RV from Detroit to New York City to attend the world championships. The farthest player came from Australia.

It’s a night that consists of a double-elimination shootout between the world’s 64 best players of the arcade game, not available for personal use, but found in arcades, bars and other game centers. Stunt performer, X Games competitor and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Travis Pastrana is the only exception to the regular players who do not own the game. Pastrana bought the arcade game a few years ago for himself and his buddies to play at parties. He competed in the World Championships in New York this year but placed at number 48 out of 64 contestants, likely because of a shoulder injury. In the 2011 championships, he placed sixth.

This year Chris Fream from Minneapolis was the overall winner, which meant he took home $15,000 in prize money–hopefully more than he spent to play the game.

All of the Big Buck Hunter machines in the world are connected and every year the 64 best players are invited to participate in the World Championships. Players win by shooting frolicking bucks while avoiding does. At the championships, competitors play competitively for six hours while an open bar entertains those not in the throes of virtual hunting.

“There are a lot of accountants, a lot of lawyers, and a lot of drunks, too, but drunks that are really smart,” Pastrana explained to ESPN. “You have to be a decent aim but you have to be very smart on what you shoot and what you don’t. Really, it’s a chess game.”

Image from ActiveSteve on the flickr Creative Commons

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