FLORENCE, S.C. — Over the past two years, Lake City has begun investing in competitive video gaming, or esports, as one of many efforts to keep young people away from crime.
Friday and Saturday marked the city’s most visible investment in the program yet: a convention highlighting video gaming and other types of pop-culture entertainment. The Anime, Gaming and Entertainment Convention, shortened to A.G.E. Con, saw young children, teenagers and adults alike show up to play video games, shop at booths and listen to talks from industry professionals.
“A lot of times, the kids can’t even leave Lake City,” said Savon Whitehead, esports and events coordinator. “People should go to conventions because they’re a great learning experience. You meet new people. You build friendships. It’s just an overall great time, so why not bring it to them?”
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The convention was held at the R.O.B. in Lake City, and tickets started at $20 for daily general admission, with kids 12 and under getting in free.
Booths selling old video games, trading cards and anime merchandise, along with tables holding powerful desktop computers and video game consoles, formed aisles throughout the R.O.B.
In the back, a stage was set up for a number of different industry professionals who came to speak about their experiences and take questions from the audience. One such professional was Tiffany Grant, the voice actor best known for playing Asuka in the English dub of the anime Evangelion.
In the front, attendees with virtual reality headsets and controllers jumped around, lost in their virtual world. Nearby, people cosplaying as