Gaming with the ‘Guard’

The area between Cooper Hall and Burger King on Tuesday was a lot of fun and games – literally.

It was the first day of the Florida Army National Guard Interactive Game Experience, which continues today at 10 a.m.

Students surrounded their friends as they battled each other in digital modern warfare and guitar tournaments on many different gaming systems and TVs housed beneath tents.

By 4 p.m., more than 400 students had stopped by for the chance to play newly released video games and win prizes, said Capt. Trevor DeVall, a Florida Army National Guard spokesman.

He said more than 40 people helped plan the event and that different members promote the exhibit across the state at other campuses.

The team uses new games to catch the eyes of students. Games include: “Tekken 6,” “The Beatles: Rock Band” and “Brutal Legend,” as well as “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” which was released Nov. 10.

“This is giving students something fun to do where there’s no pressure to do anything – they come in and play games,” DeVall said. “Numerous tournaments are going on, but at the same time, we have our presence here as the National Guard and (we are) talking to kids that are interested in a different route.”

While a lot of students think that the National Guard is an all-day, active duty lifestyle, DeVall said it’s a very flexible branch of the military.

“Unlike the Reserves or the Army, you are able to still go to school, live your regular life, still work for the government and help your community,” he said.

John Randle, head tour manager for the Interactive Game Exhibit, said the event tries to cater to the clientele they will be supporting.

“Being with the National Guard, we bring out a couple of shooter games,” he said.

He said it is also important to keep the audience in mind. New games tend to attract more people and can be a good marketing tool.

“November actually happens to be a popular month for newer games, so we went out and got those,” he said. “This gives (students) the chance to try out something new and see if they want to buy it or not.”

The exhibit includes 18 gaming stations, each with a flat screen monitor of either 26 or 42 inches. Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 were all represented.

Frances Diaz, a junior majoring in biology, found out about the event from a flyer her friend gave her.

“I think the tournament really attracted more people because one of the prizes was ‘Tekken 6,’ which is a $60 game, for free, and there’s no entry fee,” she said. “I think this event is pretty cool, and I had fun despite the fact that I’m bad (at games). I want to come back to see if I can beat anyone. I might fail, but I’ll try anyways.”

Players can sign up to participate in “Tekken 6” and “Guitar Hero 5” tournaments on the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 at 10 a.m. Actual tournaments take place at noon. Prizes are given to winners.

Ian Bishop, a junior majoring in computer engineering, participated in one of Tuesday’s “Guitar Hero” tournaments, but didn’t win any prizes.

“I think it’s pretty cool everyone gets to play these games. I would definitely rather be here than down the road,” he said. “There’s a place that charges you to test out the new games, which is cool, but it’s not convenient.”

The exhibit is open until 6 p.m. between Cooper Hall and Burger King. It is free for students and anyone else in the Tampa area.