LAKE CITY, S.C. (WBTW) — Gamers from all over will be converging on Lake City later this month for a new esports event.

A.G.E. Con, which is short for Anime, Gaming, Entertainment Convention, spans the genres of anime, gaming and pop culture with tabletop games, a retro arcade, virtual reality experiences and industry panels as well as several gaming tournaments.

Organizers said the idea for the two-day event at The ROB on S. Church Street, grew from the 2021 and 2022 Smackdown tournaments that did well but didn’t have much for the community beyond participating players.

“It’s now more about the culture is more about the atmosphere, and we’re making it as accessible as possible for everyone,” said Savon Whitehead, the coordinator of esports in Lake City. “That’s, of course, across all ages, hence the name ‘AGE’ con. The main focus of this convention is to really get the community more involved, more engaged, give Lake City its own identity and have something that they can claim as their own.”

The popularity of esports has surged in recent years, and Whitehead said it’s more than video games.

“There’s so much more to it than just playing video games that any child or adult for that matter, can really pick up a new skill, a new hobby, and really use that to their advantage,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead, who’s also known as the “Duke of Hype,” said esports events like A.G.E. Con also help keep kids out of trouble by giving them something to do in their free time.

“If the children don’t have any type of afterschool activities, any extracurricular things to do, or if they don’t have anywhere really to ‘hang out’ at, what are they going to do? he said. “Because let’s just be honest, at the end of the day, what would you rather have? Would you rather have your child sitting at home playing video games, streaming, communicating with people or the outside world, or have them out in the streets doing something they got no business doing?”

Not only that, skills teamwork and communications skills acquired through esports are easily transferrable to the working world, Whitehead said. Plus, there are jobs available in everything from streaming to commentating, programming and coaching.

Whitehead said he is excited by A.G.E. Con, which is scheduled for Aug. 18-19, but there’s more in store for Lake City, he said.

“I was trying to keep it on the on the ‘hush hush’, but we have a league that we’re going to be starting shortly after the convention, and the league is going to be something that also ties into Lake City, making Lake City more prominent in the area.”

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Taylor Maresca is the weekend morning anchor and morning reporter at News13. She joined the team in June 2022 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Taylor is from Houston. Follow Taylor on Twitter and read more of her work here.