Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Just as Megan Wood hoped, last weekend’s brought a lot of attention to the Triangle’s emerging video game industry.

Wood tells The Skinny that some 400 people participated in the various game and accessory-related events as well as a live tournament featuring Cary-based Epic Games’ multi-million seller “Gears of War 2.”

Wood conceived gamingSPARK as an addition to the annual SPARKcon festival and lined up speakers as well as sponsors. The business development manager at Durham-based Themis Group, which publishes the gaming web site magazine is so pleased that she hopes to put on another event in 2010.

“Overall, we felt the event was a great success and received very positive feedback from the antedees, participants, and volunteers,” Wood explained. “We are extremely grateful to The Escapist, GameFrog, Alpha Marketing, Integrated Audio Video, Triangle Game Initiative, and SPARKcon.

Video game development is one of the most important elements of the creative community residing in the Triangle, and we were extremely pleased to have GamingSPARK take its rightful place in SPARKcon.”

The Gears tournament certainly was one of the highlights, especially since the winner received a 32-inch Hitachi LCD 1.5-inch thin TV from Integrated VideoAudio as well as a signed copy of Gears from Epic.

Wood invited gaming companies and aspiring entrepreneurs to participate. Alex Lian, a student at Duke, demonstrated his Alii Motion Technology (think Wii), and a team of nine N.C. State students working together as PiRadical Studios showed off “Spectral Assault.”

The Escapist, meanwhile, showed off some of its video-related content.

“The Escapist area constantly had people at it;” Wood said. “I’m sure that had something to do with the TV playing popular shorts and creative content like ‘Zero Punctuation,’ ‘There Will Be Brawl,’ and ‘Apocalypse Lane.’”

So, what happens next year? Wood isn’t quite sure yet.

“In the upcoming months we plan to sit down, discuss it further, and see what our schedule for next year looks like’” she said.

If there is another gamingSPARK, will there be any changes?

“We can’t say just yet,” Wood said. “First we need to recover from all the fun times at gamingSPARK and SPARKcon!”

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