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1-10 tech con

Students at Oregon Tech gather around video game consoles for Tech Con – an annual Comic-Con style event held at the OIT College Union that is open for students and the public Jan. 19-20.

For two days, Oregon Tech’s college union gets transformed into a welcoming cavalcade of chaos, a grand gathering of geekiness and nerd culture for a Comic Con event filled with fun activities.

Begun out of necessity because the winter term lacked a large themed event for the Oregon Tech Housing and Residence Life staff and students, Tech Con was initiated as a student-only two-day celebration over the extended Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend incorporating some of the things current college students at a tech school love most – video games, board games, and the various geeky things often associated with Comic Cons.

Version upgrade

Last year, Tech Con for the first time was opened up to the public as well, setting records for attendance and activities. This year, organizers hope to expand on what worked in 2018’s rendition, while adding yet more opportunities to revel in the joys of a Comic Con.

Tech Con will be held Jan. 19-20 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. both days, filled with vendors, contests, cosplay, and many ways in which to play. There will be a casino area with poker, roulette and craps. Also an art wall filled with hand-drawn and computer-generated art. Vendors will offer up board games, video games, and other geeky goodies. There will be BINGO and trivia contests themed around Marvel comics and Star Wars. A cosplay competition will award prizes for best costumes.

Ready player ...

And then there are the games — so many games, of every conceivable variety, past and present. Expanding on last year’s offerings, multiple areas of the College Union will be transformed into gaming centers. A free-play LAN tournament area will be overseen by Oregon Tech Gaming Society providing chances for people to compete in popular games like Overwatch, League of Legends, Rainbow 6 and Super Smash Bros. The top players will then participate in an on-stage competition in the OIT auditorium for prizes.

A separate console gaming area will allow free play on modern systems for some of the most popular video games today. A third designated conference room will become a veritable video gaming museum, filled with retro gaming consoles stretching as far back as the 1970s to present day, from beloved classics to incredibly obscure oddities from the past.

Blast from the past

The retro gaming exhibit will be even larger than the space designated for October’s Comic Con at the Klamath County Library, with over 25 different gaming systems ranging from the earliest pong consoles of the 1970s to virtual reality and interactive games up to modern high-definition systems. The veritable interactive museum will allow visitors to play through the history of video games.

“It was intended for students for that awkward break because of the holiday where they are off four days after being on campus for only two weeks,” said Sydney Nett, senior resident advisor for OIT Housing and Residence Life. “Last year we opened it up to the community and everyone had a great time, the community members really bring an awesome energy to it. We had people come from Ashland and Medford for cosplay contents, and we broke records.”

With lessons learned from last year, planning for Tech Con has started earlier than ever before for the 2019 rendition in hopes of drawing even larger crowds. Partnerships with on-campus clubs and community groups has expanded, including Klamath Basing Gaming providing an extensive array of tabletop games and accessories available for purchase, and a large board game area to be operated by CIA Gaming.

The nerdy side

“Tech Con is a great way to experience the nerdier side of Oregon Tech,” added Nett. “For the people who come this is like Christmas for them. For students on campus who aren’t into basketball or other big events, this is something that I’ve found a lot of people are very passionate about. Everyone is really excited to teach people about this stuff; they will include you, teach you about it, and show why it’s fun. It is a great way to get people out of their rooms to find something to do over that long weekend.”

Free snacks and drinks will be available throughout both days, and several eateries located within the OIT College Union will also be open.

“This is our chance to open up to the public and invite people in to show why OIT is awesome and Tech Con is awesome, they can hang out all weekend,” said Nett.

email kliedtke@heraldandnews.com @kliedtkeHN

Staff reporter for the Herald and News.