By Eli Green
July 2, 2008 - 23:59
Amp Your Game, Canada's biggest video gaming tour is stopping in downtown Toronto this Thursday through Sunday at the Harbourfront Centre. Presented by Mountain Dew's Amp Energy drink, Amp Your Game is part game showcase, part tournament and part audition. While average visitors are checking out the gaming stations, registered players will be battling for various prizes, and the now sponsored gaming team North of 49, now the Amp Energy Pro Team – North of 49, will be playing against players hoping to fill the coveted fourth spot on their team.
I got the chance to go to the media preview for the event tonight, and check things out before it opens to the public tomorrow. The place is set to take in plenty of visitors from all around Toronto, and there is something for everyone there. Visitors will get the chance to play games on Wii, PSP, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, including a number of popular titles that have been out since early last year, and some fresh titles like Battlefield: Bad Company and Metal Gear Solid 4 . There are even two couches with high definition big screens set aside for gamers to rock out in Rock Band , Singstar or Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action.
Of course, if you're the spectator type, you'll want to check out the action in the tournament area, where players will be taking each other on for various prizes all weekend long. And be sure not to miss out on the Search for the Pro competition, where one person will win the fourth spot on the Amp Energy Pro Team – North of 49, and a sponsorship from Amp Energy.
I took the chance to speak to the members of North of 49 – Nelson “G-SpOt” Triana, Leo “Alpha XFactor” Vitelli and Bo “The Bo” Kovaceic – about getting sponsorship, tournament gaming in Canada and the search for their fourth member.
North of 49 has become the first Canadian video gaming team to receive such a large sponsorship. As Triana put it, it's not the first Canadian team to ever receive a sponsorship, but the first Canadian team to receive a sponsorship “of this magnitude”. “I'm sure there's other games, other teams that have been sponsored, but to be sponsored by a corporation like Amp Energy/Pepsi it's a big deal, for sure,” he said. “And we have Toshiba on board. I know, say for example, Samsung will sponsor World Cyber Games, but they don't sponsor teams. Whereas we have Toshiba on board, behind us, plus Amp Energy. So it's a big deal for sure. First of it's kind in Canada.”
Having a sponsorship has also made it considerably easier for the team to make their way to tournaments, as they noted, the toughest part about being tournament gamers, aside from the gameplay, is trying to get to tournaments, as traveling to the U.S. can be quite cost prohibitive. Vitelli, noting his shock at seeing how many people across the Canada actually would enter tournaments if given the chance said, “I think that's what's so amazing about this tour is, we're finding those players that you normally wouldn't find. We're coming to their home towns, or towns close to where they live, and they're able to get out to us because, like I was saying before, going to the States, it costs a pretty penny. You know? So I mean, for these players, for us to come to their city and have them come out, we're almost shocked. We're like, wow! Where have you been hiding all this time?”
One particular stop on the tour that surprised them the most was Halifax, as they weren't expecting very many, if any people to show up. Instead, they were greeted by an entire Halo playing community of gamers. “Just meeting the whole community that they have there,” noted Vitelli, speaking of Halifax as one of the highlights of the tour, “ We went and we practiced with some of their teams and, honestly, we met some really cool people in all of the cities, but Halifax was really cool because we got a chance to practice.”
The team is looking forward to meeting more member hopefuls and get closer to finding that one person to fill the spot over this weekend and the coming tournament stops. The team expects a large number of competitors and gaming fans at this stop on the tour, especially considering the numbers they said they've seen at each of the three previous stops. For more information on the Amp Your Game tour, check out www.ampenergy.ca.