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It's not all fun for gamers

Fans attending GottaCon event are a little obsessive about their hobby

Adam Ouellet takes playing games very seriously. He has been in the same windowless room for nearly 23 hours and has 26 more to go. He subsists on pizza, hot dogs and energy drinks, which he chokes down during breaks in his play.

He is one of the hundreds of dedicated gamers who committed to the 49-hour-long GottaCon Gamers Convention at Pearkes Recreation Centre.

The event began Friday and will run until today at 7 p.m. It featured more than 200 different events, from board games to video games and role playing.

Ouellet is fully immersed in Magic, a fantasy card game in which players strategically use their hands to weaken their opponents.

There were 60 players in yesterday's tournament, which consisted of hour-long rounds, six of them in a row, with very few breaks in between.

"Every time I sit still, I start to nod off," Ouellet said, which probably explains why they keep the games going constantly. Ouellet, who's been playing Magic for about a year, came because he wanted a new challenge, to compete against new players instead of playing with friends. (He knows their strategies too well by now, he said.)

"It's definitely a social game. You laugh at someone for making a mistake, you brag when you destroy someone, you encourage someone. 'Carl, win,' " he said to the guy on his left.

Other gamers stared at 42-inch LCD television screens, manipulating the video game console's (Xbox 360, Playstation, you name it) controller to make their character shoot down a machine-gun wielding bad guy or land a trick on a skateboard.

"Sometimes, you get in the zone and your eyes get kind of dry because you're not blinking as much as you should," said Paul Smith, who had been playing Skate 2 for 21/2 hours straight.

Other gamers focused their concentration on building a giant Lego land, or adopting the persona of a character in a role-playing game.

While a big draw of the convention is the ability to preview new games, one benefit is the opportunity to interact with other gamers face to face, trade tips and share a little healthy competition, organizer Evan Hatch said.

"I met some people that I only knew online," said Curtis Klajch of Duncan, who was about to compete in a computer game called Defense of the Ancients, or DotA.

At 4:24 p.m. yesterday, Klajch, too, had been at the convention since it opened. A little bleary-eyed, he looked at the digital clock and said: "It feels like 4:24 in the morning."

But as soon as someone vacated a nearby computer he perked up. "Gotta run off to a match."

kderosa@tc.canwest.com

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