Gousset prepares for national video game contest

Published 12:12 am Monday, August 27, 2007

NATCHEZ — Qualifying to play in a national video game competition may be exciting for Natchez resident Brandon Gousset, but by his own account gaming hasn’t been a lifelong passion.

The 28-year-old physical education teacher, who works at Ridgecrest Elementary, said he played on the Atari system when he was young, but had all but given up video games by the time he got to high school.

In fact, it wasn’t until after college, when he had accepted an assistant coaching job at Huntington School in Ferriday that Gousset picked up the controller again.

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Then, last year Gousset saw the national finals for the World Cyber Games on television and decided to try out for this year’s comeptition in his game of choice, Project Gotham Racing Three.

Playing his way through the qualifiers online with his Xbox Live system, Gousset — using the handle TKRG00SE — worked his way through a field of 30 until only four remained.

“When I found out I could play the game against other people online, I really got into it because I’m a big competitor,” he said.

When the field was narrowed down to four quarter-finalists, they headed to Dallas to compete with each other in person to determine who would go to the national competition.

Gousset said the competition was not between a bunch of stereotypical over-caffeinated teenage gamers, but that at 28 he was the youngest of the male competitors in Dallas.

“The youngest at the competition was a girl who was 21, but the two other guys were in their upper 30s,” he said. “The Xbox Live median age is 30.”

In the Dallas competition, Gousset finished second, giving him a ticket to the nationals in Orlando.

Because of the Xbox Live online structure, Gousset said he has played everyone in the competition before, and five or six of them play together at some point in a given week.

Gousset’s current win-loss record stands at 16-4, and if he places in the top two in Orlando, he can advance to the international championship in Seattle.

“The World Cyber Games bill themselves as the olympics of professional gaming,” he said. “I’m happy I’ve made it.”