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Having a ball in the game pod

Students walking by Castor Beach on Wednesday were bombarded with the sights and sounds of the MTVU Game0RZ Ball Tour ’06. An inflatable futuristic black gaming pod enclosed a crowd of students playing upcoming XBOX 360 games on 18 flat-screen TVs.

The games included Splinter Cell Double Agent, WWE Smackdown! Vs. Raw, Madden NFL ’07 and PocketBiker Racer. Songs such as “Air Force One” by Nelly blasted from huge speakers, and volunteers handed out free promotional items such as wristbands and tampons while students filled out surveys about the event.

“This is very fun. I would love to see more of this,” said Michael Astuto, a junior majoring in political science. “I’ve never really played any of these games before, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be any good.”

This was the last stop for the Game0RZ Ball Tour ’06. The original Nov. 7 date had to be rescheduled due to rain. Other stops included the University of Alabama, Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University.

“The purpose (of the Tour) is really just to be out on college campuses and bringing an opportunity for students to play cool games that aren’t out yet … to give them a chance to participate in some great competitions to get some cool free stuff,” said Jason Rzepka, manager of communications for MTVU. “More or less just to offer a great event for the school and MTV system to interact with and experience some great video-gaming activities.”

Three tournaments were held with prizes for the winners. The Madden NFL ’07 Tournament was held at 11:30 a.m., and the winner received the WWE Smackdown! Vs. Raw game. The PocketBiker Racer Tournament was held at 1:45 p.m., and the winner received a Burger King prize pack that included all three unreleased Burger King games. The Counter-Strike Source tournament was at 3 p.m., and the winner received the Counter-Strike Source game.

“We went in and looked around, played a game or two, got some free CDs and wristbands. Gotta love the wristbands,” said Chris Bloome, a sophomore majoring in pre-architecture. “If they just showed up and were giving it away for free as a way to advertise, that’s awesome. But if they were, like, using student money to bring video games on campus, I think that could be better used. I guess it depends where (the money is) coming from.”

The event was held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and was funded by the Tour’s various sponsors, including Amp’d Mobile, Cingular, Burger King, Tag and others. USF did not fund this event, and it was free to students.

“It’s our mission to connect with students on-air, online and then right there on the campus quad,” Rzepka said. “So yeah, we absolutely want to be on campuses as often as we can to continue to do more and more on-campus events.”

Students can go online to to find more upcoming events and to register for a chance to win an XBOX 360.