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Otronicon 2009 Entertains Gamers from Jan. 16-20

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The fourth annual Otronicon premiered last night at the Orlando Science Center. This event, presented by Full Sail University, is home to a wide variety of flight and racing simulators, video games, and other gaming-related fun.

The event, which takes over many of the Orlando Science Center’s exhibit areas, began today (January 16, 2009) and runs through January 20 with operating hours of 10 a.m. – midnight today and Jan. 17 & 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Jan 18, 19, and 20.

Here is a photo tour of last night’s premiere event:

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (left, on stage) along with representatives from the Orlando Science Center, Full Sail University, and Orange County cut the ceremonial ribbon opening the show with (what else?) Guitar Hero guitars. It was definitely one of the more amusing ribbon-cutting ceremonies I’ve seen in the Orlando-area in a while.

The best flight simulator found at Otronicon lets gamers hop into a realistic aircraft cockpit, complete with accurate rudder, throttle, and joystick controls. The experience is powered by Microsoft Flight Simulator and, despite the relatively low-resolution graphics, is a fairly realistic simulation due to the accurate controls. I decided to move on after crashing my airplane somewhere in Downtown Orlando near what appeared to be a KFC restaurant.

Present at the Otronicon 2009 premiere were members of the 501st Legion, including this Stormtrooper and Tie Fighter pilot. I have a feeling that flying for the evil Galactic Empire is a bit more nerve-racking than hopping on a Microsoft-powered simulator.

This military shooting range simulation can actually be used to qualify personnel. The guns are heavy, have plenty of kickback, and even contain real magazines that need to be swapped out after every few shots when they’re “empty.” While I was relatively on-target during my shooting session, I didn’t quite qualify.

Hard Knocks, a laser tag gaming arena located just north of the University of Central Florida, has a demonstration area at Otronicon where you can equip yourself with a target-filled vest and try out one of their surprisingly heavy virtual weapons. This military man stepped over from his realistic shooting simulation to try out Hard Knocks’ not-so-realistic weapons and seemed disappointed to find out that he was supposed to shoot at another person, rather than at a screen. I suppose all of that military training to only fire at another human if absolutely necessary was kicking in.

Modern-day consoles with huge plasma displays are set up throughout several of the Orlando Science Center halls, giving attendees a chance to play Wii, XBox 360, and Playstation 3. In addition, older consoles like Super Nintendo and GameCube are also available for some retro gameplay.

But the best retro games can be found on the ground floor where the Classic Arcade Lounge offers free play on stand-up machines including Donkey Kong, Capcom Bowling, Popeye, and Sinistar.

In addition to all of the gaming, Otronicon also includes a few exhibits including this one called “Evolution of the Mac,” which features Apple products through the company’s history. When I saw the picture of Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the above table, all I could think was, “Get well soon.”

The coolest part of the Apple exhibit was this three-dimensional display. A miniature room contained a virtual man seemingly standing inside, telling visitors all about past Apple computers. It reminded me of the famous ballroom scene in The Haunted Mansion.

In addition to all of the above, the Otronicon is hosting workshops, presented by Full Sail University, in which attendees can learn about video game design. Video game-related films like Tron, WarGames, and Mortal Kombat are being shown throughout the event. Gaming competitions are also held during Otronicon so you can show off your Rock Band, Super Smash Brothers, or Pac Man skills.

Visit Otronicon.org for more information about the entire event.

Visit our Photo Gallery for more photos from the opening night.

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