By Juan Calvillo
Las Vegas was home to the 2019 LVL Up Expo which showcased video games and pop culture, similar to the East Los Angeles College Gaming Club does on campus. Elements from professional wrestling, video games, anime androbotics were major highlights of the three-day event.
The nonprofit convention says online that it strives to create an “unforgettable experience that blends old school, recent, and future gaming with special guest performances, exciting interactive events, and challenging tournaments.” This year’s event was filled to the brim with just that.
One of the biggest interactive spectacles over the weekend was Las Vegas’s Versus Pro Wrestling. The company works to entertain people through private events and this weekend at LVL Up Expo.
The matches were fierce and fast, with fans cheering on the wrestlers during each event. The highlight of Saturday was the six tag teams that competed for the LVL Up Expo tag team titles. The large roster of individuals is reminiscent of matches that video game fans see when they play wrestling games at home.
Video games have become one of the biggest pastimes for people, including East Los Angeles College’s Gaming Club. Home video game consoles have been around since the 1970’s. Video game companies like Atari, Nintendo and Sony have put out numerous games.
The expo had sections representing these games from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the current generation of virtual reality games. Juan Carlos Serrano-Flores, a member of the ELAC Gaming Club, talked about the games that the club members play like “Super Smash Bros.” Serrano-Flores said that in his perspective, high level video game franchises have slowly lost their luster and that other franchises are starting to step up their game in the absence of the higher level games.
His take is also seen in the current climate of video games. Where once triple A titles ruled gaming award shows, it is the Indie gaming scene that has sprung to life.
One such company is Whim Independent Studios. Started by Grover Wimberly IV as a project in college, he filled his company with close friends from high school.
Their first project was “Selatria: Advent of the Dakkrian Empire” a role playing game. The game has gone on to six parts with three already available on the PC gaming platform Steam.
Both Wimberly and Paul Vela, the teams’ co-founder and Administrative Director, had similar sentiments on what they love about having friends as part of their companies team. Vela felt the chance to help his high school friends grow and mature in the gaming industry was great.
“Seeing them happy, seeing them do what they want to do, that’s my stake in this company,” Vela said.
The Expo also had one very interesting interactive section in Sunrise Mountain High School Robotics Club. The club brought multiple remote controlled robots as well as its entry into the “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” robotics competition.
The “FIRST” robotics competition tasks high school students with building, programming and branding an industrial level robot. Guillermo Guevara, a 2016 graduate from Sunrise Mountain and now a mentor to the current high school club, said that the program had made a huge impact on the high school.
He said that the school came to realize how important the club was when they could “see scraps of metal and electronics become something functional.”
The LVL Up Expo had space for these and many other exhibits and booths. At its core, the expo was about the chance for people to come together and seeing the fun people can have with technology and interactivity.
This idea is very similar to what Serrano-Flores said was a function of the ELAC Gaming Club. The club members are “just there to have a good time and destress school wise.”