Greg Richardson met me just after 1pm. He greeted me with a big smile and firm handshake after I flagged him down from across the restaurant. We quickly got down to talking about his company, Colorado Cutthroat Connection.
Greg is originally from Philadelphia, though he attended Wheat Ridge and later University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Gaming had always been a part of his life, starting out like some many of us, playing Nintendo franchises. He was specifically interested in the 16 bit rpg classics from Squaresoft, Final Fantasy. Years later after being slightly jilted when the series moved to the Sony Playstation, a temporary hiatus on single player games was invoked. While in college a friend introduced Greg to the game Tekken, and it was love at first fight. The capoeira styled fighter in the game, Eddie Gordo, hypnotized Greg. Shortly thereafter, he discovered that there was a competitive play community.
“ I thought I was good, but then I meet this guy who completely destroyed me, like 50 games straight. I was like, how does he know all this stuff? He let know about the competitive scene.”
On the competitive scene Greg took up the username DancingFighterG. He took this name to reflect the styles of the virtual characters he would play in competition, and the G is of course for Greg. After going to EVO (Evolution Championship Series, the longest fighting game tournament in the world) Greg was inspired.
“I was blown away, but in the same token I thought, ‘what they are doing here, I can do in Colorado.’”
When he returned to Colorado he got right to work by organizing the then named, Colorado Cutthroat Console tournament. In conjunction with his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, he used the fighting tournaments as fundraisers. He debuted his local tournament at a Game Force with 100 people attending. Seeing that people were interested he decided to start having these events several times a year. By the end of his college career the events were drawing over 500 people every time.
“When I moved back to Denver, I wanted to give it a purpose.”
Since 2006 Greg has grown his company, now called Colorado Cutthroat Connection through sponsorships with Gamestop, University of Colorado and Westwood College. Colorado Cutthroat Connection (C3) uses the gaming tournaments as platform to introduce gamers to the different professional aspects of the industry. C3 caught the attention of several groups hosting tournaments in other states. Seeing the success of C3, the groups shared resources and formed the National Video Game Association.
Chances are if you have attended any gaming tournament in Denver, C3 has been involved. C3 and the National Video Game Association (NVGA) have also become the regulators of gaming rooms at animé conventions in the chapter states (Colorado, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Georgia, Texas and most recently Nevada). Each event strives to bring together the sympathetic communities of artists, game developers, writers, etc.
“Events like these give gamers a chance to see how everything intertwines. You can be an artist and be in the game industry, you can be a game developer, game tester or in marketing. You don’t have to know how to program games to be a part of the game industry. There’s a niche for everyone.”
Tournaments by nature are competitive. C3 is no exception in that regard, though the casual gamer is encouraged and welcomed at the events. All event attendees get their money’s worth at an event at the door with a grab bag. In addition to the hardcore tournaments there are casual gaming rooms and friendly competition for prizes. Gamers also get the opportunity to see new games and meet people from the industry. Team Ninja showed off a demo of Ninja Gaiden 3 at a recent NVGA event, giving the average gamer a chance to see and play the new game months before the general public.
NVGA and C3 also contribute to the community outside of educating gamers on prospective career paths. In conjunction with Kotaku and Death of the Arcade, C3 held a fundraiser for Japanese relief after the earthquake. The benefit was held in downtown Denver at Cervantes Masterpiece Theatre and also benefited The Children’s Hospital.
C3 and NVGA is a grassroots organization that continues to grow through the communities that support it. They are actively seeking sponsorships and investors to continue to bring gamers together under the same roof.
For more information about upcoming events head over to www.coloradocutthroat.com.