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March 15, 2012
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The Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge

By Jared Curtis

Competitors battle it out during last year’s event. The 2012 Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge takes place on March 17-18 at All Play, 615 3rd St. For more information, visit www.iowaprogamingchallenge.com.

Compete against rival teams in video game competitions

Although it doesn’t take an ounce of physical activity, video gaming offers some of the fiercest competition on the planet. Whether you’re playing against some buddies in the same room or an unknown opponent from across the globe online, video games can get the blood pumping and the trash talk flowing. It’s no wonder, then, that The 2012 Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge could be one of the most competitive events of the year.

“This is by far the largest gaming tournament in Iowa,” said Ben McDougal, president of Jet Set Studio and tournament director for the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge. “This year, we expanded the event by adding a new game. Hopefully that’ll bring in more competitors.”

This is the third year for the event, which has found a home at All Play,

“We’ve been really lucky to work with the people at All Play. They have all of the electrical outlets we need, which makes for a perfect event,” McDougal said.

The event features three games — “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, “Halo: Reach,” and new this year, “Gears of War 3.” Last year, 50 teams of four battled it out in a double-elimination tournament for more than $7,000 in cash and prizes.

“We had 15 different states represented last year, and we’re hoping for more teams and spectators this year. We have lots of returning players including some champions, so it’s a nice mix of new and old faces,” McDougal said. “It’s very loud, with plenty of trash talking going on. If you’ve never been to a live video game event, you’re in for a fun experience.”

Although the tournaments are filled (check the website for possible registration the day of), spectators can get in on the action for only $10. Along with the games, there will be prize giveaways and some green elixir to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Adding to the spectator experience is the event’s live stream at www.iowaprogamingchallenge.com.

“We’ve partnered with Twitch.TV for the live stream this year, which will help with production. We also have a number of video commentators coming in from out of state to really bring the live feed to life,” McDougal said. “Our goal last year was to have 5,000 viewers, and we got 135,000 viewers in one day. This year, we’re looking to get 500,000 viewers over the two days.”

The live stream of the event is a great way to experience the games without even being there,” McDougal said.

“It’s a small moment in time when a unique spotlight is focused on Des Moines,” McDougal said. “And from a gamer’s perspective, if you do well and make it to the main stage, you could be playing in front of thousands of people.”

Although most would assume a big screen TV is ideal for a gamer, McDougal disagrees.

“We’ll have between 50 and 60 gaming stations with 22-inch TVs set-up,” he said. “Although they might seem small, 22-inch screens are the largest a player can see without moving his head. Along with the rules, it makes for a more strategic game.”

McDougal is striving to make the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge one of the best around.

“This event is so much more than just some kids getting together to play video games. Hopefully we can bring in more sponsors in the future and really make this a great event,” he said. “Even if you’re not a gamer, you can still stop out and root on a team, enjoy some trash talk and be a part of the largest gaming tournament in the state.” CV



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