Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

PixelCon gathers gamers at Ferg


On Saturday, the Ferguson Center was taken over by television screens, gaming consoles, graphic posters and fans of the gaming world. Hundreds of “gamers” attended the second annual PixelCon gaming convention, a joint project of the University of Alabama’s ABXY Gaming Network and Creative Campus, as well as the Student Government Association and Housing Residential Communities.

The PixelCon gaming convention took place at the Ferguson Center from 10 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Saturday and included tournament play, discussion panels, an art display and various activities for attendees. A wide range of people attended, including many college students and video game fans from across the state.

And judging by the smiles of the gamers as they moved from room to room, the final product was a success.

“I think, so far, it’s a pretty big success,” said Erin Smelley, a senior and Creative Campus intern. “It was a lot of work, but it’s worth it when you see it come together.”

Activities ranged from open forum discussion topics such as “Are Zombies Here to Stay,” and rooms filled with flat-screen TVs for free play.

It was this wide range of activities that was one of the most appealing parts of the PixelCon tournament, according to freshmen engineering majors Chad Bonair, Lucas Thomas, Kyle Russell and John Skelton. The four freshmen, watching the games in the free play room, each expressed different interests in the video game world, yet were all positive about the Pixelcon convention.

“Honestly, we heard about it last minute and just decided to go,” Bonair said.

Thomas and Skelton said the casual competition of gaming is their favorite aspect of video games, while Russell said he enjoys the more technical side of video games.

“The graphics and technology are pretty impressive,” Russell said. “There are lots of sides to it.”

The technical side of gaming was well represented at the PixelCon tournament, most notably in the “Art Room,” dedicated solely to the art of video games and anime.  The art ranged from student drawings and cartoons to 3D “Mario” stand ups.

Another part of the convention was “cosplay,” a chance for attendees to dress as their favorite characters from their favorite video games or anime.

One group, the Alabama Ghostbusters Community, donned the familiar uniforms from the 1984 “Ghostbusters” movie. The organization travels around the area, often for charity events and conventions like PixelCon.

“We came out here for last year’s PixelCon and had a great time, so we decided to come back and promote both our group and PixelCon,” said Bo Bearden, a member of the Alabama Ghostbuster Community. “I grew up loving the movies, so this is like being a kid again – but to us, the main thing is community and charity.”

Serving the community has been an aim of both ABXY and Creative Campus in many of their events.

PixelCon, while free to attend, raised money through $5 tournament fees. The proceeds from the tournament fees, as well as the proceeds from the raffle, will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

“Late last year we had…Pixelthon, which was a 48-hour gaming marathon, also for the children of St. Jude’s,” said Neil Taylor, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering and astronomy and a member of the ABXY club who volunteered at PixelCon over the weekend.

Despite the activities, forums, fundraisers and interest booths, many guests said their favorite part of PixelCon was the opportunity to join with other gamers and fans of the community.

“I mean, most people play games by themselves in their rooms, and I think it’s better for everyone to get together,” said PixelCon attendee Jessica Pruitt. “It’s nice to…celebrate gaming.”

Ciara Deuter, a sophomore majoring in fashion retailing, agreed with Pruitt.

“I think it’s good for a large group of people who are kind of unrepresented in mainstream media to get together,” Deuter said. “We’re all on the same page with video games anyway, so it’s nice to discuss, ‘Hey, what are you playing?’ or ‘What games are your favorite?’”

And whether that sense of community includes debating the particulars of Pokémon battle tactics, or as Chad Bonair said, “getting online and screaming into my headset,” PixelCon provided those and other opportunities to the video game community.

More to Discover