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Local Gamer Goes To EVO2013

Gordon Connell would scoff at the idea that video games are bad for you. “It gives you that feeling of being a hero,” the 24-year-old said. “The purpose of gaming is to give you that vicarious feeling of something that is really cool in real life, but that you’re not physically doing.”

And living a vicarious lifestyle of saving princesses, throwing people off cliffs and roundhouse kicking, is something the Hicksville High School graduate knows well. For the past seven years he has been competing in video game tournaments all over North America, and he recently traveled to Las Vegas for Evolution 2013 (EVO2013), the biggest fight game tournament of the year.

Players traveled from all over the world for the video game tournament that featured games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Tekken Tag. There were seven games chosen for the tournament lineup, and gamers also competed to get their choice in the eighth slot by raising money for cancer. Connell, along with other members of the “smash” community were able to raise $92,000 for the Breast Cancer Foundation and get Super Smash Brothers Melee entered in EVO2013. Connell says that the gaming community is one of the best parts about being a gamer. He says that by going to competitions and tournaments, he has made friends from almost every country. He keeps in touch and networks with other “smash” lovers through the website, an online community which keeps people up-to-date on the latest game updates, game events, livestreams and more.

“The smash community is really cool,” Connell says. “We all personally know each other and get to spend time at each other’s houses and get a lot of time to bond. And you get a lot of people rooting for their friends and they genuinely want you to win.”

The object of Super Smash Brothers Melee is simple: beat up the other players (characters include Mario, Donkey Kong and Kirby) or knock them off the ledge before the time runs out. With his characters Marth and Falco, Connell was able to place in the top 30 out of 1,000 entrants at EVO2013. And while many may think that playing video games is just fun, Connell says it involves a lot of strategy.

“It’s interesting to play and watch other people play because you see how they think. It’s something that may look simple, but there’s five or six reasons behind why they do it,” Connell says.

Connell began playing Super Smash Brothers in high school, and says a childhood of watching kung fu moves and playing other video games, got him addicted.

“I have an attraction to well-choreographed fight scenes so I was able to get that vicarious feeling through video games,” Connell said. In 2006, he started competing and for two and a half years he would spend every weekend traveling to tournaments. Now, as a computer science major at SUNY Old Westbury, he doesn’t play video games for six hours a day or compete as much as he did before.

“The most important thing is to have fun with it and not take it like a job. You don’t want to stress yourself with competing. You win some and you lose some,” he said with a smile.