News: Geeks gather for Fragapalooza

Published in the August 6th issue of The Edmonton Sun. News

Geeks gather for Fragapalooza

Edmonton Sun

Hundreds of computer video gamers are set to frag at the 14th annual Fragapalooza video game festival in Leduc this weekend.

“A frag is a kill,” explains Fragapalooza vice president Michael Hollands. “So when you kill your opponent, you basically frag them.”

Hollands is talking about a kill in a video game, something that about 350 hardcore and average gamers started doing on Thursday and will continue to do through to Sunday.

“It’s a lot of fun to get 300 some people together who all like to play games for four straight days,” said Tyler Hardeman, 23, who finished setting up his computer gaming station early Thursday afternoon.

Hardeman’s station is one of hundreds, set up in a number of rows in a 15,000-square-foot area at the Leduc Recreation Centre.

This is his fourth annual frag festival, which he took time off work to attend, and like most gamers who go, Hardeman enjoys Fragapalooza for the social aspect it gives players.

“I enjoy having a good weekend playing games,” he said.

“I like to come out and socialize, meet people you fight online with but have never met face to face,” said girl gamer Erin Barker, 30, whose been to two Fragapaloozas in the past.

Both Hardeman and Barker brought tents to hitch up just outside the rec centre, since the festival runs 24 hours a day, with many gamers playing through the night.

“At 6 in the morning, 100 people will still be gaming. They’ll go get a couple hours of sleep, then they’ll do it all over again,” Hollands said.

“Some people will basically sleep under their desk (computer station),” said Hardeman.

“It’s quite thrilling,” said Fragapalooza veteran Bram Wiebe, 24, who marks his seventh year at the festival this weekend. “The energy can get really, really high.”

The festival allows video game enthusiasts to play games casually but also compete in gaming tournaments where top players can win prize money.

Organizers also encourage non-participants to come and see what the party is all about.

“The sheer size of it, you can’t imagine,” Hollands said.

“What people are going to see is people with headphones on, staring at their computer, yelling at their opponents, and playing games. It is awesome.”

Fragapalooza is the longest running computer gaming event in Canada. In past years it has played host to up to 1,000 gamers at a time.

It runs Aug. 5-8.

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