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Gamers Descend Upon Lawton

LAWTON, Okla_For ten bucks gamers from all over Southwest Oklahoma got the opportunity to put their name on the map on Saturday.

It was a tournament for the video game 'Call of Duty'. But this isn't your mama's video game. The once pastime has developed into a full fledged professional event, and the Lawton- Fort Sill community is making its mark in the gaming world.

Dozens of guys and girls of all ages congregated at the Great Plains Coliseum to put their skills to the test and collect on some major prizes. 

Don Brown was one of the original masterminds behind starting gaming tournaments in Lawton.

"We looked at it, and was like why can't we do this here? There's no reason why we can't. There's a need, there's a want. We have the equipment. We have the personnel, " Brown said.

And now seven tournaments later, here they are. Packed into a room teeming with gamers. And they look at it not just as an opportunity to let kids play a game they love but to give them a positive alternative.

"It's getting them off the streets and indoors and playing a little bit of video games. Having a good time doing it, " explained Brown.

Gamer Austin Leighton or 'Pop-tart' as he's known in the XboX community has been competitively gaming for 2 years, and he even plays with a team. He says it's so much more than winning and losing.

"We go over strategies, and we communicate as a team. It gets a little late, and it gets really boring sometimes it really does, but you put in the effort to come here and show off what you've accomplished, " Leighton said.

"We've got gamers here from Tulsa, Oklahoma City, as far away as Dallas that have come to compete in the tournament. It's a good warm-up, and it is recognized in the gaming community, " Brown said.

And don't think for a second this is just limited to teenage boys. There were adults and even girls taking part in the action.

"I do it. It's not like a guy thing. Like girls can do it too. Like it's not that hard, " said gamer Chelsey Reyna.

And whether they took home the cash or got eliminated in their first heat surprisingly the biggest draw for most of the gamers was meeting all the people. They say gaming is no longer an isolating hobby but a burgeoning form of social networking.

"Whenever you're online you don't necessarily meet everyone in your region, and so coming here and seeing all these Oklahoma gamers it really gives you more of a perspective on like how many people want to come here and want to show their potential, " explained Austin Leighton.
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