Whether they prefer collectible card games, tabletop games or games for consoles, gamers from across North Carolina can flock to The Escapist Expo, an event hosting a variety of games, tournaments and other attractions in Durham this weekend.
The expo, which is an extension of the gaming magazine “The Escapist,” will host various events including guest speakers, open play areas, a cosplay contest, several gaming tournaments and the unveiling of unreleased games, all while running a weekend-long game of Humans vs. Zombies.
“I’d highly encourage anyone who is thinking about attending to attend, because it’s going to be the largest gaming event in North Carolina by far,” said Michael Everett, creative director of Carolina Games Summit, a local volunteer-run gaming organization and long-term partner of the Escapist Expo. CGS will host several events and open free play gaming at the Expo.
Some of the major attractions at the Expo will be guest speaker Yahtzee Croshaw, the voice behind the popular game review series Zero Punctuation, and gaming contests for unreleased games such as Johann Sebastian Joust.
The expo will also host the World Cyber Games USA National Finals, where top competitive gamers will compete against one another in multiple gaming titles and platforms.
Some games, such as Starcraft II and League of Legends , had preliminaries that contestants had to win in order to move to the USA finals, Everett said. He said one game, Street Fighter IV, will be open so that anyone can register online and compete in the tournament.
“The whole [Street Fighter IV] tournament is going to be at the Escapist Expo,” he said, “so 128 players will enter and one person will win, and that person will get a ticket to the World Cyber Games World Championship Finals.”
Tournaments aren’t the only outlet for those interested in video games. One of the most anticipated events that Carolina Games Summit will bring to the Expo is an unreleased game called Johann Sebastian Joust.
“This isn’t like a normal game like people are thinking,” Everett said. “You don’t even need a TV for this — you just need sound.”
J.S. Joust is designed for motion controllers like the PlayStation Move. Players try to move their opponents controllers without moving too much themselves. Players win if they keep their controllers steady longer than anyone else.
“It’s kind of like musical chairs is what it’s kind of like,” he said.
Music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach plays in the background, and the players’ movement depends on the speed of the music. The faster the tempo of the music, the more players can move around without losing the game.
Atomic Empire, a store for comics, games and hobbies in Durham, will run the Magic the Gathering tournaments at the expo. The shop is one of several local stores involved in the event.
Shane Ivins, event coordinator for Atomic Empire, said that anyone at the expo can participate in Magic tournaments.
“Any time we have eight people who are interested in doing a small field tournament, we can just start,” he said. “Basically all they need to do is stop by the room where it’s happening and let us know if they’re interested, and they can participate in as many or as few of the tournaments as they like.”
Ivins said people with varying levels of Magic experience participate at the expo.
“Of course you’re going to have people who come and are regular magic players, but even people who have never played the game before — we actually run first time demos for free, where you get a 30-stack for free just for trying the game out,” he said.
Other local businesses have recently discovered the expo and will be attending to see what it is like.
“Really I just want to go and see if it will be worth it for us to be an onsite vendor next year,” said Jim Flowers, co-owner of MultiVerse Gamers on Franklin Street.
Flowers said he is interested in seeing some of the collectible card game exhibits at the Expo.
“There’s a part of it that deals specifically with collectible card games, and a lot of vendors there that will be dealing in that, and since that’s our primary business we’ll be looking forward to meeting some of them,” Flowers said.
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