Gamers gather to test skills in video-game tourney

Marcus Garcia plays Counter Strike during Game Quest 2005 at Cyber City in Clovis. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

Jason Sweeney said he likes to play video games to forget about work. Sweeney, 20, was one of about 60 competitors who took part in Saturday’s Game Quest, an all-day video game tournament at Cyber City, which also featured live music and food.

Sweeney, who works at a cow feed plant, entered the Counterstrike tournament.

“I work all day, so I come over here to relax and get my mind off of everything,” Sweeney said. “I entered the tournament because I want to see how good I am at it (Counterstrike).”

Like most players at Cyber City, Sweeney is known by a nickname. Sweeney’s is Dark Fury.

“I don’t know where that came from,” Sweeney said. “I just made it up one day.”

Chase Rupe, 19, played in the Unreal Tournament. Rupe said there is strategy like any other sporting event.

“Basically, you go for health and a shield,” Rupe said. “Whoever has the shield usually wins.”

Before Saturday, Rupe had never been to Cyber City, but Game Quest 2005 brought him out.

“Good music, good games, lots of fun, that’s basically it,” Rupe said.

Like Sweeney, Garcia plays games to deal with stress.
“I get to take out my frustrations of the day with computer games,” Garcia said.

Howard Blake, the owner of Cyber City, said video game tournaments are the future of entertainment.

“This is it,” Blake said. “With broadband Internet you can play at home. However, as you can see by the expressions on faces out here, the best way is getting in groups and playing that way. It’s a lot of fun.”

Blake explained how the tournament works.

“It’s the last man standing,” Blake said. “You have 16 people going all at one time on the TVs. You play until one guy is left.”

Awards were given for the top three players in each tournament.

Blake said playing in tournaments is different than playing at home.

“When kids come in here, they are used to playing their PlayStation or Xbox alone,” Blake said. “But they’ve never played in this kind of environment. It’s an entirely different experience. It really maximizes the thrill potential for gaming. It creates camaraderie that you just don’t get playing at home.”

Blake said Cyber City hosts video game tournaments all the time, but he wanted Game Quest to be something special.

“We said, ‘let’s do a big thing. We’ll have a whole day of events, we’ll have food, we’ll bring in a live band, lets do it,’” Blake said.

With Violent Saint providing background music, 17 players competed in the first tournament of the day on Halo 2 for Xbox.

Dusty Mahan, or “Dopey” as he’s known to fellow gamers, took home a Sony PSP for beating Matt Tucker, AKA Sneakytuck, in the finals.