The game festival EthycsCon began as a dream.
Organizer Jeremy Johnson said around the birthday of his late friend, St. Joseph resident Michael Parks, he imagined a big convention honoring him.
“It was just a big group of people in a room just playing video games and we were talking about Mike and how awesome it would be if he was here,” he said.
Shortly after Johnson had the dream, he called Mike’s friends and his mom to see if they could make it a reality.
Being held today and Saturday at the gaming store End Game, 1401 S. Belt Highway, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 11, at Cafe Acoustic Concert Hall, Parks’ memory will be honored with people getting together to play a variety of games, from cards to video games to “Nintendo Wii Golf.”
The convention is a celebration of everything Parks loved. An avid gamer since he was young, Parks died on June 22, 2018, due to complications from Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder of connective tissue in the body. Using the gamer tag “Ethycs,” he loved attending conventions like QuakeCon with Johnson because he was passionate about the communal aspects of gaming.
“I love the interaction, of having a room full of people just playing the same game and everybody having a fun time and just forgetting about life,” Johnson said.
In Parks’ life, he helped provide an escape for other people, including Johnson, as he introduced them to video games through his work at EB Games and Gamestop.
“There’s no other way to honor Mike. He lived and breathed it 24/7, 365 days a year. And I just don’t know of any other way to honor a man that was so (influential) in this community,” Johnson said.
While the event kicked off with a video game tournament last Saturday, it will continue with a “Bring Your Own Computer” event starting at 6 p.m. tonight at End Game, as well as a second day at the venue starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10.
EthycsCon will wrap up with a “Wii Golf Tournament” starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 11, at Cafe Acoustic Concert Hall. There is a $25 preregister fee and an at-door price of $40 per contestant. Spectators are welcome for free.
Johnson said he hopes the money generated from the event will eventually be enough to purchase video game consoles for local gamers to continue to pursue their craft, whether it’s for personal entertainment or the burgeoning Esports genre.
“I’d like to do this every year and have the high schools involved here in St. Joe. (We’d) have kids that play video games write an essay on what got them into video games, why they like video games and pick one from every school. And at next year’s event, have everybody (vote on the best),” he said.
In its debut year, the event is a test run to see the response it will get from the public. If it does well, Johnson hopes it will become an established tradition and wonderful tribute to a friend to many gamers in the area.
“(We want to) keep Mike’s legacy of being St. Joe’s video game person alive and well in St. Joe,” Johnson said.
For more information about registration for the events, visit ethycscon.com