North Texas Daily

Nerds of a feather: Dentonites unite over games, comics, cosplay

Nerds of a feather: Dentonites unite over games, comics, cosplay

June 15
12:42 2012

Katie Olson / Staff Writer

There exists an unfortunate stereotype of certain segments of modern American youth: sitting alone in a basement, spending hours with either a stack of comic books or a computer buzzing from the effort of running the latest video game.

However, in Denton, watching televised video game competitions, playing Dungeons and Dragons and dressing up like characters from comic books aren’t individual pursuits, but community events that bring together all walks of life.

Vigilant Video Gamers

UNT computer science graduate Joey Lietchy started “Barcraft” in Denton when he realized that there was a sizable group of people with a shared interest of watching online gamers duke it out by playing a strategy game, “Starcraft,” that calls on mastering economy management and about 100 different units, each with very specific attributes.

Barcraft brings together dozens of Dentonites at venues around Denton to watch professional, televised matches of the popular game.

“I bought a 120-inch projector screen and a projector and I get in there about an hour early before the competition starts and we log into the stream. Then I set up the computer and press go and we just watch the finals,” Lietchy said.

The game is a phenomenon in South Korea, where matches have been televised for years and top players enjoy a celebrity similar to American professional sports players. That same fervor is beginning to catch on around the U.S., including Denton.

“It’s that kind of culture that’s beginning to peak its head,” Lietchy said. “And as result it’s become a social event. There’s a nerd community that wants to watch this with their friends.”

The first Denton Barcraft inspired about 250 people to gather around a projector screen and watch a computer game unfold.

“I was overwhelmed and not ready at all. I was hoping there’d be like 20 people. We have a solid following now, anywhere from 40 to 80 people,” Lietchy said.

He said that anyone was welcome to take part, and the same group that regularly gathers to watch Starcraft competes at other video games.

“It’s not just Starcraft. We set up other TV’s and stuff around the area for competitions like ‘Mario Brothers,’ ‘Gears of War’ and ‘Halo,’” he said.

Tabletop Time

The somewhat more conventional UNT Gamers’ Club meets during the fall and spring semesters to play tabletop and card games that fall outside of the norm – the club rarely whips out “Scrabble” or “Battleship.”

“When people think board games they think ‘Monopoly’ and that’s not really what we’re about,” said UNT Gamers’ President and journalism senior Michael Hutchins. “A lot of the games we play are European-style board games that are mainly about economy or building something.”

The group plays game such as “Settlers of Catan,” “Magic: the Gathering” and occasionally “Pokemon.” Hutchins said the gamers usually attract the most attention when playing Mahjong, a heated four-player game similar to rummy.

UNT Gamers’ Club is registered as a sports club, and Hutchins said the group is thrilled to see newcomers take a shot at a tabletop game.

“I look to it as it were as giving the sports club family something they wouldn’t normally have,” Hutchins said. “We get people who normally wouldn’t come to the rec center even if their life depended on it.”

Hutchins hopes that students at UNT will be more aware that the Gamerss’ Club exists and will welcome anyone who wants to join.

Cosplay: When play isn’t enough

“Cosplay,” a combination of the words “costume” and “play,” is a catch-all term for anyone dressing up as an anime, video game or movie character.

Behavior analysis senior Seth Jones started cosplaying in 2008 after attending his first anime convention the previous year.

“When I first went I didn’t know how many people actually dressed up but after attending I kind of got jealous and I wanted to cosplay and get my pictures taken as well,” he said.

Jones has cosplayed several characters, including Kakashi and Ichigo from “Naruto” and “Bleach and Power Rangers,” respectively.

Jones doesn’t limit his cosplay to anime conventions, or A-kons. He and his friends will gather and cosplay at the mall, sometimes even ice skating in full cosplay.

Despite the fact that cosplay originally with fans dressing up as anime or video game characters, it’s branched out to American comics and cartoons such as “Adventure Time” and “My Little Pony.” Jones believes cosplay isn’t strictly meant for anime.

“I think cosplay is evolving, essentially,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s meant to incorporate many different things because it is called costume-play.

Jones admits cosplay may be a little strange to the uninitiated, he urged people to keep an open mind.

“It’s a way to get away from the world and have fun and relax and be silly,” Jones said. “Don’t knock it until you try it, you might have a bit of fun.”

About Author



Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad