The Escapist – the self-proclaimed “mouthpiece for the gaming generation” – is putting one one big party in Durham this weekend with games, concerts, zombies, a World Cyber Games event and more. Oh, and don’t forget: Geek Speed Dating.

It’s called The Escapist Expo.

And Alex Macris, publisher of Escapist as well as the mastermind behind the Durham-based company’s extravaganza, is expecting big crowds.

“Before the weekend is over, we expect 7,000 people through the doors,” Macris tells WRALTechWire.

That estimate is a big jump from last year’s total of 5,600.

The World Cyber Events showdown is likely to draw a lot of attention. The winner will soon head for an international final in Beijing, Macris points out.

As the following list of events indicates, and as Macris notes: “We have so much going on.”

Tickets start at $20, by the way, or $40 for a three-day pass.

Highlights as posted by The Escapist:

  • Boardgame and CCG Open Play Area

With the help of our partners Foam Brain Games, Expo 2013 will bring you our largest library of games, over 250 titles, to play for free! Tournaments, open play and learn to play sessions will happen throughout the weekend, along with late-night gaming until Midnight on Friday and Saturday nights!

For the full schedule of events please click here. For any questions regarding the schedule head on over to the Foam Brain Games booth adjacent to the Open Play Area. You must possess a picture ID to check any games out so make sure to bring yours!

  • Console Open Play Area

Carolina Games Summit offers your favorite console titles on Xbox 360 and PS3. Games will run all weekend long! The Console Open Play Area will be open from 10:00 a.m. to Midnight on Friday, 10:00 a.m. to Midnight on Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

  • Cosplay Contest

Bring your best cosplay, because the Escapist Expo Cosplay Contest is returning! The D20 Girls Project will be doing preliminary judging all day Saturday at their dedicated booth. Selected finalists will appear on the stage of Fletcher Hall at the Carolina Theater Saturday afternoon, where they will be judged by the D20 Girls and our very own Escapist personalities. There’s still time to sign up!

  • Expo Floor!

Enjoy 20,000 square feet of expo floor with video game companies, new game demos, comic and game dealers, merchandise, and more. The Expo Floor will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday.

  • Humans vs. Zombies

The only version of Tag that is officially sanctioned by FEMA for post-apocalyptic survival training*, Humans vs. Zombies pits an ever-shrinking number of heroic humans against the slavering horde of zombies. Armed only with your wits, will, your favorite Nerf gun and your explosive socks, can you survive the weekend? Humans v. Zombies will run all weeklong long, throughout the Expo, except for areas marked as off-limits. Registration will be on site at The Carolina Theater main lobby.

*DISCLAIMER: This statement is a complete fabrication. FEMA has actually sanctioned several types of post-apocalyptic survival training.

  • Magic: The Gathering Theros Sealed Deck Tournament

We are proud to welcome back Atomic Empire as the Magic tournament organizer for Expo 2013. All weekend long, we’ll have Learn to Play sessions, Mini Masters Sealed Tournaments, and Intro Deck Open Dueling for newcomers, as well as Theros Drafts for more advanced players, which can fire as often as every 30 minutes, depending on demand.

This year, the headline event, a Theros Sealed Deck Tournament, will take place on Saturday, October 5, starting promptly at 12 Noon in the Armory, just across the street from the Convention Center. Registration is available at the Armory all day Friday, and from 10am -11:30am Saturday. This is a Wizards of the Coast Premium tournament, with participants receiving triple Planeswalker Points!

  • Panels and Speakers

We’ll be featuring sessions and panels with your favorite stars from The Escapist, YouTube, and the game industry. Check out our Guests page for a list of all confirmed speakers, and check out our complete panel schedule.

  • RPG Tabletop Gaming

For your role-playing game and miniature enthusiasts, rejoice! We have 12 tables of tabletop action running all weekend long. Enjoy sessions of Pathfinder, D&D Next, Adventurer Conqueror King System, and other games. You can find the schedule of games and sign up to play at our Warhorn page!

  • Saturday Night Shindig at MOTORCO!

Doors open at 8:30 P.M. Saturday night at the MOTORCO Music Hall, just 3 blocks from the main Expo, Gavin “Miracle of Sound” Dunne and Random Encounter return to rock the Escapist Expo! We also welcome comedy troupe Warp Zone to their first Expo. Miracle of Sound and Random Encounter will play your favorites as well as their new music! Dress to impress. Or, at least, please wear clothes. Ages 18+ only, please have ID ready.

Random Encounter will be celebrating the release of their new album, Let Me Tell You a Story, at the Escapist Expo. For more info on the band or their album check out their website (which they promised us isn’t a dating site)!

  • Top Geek Trivia Challenge with The Charlotte Geeks

The Charlotte Geek’s, Goddess of Trivia, will test your knowledge of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Questions will be drawn from movies, books, TV, video games, and table top games. You can play by yourself or in teams of up to four people. Prizes will be awarded to the top scoring team. Come test your geek knowledge with The Charlotte Geeks Trivia Contest, and show everyone who are the Top Geeks.

Saturday – 7-9pm in Meeting Room 3-4

  • Traffic Light Board Game Night and Geek Speed Dating

CALLING ALL GEEKY SINGLES AND OTHERS! Tired of going to events and never being sure who is single and ready to mingle? Join us for a night of board games and low-key mingling! This event is open to all adults, but we will have a focus on singles this night. Come for some casual board game play, but for the more adventurous we will have a few speed mingling rounds for those that want a little one-on-one interaction. This won’t be your typical speed dating. We will provide a geeky twist

Friday – 7-9pm in Open Gaming Space