Game expo a feast for core fans

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The Dallas Morning News
Ron Baselice/DMN
Dallas resident Brandon Stone plays Payday 2 on his custom computer, Project Miami, on Saturday during QuakeCon at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.
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DALLAS — With the promise of exclusive reveals and a celebration unlike any other, QuakeCon 2015 rocked gamers’ worlds this weekend. The four-day gaming convention comes to a close today at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

This year was special for QuakeCon, which marked its 20th year in North Texas.

Since the mid-’90s, the expo has showcased the latest and greatest in Id Software’s competitive gaming titles. But since Id Software’s acquisition by ZeniMax Media in 2009, the convention has become a larger platform for some of the biggest titles in the industry from studios like Bethesda Softworks (The Elder Scrolls series) and MachineGames (Wolfenstein: The New Order).

This year’s guests of honor: Fallout 4, a post-apocalyptic role-playing shooter set in a bustling wasteland, and Doom, a re-imagining of the classic blood- and gore-filled shooter.

“We have fans and competitors traveling to QuakeCon from around the world,” id studio director Tim Willits said. “Bethesda has been very supportive of QuakeCon and helps us continually grow the event year after year.”

After a critically acclaimed Doom multiplayer reveal Thursday night, things came to a head midday Friday as the Fallout 4 presentation began.

Todd Howard, executive producer and game director at Bethesda, introduced the game to a sea of screams.

“We showed Skyrim here a few years back,” Howard told the crowd as thundering applause backed him. “And apparently a woman went into labor during the show. These are some hardcore fans.”

Throughout the weekend, gamers packed a large area of the Hilton for what’s known as the largest local area network party in North America. Billed as the premiere “bring your own computer” gaming event, gamers’ custom-built computers, some of them massive, lined rows of tables as games of Rocket League, Hearthstone and others raged on late into the night.

“I just play little games, but I actually have a programming assignment due, so I’ve just been working on that,” said Jackie Voltz, a junior in the University of North Texas’ computer science program. “Next year, I’ll probably be more prepared packing-wise because I had to balance my computer on a suitcase. I’d bring a trolley or something next year, for sure.”

Voltz said things can get pretty hectic during the long nights of the LAN gaming party. The event runs throughout the entirety of the four-day convention.

What kind of antics did she witness?

“The craziest was either the guy running around naked with only a Vault Boy mask covering himself during the showing of Jurassic Park, or the huge fight in the beginning,” Voltz said. “We all ‘whoop!’ and everyone echoes as tradition, but these guys had never been [to QuakeCon] so they got really upset and started shoving some other kids. They had to get escorted out.”

Despite the drama, Voltz said she fell in love with QuakeCon’s culture on her first visit.

“I went as a guest last year and was so amazed by all the awesome PCs people built,” she said. “So I built my own and returned.”


NICHOLAS FRIEDMAN can be reached at 940-566-6897 or on Twitter @NMFreed.

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