Dress, play: Annual Games Summit draws crowd
By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on February 3, 2013 1:50 AM
Ernie Ruffin, dressed as Star Wars character Boba Fett, rearranges his helmet as he participates in the 2013 Carolina Game Summit at Wayne Community College on Saturday.
Wearing the helmet of a clone trooper from Star Wars, Robert Snyder, left, watches a video on the phone of friend Michael Grafton, right, at the 2013 Carolina Game Summit at Wayne Community College on Saturday.
One day ago in a community college not too far, far away ....
It was a period of gaming war. Local gamers, striking from locations around Goldsboro, won a number of victories against electronic competitors during the Carolina Games Summit on Saturday.
Video game enthusiasts, industry representatives and fans of the video game culture all came down to Goldsboro Saturday to compete, to talk about the issues affecting the industry and to enjoy the company of like-minded people.
A few Goldsboro natives took part in the festivities. Team Morello, a group of five young men, sat down to compete in "League of Legends" tournament -- a computer video game that pits a team of five fantastical champions against another team for the control of bases.
The free-to-play game is one of the many games currently popular on the competition circuit among the strategy, dance, fighters and shooters that usually bring gamers together.
Team Morello includes James Beavers, (His favorite champion is Brand, the burning vengeance) Tyler Quinn (Lee Sin, the blind monk), Andrew Seiglie (Jarvan IV, the exemplar of Demacia), Hunter Isbell (Taric, the gem knight) and Billy Quick (Draven, the glorious executioner).
"It's fun, and I love the people here. I enjoy the competition, like 'Hey man, this is serious,'" Quick said.
The group had been playing the game for about a year before they started playing more seriously as a team. When they decided to start participating in competitions, they worked to increase their individual abilities while watching professional tournaments to learn team strategies. This is the second LAN tournament they have been involved in.
The team wouldn't say that it's great, but the members admitted they are pretty good when it comes to the eastern North Carolina gaming scene.
Besides the competition, though, events like these are enjoyable for Team Morello.
"The gaming community is pretty chill," Seiglie said.
Gaming enthusiasts weren't the only groups to head up to the Summit. A few groups embraced the chance to flaunt their costuming prowess through a hobby called "cosplaying" or costume play.
Sarah Futrell and a group of her friends heard about the Summit through a Beyblader. Cosplayers often compete against each other to decide who best represents the characters they are portraying through costuming prowess.
"We try to do this a lot. Any excuse to dress up in cosplay, I take it," said Futrell, aka Spirit Tracks Zelda.
Not many people attended the Summit in costume, but "that just means you get to stand out," Futrell said.
For Futrell, the fun of cosplaying is in figuring out how to take a strange characteristic, like a foot-high hair spike or floating shoulder pauldrons, and convert it into a real-life design.
Another cosplayer in Futrell's group, Sarah Hatcher, aka Marluxia, also enjoys getting into character while in costume.
Hatcher had spent a part of the morning practicing a slow ominous walk/strut that her character, Marluxia, a black-cloaked, pink-haired assassin with a scythe, is known for.
Other random characters spotted at the convention include Mojo Jojo from Powerpuff Girls, Silent Snake from Metal Gear Solid, Pyramid Head from Silent Hill, Pikachu from Pokemon, a guy in a ghillie suit, Deadmaus and plenty of people with Minecraft heads.
Cosplay also includes a few older participants who use costuming as a tool to do some good while having fun.
The 501st Legion is an international costuming group consisting of 6,000 members ranging from 47 different countries. The group consists entirely of men and women who dress as Star Wars villains.
The group has formed to help further the quality of Star Wars costuming, but they also help out by doing volunteer and charity work for organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Ernie Ruffin, from Lucama, is one of them.
Ernie Ruffin started cosplaying with his son eight years back. His first character was Jango Fett. His son was dressed as Boba Fett. At that time, other members of the 501st saw his costume and recruited him into their ranks.
Since that time, he has been working with the 501st as Boba Fett, Jango Fett and as a stormtrooper. Much of Ruffin's costumes have been made by Ruffin himself.
A completely new Boba Fett costume can cost up to $3,000. A new Darth Vader costume could cost from $3,000 to $5,000.
Throughout Ruffin's years with the 501st, he has been able to travel around North Carolina to many conventions. He's also had the chance to be on stage with Weird Al Yankovich, and he has met Jeremy Bulloch who signed the inside of his Fett helmet. Bulloch is the actor who played Boba Fett in the Star Wars films.
"Star Wars to me is a getaway from real life." Ruffin said. "It releases my stress from work."