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LanDiego State 5 Expected To Bring Hundreds Of Gamers To SDSU For Tournament

Six tournaments, 10 hours of gaming, $2,000 in prizes

KPBS arts and culture reporter Beth Accomando looks to San Diego's fighting game community and an upcoming tournament at SDSU.


Companion viewing

"Street Fighter" (1994)

"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" (2007)

"The Smash Brothers" (2013)

"The Lost Arcade" (2016)

San Diego State will play host Saturday to hundreds of gamers for LanDiego State 5. But San Diego is also host to a growing fighting game community.

Richard Clink drives more than an hour from Oceanside to come down to LanDiego on Black Mountain Road for a Street Fighter V gaming tournament that takes place every Monday. Then he makes the hour trek back home around 1 a.m. That's dedication.

"This is LanDiego Lounge, or as we like to call it, the San Diego fighting game community. 'Cause we’re not just gamers, we’re not just playing games, we’re a community," Clink said.

Unlike "Fight Club", the fighting game community is more than willing to talk about what they do.

Paul Hoffman works at LanDiego and organizes tournaments for "Smash Brothers" each week.

"When the scene first started — I’ve been around for many years — it was definitely more grassroots," Hoffman said. "We would be having tournaments in people’s houses and people were hauling around monitors. Now attendance has gone up, especially with the advent of the internet. It’s so much easier to connect with people and when you have something like Facebook it’s easy to do events so attendance has skyrocketed."

Up to 60 people partake in LanDiego Lounge’s weeknight gaming tournaments that go until 1 a.m.

"I feel like what we provide is a space for people to interact with each other. You come out, you meet some friends," tournament organizer Kevin Serrano said. "I feel like that interaction is the greatest experience."

Serrano also runs an eSports (electronic sports) organization at San Diego State.

Wade Barnes is another tournament organizer. He walks through the 1,100-square-foot offices to describe the venue.

"Over here to our left we have one of our main areas where people hang out. As you can see we generally fit six to seven people [in a room] and all across the venue we have four 43-inch monitors that we constantly stream the main game out on to watch," Barnes said.

And along with the gaming there are people calling play-by-play for a live stream going out to

Photo caption: Ilija Bibic announcing one of the match-ups at LanDiego Lounge's "Street Figh...

Photo by Beth Accomando

Ilija Bibic announcing one of the match-ups at LanDiego Lounge's "Street Fighter V" tournament, April 12, 2016.

"It’s kind of like sports announcing," Ilija Bibic said. "You look at what’s going on on the screen and you are trying to analyze what both players are doing. You want to give feedback to both the players and the audience on what’s happening in the match. It goes on so anybody can view it when we go live and even if you can’t view it live you can view the archives via Twitch."

"When you see Amazon buy Twitch, a game streaming platform, for a little under a billion dollars, that’s not because it’s some niche market any more," Cole Van Hoogenstyn said. The UC San Diego student was enjoying a Street Fighter V tournament at LanDiego Lounge.

"If a mom is playing 'Angry Birds' every day or if she’s playing 'Trivia Crack' or something while she waits to pick up her kids, is she a gamer? I don’t think she would classify herself as a gamer but she plays for 30 to 40 minutes everyday. I think there are people who play games, I think the word gamer is archaic."

But how about the word e-athlete?

"Now it is an electronic sport," Serrano said. "I believe at some point we will recognize that these people who play video games they are athletes — a mental athlete, where they have such knowledge and such reactions that they are able to play this game at one of the highest levels."

"Because it comes down to studying literally frame data for this game because that character’s move takes 3/60 of a second, I should do option X instead of Y and Z," Van Hoogenstyn said. "The training that goes into this is just as demanding as like a sport. You’re not going to have to go to the gym and condition yourself but the mental dexterity is there, the strategies are there, the preparation is there for sure."

Photo caption: One of LanDiego Lounge's "Smash Brothers" gaming tournaments, April 12, 2016.

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

One of LanDiego Lounge's "Smash Brothers" gaming tournaments, April 12, 2016.

And like athletes they can get pretty emotional when they play.

"The word is salt," Serrano said. "A person gets 'salty' is the term that’s slang for the fighting game community, like oh he just got really salty."

Some of the players at LanDiego Lounge are in training for LanDiego State 5 that takes place on Saturday at San Diego State’s Montezuma Hall. It will offer six tournaments, 10 hours of gaming, and more than $2,000 in prizes.

The LanDiego Lounge hosts gaming tournaments from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. most weeknights.

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