Times Bulletin Editor
ARCHBOLD Hundreds turned out for Game-Con ’23, the second-ever video game convention hosted by Northwest State Community College on Saturday, January 7.
The first Game-Con took place in December 2019. It was just a tournament with a few dozen in attendance.
This year’s event was sponsored by companies from Worthington Industries, Sauder Manufacturing, Bryan Gamestop, and NWO Gamers. This means a bigger budget and more events.
The main draw was “Super Smash Bros.” Tournament with a $300 cash prize. The game is ideal for tournament play because it features one-on-one combat between dozens of Nintendo characters from four decades of the company’s history (1980-2020). Just like a sports tournament, the winning players advanced in tournament brackets until the last two competed for the champion. The competition lasted all day from 10 am to 4 pm
In addition to the tournament, there were board and card games, vendor tables, and costume play [cosplay] A competition, a “Rocket League” tournament, and a quiet room for those with young children or people with special needs.
Such conventions appeal to the child in all of us. If you want to know how well they do just ask a kid. I took my eight year old. rate it?
The giant table of LEGOs was fun, but it just couldn’t beat the virtual reality show. He played a game called “Beat Saber”, keeping time for a song by slashing flying objects with lightsabers and lightsabers. He liked it so much that he came back for the “Job Simulator,” cooking steak and eggs in a virtual dinner for virtual customers. The 90-second sketch was a competition to see who could draw the best likeness of a fictional character of the time using Photoshop. Neither of us knew the character so it was a draw, so to speak.
The vintage game consoles were a blast, playing arcade classics like Konami’s “Rolling Thunder” (1986) and “Aliens” (1990) while dad pitched the idea of a video arcade – people once paid quarters to play games when home systems were scarce and expensive.
He preferred the newer games, and gravitated towards the open gaming area where strangers could sit and compete casually. His favorite was something called “Goat Simulator 3”, a parody of “Grand Theft Auto” where the players are goats instead of car thieves. “Goat Simulator 3” is now on his birthday wish list.
He worked at the NSCC Student Conference. One of them, Wyatt Fruth, is an electrical engineering student. We chatted while my son was washing the virtual dishes. Fruth volunteered because he had a scholarship, and scholarships require a number of volunteer hours. Another volunteer, who asked not to be identified, was asked to help because he was already a member of the college’s e-sports group, NSCC Thunder.
Whether volunteers or recruits, those who work at the convention have deep roots in technology. NSCC Thunder is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Electronic Sports [NACE], which allows the group to compete with other students from other schools. To be a member of Thunder, students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours. and maintaining a 3.0 GPA. The college has an electronic sports trainer. His name is Ethan Eberly, and he’s an alumnus of the Archbold campus.
As my son and I were walking down the halls, we noticed a couple of students driving a robot into the elevator. Samantha Stein Major in Mechanical Engineering, Marek Kreiner Major in Information Technology. They built the robot for the class competition. Its purpose is to grab ping pong balls and load them into a bowl. “People tell me all the time I look like I’m 12,” Kreiner jokes. I told him Miss Stein looked 12, but he looked 17 from the outside. He replied, “I will be 21 next month.”
“Super Smas Bros.” The championship was won by Landon Frank of Auburn, Indiana. Frank has competed in “over 300 tournaments and won about 20”. I asked him if he had anything to say about his impressive win. He thought for a moment, then smiled: “No.”
Frank has been playing for eight years – since he was nine years old. He graduated from high school just weeks before the competition. When asked how many hours he had spent gaming, he replied, “5,000 hours on my console, but more on my PC.” Think about it: 5,000 hours. It is a vocational training. In 5,000 hours, Frank could have become the youngest commercial pilot in the world…and still have time to learn to weld.
Those organizing Game-Con ’23 understand that. They know that yesterday’s hobby is tomorrow’s profession, and that tomorrow’s professions will be occupied by the next generation of video game fans and LEGO creators. If your children or grandchildren love “useless hobbies,” the best way to support them is by encouraging the things they love.
Great things come from small beginnings, and what seems worthless to you may be their life’s purpose.
If not, they can always get a summer job cooking virtual hamburgers in a virtual restaurant for virtual customers.