First Gamefest to bring teen video gamers together

APk_7-11_Gamefest1webBy CHRIS JACKETT
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – Video game lovers beware!

The Parks and Recreation Department is hosting its first Gamefest tournament Friday at the Community Center, 15800 White.

Local youth ages 12 to 17 will be able to compete in tournaments for “Rock Band 2” on Xbox 360, “Dance Dance Revolution Supernova” on PlayStation 2 and “Super Smash Brothers Brawl” on Nintendo Wii. They also can open play those games and “Band Hero” on Xbox 360. One console will be set up for each game.

“To me, the systems don’t matter. It’s all about the game,” said Joel Tacey, owner of the Tiptop Entertainment program. “It’s open play. Throughout the open play, there’s going to be tournaments announced. Typically, it’s a randomized single-elimination bracket. We kind of make up rules and agree upon them.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve noticed is that Gamefest is like a teen dance where no one’s left out and no one feels awkward.”

The event, which Tacey said is capable of hosting up to 60 young people, takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. Registration cost $20 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. It includes pizza and pop, as well as entry into the three gaming contests that will have gold medal awards for the winners of each game.

“Video games, they can be an equalizer. You never know who’s going to win,” Tacey said.

He said he hosted a citywide “Guitar Hero” championship in Dearborn last year during homecoming celebrations and a 9-year-old won an all-ages tournament with more than 100 contestants.

“It’s one of the hardest age groups for us to market programs to,” said Jennifer Hughes, the city’s recreation/senior specialist. “The young people that I know in that age group love their video games and love getting together to compete.”

Gamefest attendees also are encouraged to bring their Nintendo DS and PSP handheld gaming consoles to practice on the side while the main console tournaments are going on.

Tacey hopes those attending sign up for participation in a Michigan statewide gaming championship he plans to host in an upcoming November.

Call (734) 928-0771 or stop by the Community Center to register. Advance registration is preferred but not required.