“Digital Coliseum” brings video game tournament to Kannapolis

  • Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013 12:26 a.m.
Super Street Fighter 4 was one of the games contestants could play at the Digital Coliseum Gaming tournament held Saturday at Village Park in Kannapolis.
Super Street Fighter 4 was one of the games contestants could play at the Digital Coliseum Gaming tournament held Saturday at Village Park in Kannapolis.

KANNAPOLIS – Video game tournaments often involve a warehouse-sized room filled with glowing monitors, booming sound effects and a frenzied atmosphere.

Saturday, at Village Park in Kannapolis, local kids and teens got to “start small” with a local tournament.

For six hours that afternoon and evening, the park’s event room became the Digital Coliseum — a four-game video tournament that organizers said was a great way to introduce new players.

“We like to keep things as local as possible,” said Anthony Zacarolo, owner of Concord-based Winlossgaming.

Zacarolo’s company provided the HDTV screens, game systems and games for the event, plus a large projector so spectators could watch players duke it out electronically.

Becky Tolle, recreation and special events coordinator for Kannapolis Parks and Recreation, said this is the second such event that Winlossgaming has held.

Last year’s video game event featured family-friendly games in addition to those rated for teenagers, such as the “Street Fighter” series.

This year, Tolle said, the emphasis was more on teens and young adults.

Instead of massive game tournaments with hundreds of people, Zacarolo and Tolle said the Village Park event provided a secure and supervised place to play.

Around the event center, players gravitated toward their favorite genres.

In one corner, a four-person game of “Halo 4” was playing out on four flat-screen TVs.

On the big projection screen, two others duelled in “Super Street Fighter IV AE.”

And, in keeping with “March Madness,” basketball fans could play “NBA 2K13.”

“We try to do something in different genres,” Zacarolo said.

With some input from fans, the games were chosen to be age-appropriate, he said.

But that didn’t mean “boring.”

Spectators cheered on the players in the futuristic battleground of “Halo 4.”

When the round was over, Keilen McNeil said he was glad to get to play.

McNeil said he doesn’t have a recent video game system at home, “so it was cool to get to play an updated (Xbox).”

“It’s just plain-out epic gaming,” said John Bullard, who said he’s a fan of the “Halo” series.

“I practically won’t play any other game,” he said.

Bullard said that, despite what you see, there’s more to so-called “shooter” games than action.

“You have to have a strategy,” Bullard said.

Elsewhere, Mario Smith of Kannapolis and James Drye and Tony Montero, both of Concord, took turns playing.

“I just like hanging out with everybody, you know?” Montero said. “I go to (tournaments) a lot ... I’ve met a lot of people, and winning is nice, too.”

The crowds were friendly and cheerful, and Winlossgaming’s staff pitched in to help show newcomers how to play.

“I love seeing the passion in people’s faces,” said Krystina Ritchie of Winlossgaming. “Every one of them has the same passion for playing video games.”

She said tournaments, large or small, add a human dimension that players don’t get on the Internet.

“Playing online, you meet a lot of people, but meeting them face to face — it’s just better bonding,” Ritchie said.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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