News: 'Warcraft' players square off in video game tournament
By Lance Cpl. David Rogers
III Marine Expeditionary Force PAO
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- The Horde and the Alliance clashed in the medieval land of Azeroth Jan. 13 as battles between orcs and humans raged at The Spot on Camp Foster.
For outsiders, the Marine Corps Community Services World of Warcraft tournament may have looked like an obscure event targeting a small group of video game nerds. But the most popular massive multi-player online role-playing game is drawing a broader following every day, and MCCS organizers reached out to the many WoW enthusiasts here.
More than 150 people signed up for the tournament, which was originally scheduled to take place during the 2006 holidays as a part of the "Beating the Blues" campaign. Tournament organizers opted to hold the competition the weekend before the release of the game's much-anticipated expansion "World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade," which adds to the WoW game world.
The tournament consisted of 15 rounds in which players were given 25 minutes to create a new character and gain as many experience points as possible. Players earn experience points by slaying monsters and completing in-game quests. Gamers reach higher levels after earning a required amount of experience points, which allows their characters to become stronger fighters.
John Cushing came in first place in the tournament with his level-five human rogue character. He won a 30-gigabyte video iPod, an iLuv speaker system, a headset, a Blizzard T-shirt, a WoW poster signed by the creators of the game and a ticket reserving a copy of the Burning Crusade, which was released at the Post Exchange Jan. 16.
Cushing has been playing the game since Thanksgiving of 2005 and said he knew he would win the tournament as soon as he saw the advertisement. He did over three weeks of testing to devise his strategy. Last year Cushing spent approximately 85 days worth of accumulated hours on the game, he said.
Cushing attributes the game's 7.5 million subscribers to its simplistic game play that allows a wide range of players to pick it up.
Players will often form guilds, a gang of members that will work to help each other. An 8-year-old boy and a 50-year-old-man fight alongside each other as peers in Cushing's online guild, known as Southern Cross.
The tournament was organized by Kristina Gonzalez, the facility manager of The Spot, and John Peters, a representative for Vivendi Games. The two chose World of Warcraft because of the game's popularity.
The tournament was not The Spot's first attempt at a video game competition. Gonzalez and Peters recently tried to hold a tournament featuring a different game, but the event was cancelled as a result of poor attendance. World of Warcraft is currently the most popular game among service members on island, according to Peters.
"(WoW) was just the best game to choose," Gonzalez said. She attributes the game's popularity among service members to its vast world that players can explore.
"It's not a game, it's a world," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez and Peters expect to have more tournaments in the future. And they plan to prepare for the same large crowd.
The same WoW enthusiasts who participated in the tournament joined hundreds more who lined up outside the Camp Foster Post Exchange Jan. 16 for the release of "The Burning Crusade." When the doors opened at 9 a.m., an exchange employee handed out copies of the game expansion to the anxious crowd as they shuffled past a display near the entrance.
The Camp Foster PX sold out of its 375 copies within an hour, an Exchange manager said.
Date Posted:01.22.2007 14:26
Location:CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JP
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