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'We're having a blast': Canada's biggest gaming convention in Edmonton for the weekend

Game Con Canada in Edmonton on Friday June 14, 2024. (Galen McDougall/CTV News Edmonton) Game Con Canada in Edmonton on Friday June 14, 2024. (Galen McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)
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Video, board and card games are all on offer as Game Con Canada takes over the Edmonton Expo Centre for three days.

The convention gives people the chance to see and play hundreds of games from video game studios and board game developers from around the world, according to the event's co-founder.

Cosplay, Esports, trading card games and role-playing games are also on display.

"We're having a blast," said Marc Belisle, co-founder of Game Con Canada. "This is a massive, massive show. Our company does a lot of large scale events across Alberta, and this is by far the biggest."

Over $10,000 in cash and prizes is available in the cosplay competition as is around $20,000 in prize money through various Esports competitions. These tournaments include Street Fighter, Valorant. and League of Legends

Plus, if you want to shop, games, miniatures, clothing, art and more are up for sale.

Panels, workshops and meet-and-greet sessions are also happening. Some of the guests in attendance are local television and voice actor Mark Meer, known for Mass Effect and Dragon Age, Noura Ibrahim, known for Cyberpunk Red and Black Dice Society, and Ray Fisher, known for Justice League and Rebel Moon.

Players playing a demo of Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2 at Game Con Canada in Edmonton on Friday June 14, 2024. (Galen McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)

Esports have been growing in popularity in recent years. NorQuest College set up a booth to promote the school's Esports program.

"We've been engaging with various high schools to share with them the opportunity for kids to learn about the digital interactive media space," said Jackie Nguyen, the manager of business enterprises at NorQuest. "Kids want to learn how to become a streamer to share their passion with the world, how to create digital art, and we want to make sure that they're well equipped with coaching opportunities so that they can level up their game."

The Lotus Eight Esports organization based in Manitoba is also at Game Con, promoting mental health awareness in the sport.

"I always tell our students here that if you're calm at a high level of pressure in eSports, you'll be number one, making the right choices for yourself," said Steven Vuong, with Lotus Eights.

"If we take care of our mental health, we will be the best version of ourselves."

Just like physical sports, the key to succeeding in Esports is taking breaks, finding your weakness and training, according to Vuong.

The message that gaming is for anyone of any age, whether it be for fun or as a career is something Belisle wants to get across.

"This is the reason why we have our school partners here, so that they can show people there is a path into technology, into 3D rendering, into game development, into Esports," said Belisle. "Having all the kids around to discover this is one of the biggest things we're proud of."

In addition to the Esports competitions, there are also tournaments for card games, including Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering and One Piece.

Players of tabletop games like Warhammer 40K, Conquest and Judgement: Eternal Champions also have space to game, with events for old and new players alike.

Game Con Canada will also take place in Edmonton in 2025 and 2026.

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