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Parker Games welcomes Minecraft fans to Super League gaming event in Chicago

They came from near (Andersonville) and far (Geneva) and everywhere in between, for one reason.

Okay, actually two.

Kids (and their parents) flocked to AMC River East 21 today with laptops in tow to play Minecraft, and meet Minecraft YouTuber Parker Games (he’s got more than 10 million subscribers!). It was all part of  Super League Gaming’s Minecraft summer tour.

“They are the awesomest, most supportive people in the world!,” Parker beamed of his fans, flashing his trademark megawatt smile as he greeted and took photos with the more than 70 kids who had purchased tickets for the event. “I’m 20 years old and play Minecraft for a living, and that’s the coolest thing in the world!”

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Super League Gaming brings Minecraft to area theaters

The tour brings together kids (generally ages 7 to 14) to play Minecraft via their laptops and one of the theater’s big screens. The 25​-city tour runs through Aug. 26 and spreads the word about official Super League Gaming league play, which starts with consecutive 6­-week sessions on September 14. (Visit superleague.com for more details on the league.)

Minecraft gamers from across the Chicago area make new friends at the Super League Gaming tour stop at AMC River East. | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Minecraft gamers from across the Chicago area make new friends at the Super League Gaming tour stop at AMC River East. | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Though one aspect of the game (survival mode) includes the demise of fellow players, Parker said: “It’s very creative game. You can… build these amazing structures. The coolest thing I ever built was this huge underwater structure and then the world corrupted and I lost it all! I cried a little on the inside [laughs] but then you move on and build even cooler things! That’s what’s so much fun about the game.”

Super League Gaming brings Minecraft to local theaters for gaming events. | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Super League Gaming brings Minecraft to local theaters for gaming events. | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Super League Gaming president and COO Brett Morris, on hand for the Chicago event explained: “All of us [including league co-founders David Steigelfest and John Miller] are fathers of gamers, and as dads we see the benefits of a social atmosphere for after school activities for kids, whether it’s ballet or baseball. And we realized real quick there wasn’t that social environment for gamers. We really wanted to be the minor league or Little League of gaming, if you will. There was this huge range of kids from different skill levels and ages that didn’t have a place of belonging in the gaming world in terms of leagues, especially for kids. Ultimately theaters became the perfect place for this project, and the three biggest chains, Regal, AMC and Cinemark, along with the luxury theater chain iPic, came on board.”

Evan Hill, 11, of Batavia, said the attending the event was his birthday present from his mom. When asked what he liked most about Minecraft, the young gamer said: “I like the fun and freedom of it. I like the survival mode because of the challenges.”

The Minecraft tour stops are also a great place for gamers to meet fellow players from across town or across the country, many of whom only know each other via social media.

Stephanie Odeshoo, 16, and Nicole Capesiuis, 16, both of Arlington Heights, met fellow gamers Sophie Nunez, 13, of Geneva, Corra Palecki, 16 of Andersonville, and Kayleen Haile, 13, of DeKalb, for the first time while waiting for the event to begin.

“We met in the lobby here,” Odeshoo said. “It’s so cool. Everyone was in a circle on the floor talking about Minecraft. It was just a bunch of people from all over who met up here. And we absolutely came to meet Parker! I think I’m gonna faint!”

Stephanie Odeshoo, 16, (from left), Nicole Capesius, 16, Sophie Nunez, 13, Corra Palecki, 16 and Kayleen Haile, 13, attend a Super League Gaming in-theater event on Tuesday, July 8, 2015, at   AMC River East.  | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Stephanie Odeshoo, 16, (from left), Nicole Capesius, 16, Sophie Nunez, 13, Corra Palecki, 16 and Kayleen Haile, 13, attend a Super League Gaming in-theater event on Tuesday, July 8, 2015, at AMC River East.
| MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Lucas Ashorian, 11 (from left), Michael Ahsorian, 7, and Andrew Ahsorian, 9, of Lincolnwood, concentrate on their Minecraft gameplay at AMC River East on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Lucas Ashorian, 11 (from left), Michael Ahsorian, 7, and Andrew Ahsorian, 9, of Lincolnwood, concentrate on their Minecraft gameplay at AMC River East on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Game play lasts 100 minutes. “The main trend we’re seeing on the tour is that it’s impossible to get kids OUT of the theater once it’s over,” Morris said with a chuckle. “They’re so used to gaming in a more solitary environment in their homes, with maybe one or two other kids that they get super excited about the theater setting with maybe 70 or 100 other avatars in play.

“So you have the first-person view in front of you and a whole third-person view on the big screen,” Morris explained. What they see on their laptops [iPad play is not yet available] is the traditional view of what you see at home. On the big screen it’s an overview of the entire playing field. So when we get into the ‘Hunger Games,’ for example, they’ll see 100 other avatars on the screen.”

Eddie Franco, 6, and his sister Christina, 12,  are all smiles as they play Minecraft at a Super League Gaming in-theater tour stop at AMC River East theaters on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.  | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Eddie Franco, 6, and his sister Christina, 12, are all smiles as they play Minecraft at a Super League Gaming in-theater tour stop at AMC River East theaters on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. | MIRIAM DI NUNZIO/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

If you missed today’s event, you can catch the tour at the following places in the coming days (Tickets are $20 per player; parents can attend for free).

—July 28: ­ C​inemark Louis Joliet Mall

—July 29: ­ iPic Bolingbrook

—July 28: ­ AMC South Barrington 30

—July 29: ­ Cinemark Century 16 Deer Park

—July 29: ­ R​egal Cinemas Lincolnshire 21 & IMAX

League play launches in September; sign-ups begin the first week of August at superleague.com. The cost for the competitive league is $120 for six weeks (includes T-shirt). There will be a leaderboard, and individuals as well as teams (in the U.S. and across the globe), will see their scores reflected on the board. There will be a prize awarded at the end of the season.

When it comes to Minecraft’s appeal, Morris said: “It’s 50-50. That’s one of the plusses of launching with Minecraft — it speaks to both boys and girls and a wide range of ages.”

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