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Fingers at the ready

World Cyber Games draw the top gamers

SINGAPORE -- ''And it's a goal for Singapore!" the commentator screamed as fans erupted, pumping their fists and roaring to celebrate an equalizer against Romania.

But far from an ordinary soccer match, this game was contested by two gamers pounding away at keyboards at the World Cyber Games -- the computer industry's equivalent of the Olympics.

The total prize money of $430,000 at last week's event is more than some Asian Tour golf tournaments pay out -- and some of the 700 game enthusiasts from 67 countries who gathered in Singapore for the tournament play for a living.

South Korea remains the largest gaming market in the region, but others such as China, Thailand, and Malaysia are quickly catching up, experts say.

Technology market researchers IDC estimate the Asia-Pacific online gaming market, excluding Japan, grew over 30 percent last year, generating $1.09 billion in revenue.

It's this market growth, driven mainly by teenagers, that prompted electronics giants like Intel Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. to sponsor the event at Singapore's Suntec Convention Center, which ended yesterday.

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