RALEIGH – Fornite fever has officially hit Supercon. That’s not all that rocked Raleigh on Saturday. Autographs. Panel talks. Tons of the latest tech pop culture. But let’s start with Fortnite, the free game that has become so popular with more than 120 million players worldwide that sales of “skins” anc accessories for players has made Cary-based Epic Games an $8 billion company and its CEO and founder Tim Sweeney a billionaire (says Bloomberg news).

Starting early Saturday, fans flocked to the game room on the second floor of the Raleigh Convention Center to take part in the festival’s all-day Fornite competition.

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Garza family comes dressed in their favorite Fornite skins … Seth Garza, 9, as Abstract, father Chuck Garza, 37, as Sledgehammer, mother Tessa Bennet, 34, as a basic “noob”, with daughter Logan Garza, 3, as Wonder Girl.

Around the clock, both young and old gamers alike lined up to play for their highest score.

“There’s been quite a few decent players,” said Supercon volunteer Nathan MacMiller, 20, who spent the day managing the tournament. “It’s been great. The computers have always been filled up.”

A billion-dollar cultural phenomenon

Since Cary-based Epic Games launched the game in 2017, it’s become one of the most popular games in the world and a pop culture phenomenon, raking in multi-millions in profit.

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Fornite fever … Gamers flock to compete in Supercon’s all –day Fornite competition.

Benito Garza, a help desk specialist from Jacksonville, was among those who turned up to take part in the competition.

“I play it a lot,” said the 38 year old, who also brought his sons in tow – Versaille, 16, and Hadrien, 12. “Epic Games did a great job by making it free. Everybody got hooked.”

He added: “Because of the cartoonish aspects of it, it doesn’t seem too threatening to parents. I met people online as young as seven years old who can whip my tail pretty easily. It’s cross generational.”

Joseph Pichalsky travelled three hours with his gaming team from Lincolnton, just to compete.

“I play 58 hours in a week, about 10 hours a day,” said the 17 year old. “My parents are proud of me. I’m staying busy and out of trouble. I’m planning on enlisting in the military soon.”

Another Garza family from Fayetteville also came out in force, dressed in their favorite Fornite skins.

“I love that it’s a 100 player-versus-player game. You can run around and do whatever you want,” said Seth Garza, 9, who came as Abstract.

Standing next to him, his father, Chuck, 37, patiently waited in line dressed as Sledgehammer. “I like to play it because it’s something to do with my son,” he said.

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Keeping it playful … Xavier Graham (center) with his children, Madison, 4, and Xander, 6.

Getting up close with the stars

At the other end of the convention, pro-wrestling aficionados packed into one of the ballrooms for a panel discussion with Caleb Konley (Star-Lord) and Aeriel Monroe (Storm) from Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling (FSCW).

No question seemed too ridiculous, and the fans took advantage. “How much spring do you get from the floor?” one person shouted from the audience.

“It’s all me, baby,” replied Monroe to laughter.

Michael O’Keefe, 18, from Virginia, sat close to the front. “I’ve been watching wrestling since I was a little kid,” he said. “I got to watch both of them last night. It’s pretty cool to actually get a chance to talk to them now.”

Meanwhile, in the Dealers’ Room, crowds gathered to get photos taken with their favorite celebrities.

Pheobe Waldrop, 14, from Indian Trail, was among those who braved the lines to meet Sean Gunn from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Gilmore Girls.”

“I just said ‘Hi, I love you’. He loved my shirt because it has a Gilmore Girls reference,” she said. “I got the combo – the photo and the autograph, so it was $50.”

Judging by her smile, she thought it was a deal.

Supercon isn’t over, by the way. A full schedule of events is set for Sunday.