Orlando Science Center Uses Video Game Expo to Showcase Technology Careers to Nearly 10,000

By D. Channing Muller January 19, 2010, 3:30 PM EST

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Photo: Brandon Dowling for BizBash

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The Orlando Science Center wrapped up its fifth annual gaming expo, Otronicon, on Monday. The four-day event, which began on Friday, showcased the relationships between science, art, and technology with video games, simulators, and other digital media.

“We want to get out to the community the focus of education technology simulation and we offer it through the doorway of video games so that parents and kids, when they are sitting for hours a day with a game, can see the areas they can go into for a career,” said the center’s director of special events, Jim Lee. “It’s showing another career aspect to the video game world than just creating the new Madden Football.”

The center, along with its 13 game company partners, set up more than 150 gaming stations, simulators, and interactive exhibits throughout the four floors of the science center. Nearly 10,000 people stopped by the expo to check out the gaming technology, which ranged from classic arcade games to newer products like Wii. Additionally, presenting sponsor Full Sail University hosted a series of workshops throughout the weekend that gave attendees an in-depth look at how video games are designed.

Otronicon organizers also added multiple new elements this year. “We want to keep adding new things to keep the event interesting and show how [the games and simulators] are impacting our culture as well as our jobs and education,” Lee said.

In the Medical Sim City area, Florida Hospital showcased its da Vinci Robot, which allows doctors to use remotely controlled arms to perform surgeries. U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines representatives also held demonstrations of its robots, remote-controlled vehicles, and training simulators.

New events this year included the inaugural video game costume competition on Friday night that saw 30 people dressed up as video game characters compete for the title and gaming gift cards. Then on Saturday, the science center combined Otronicon with its quarterly Cocktails & Cosmos networking party for the first time. The after-hours party, which wrapped up at midnight, brought nearly 1,000 people from local businesses to the venue for a night of fashion shows, live music, and tapas and specialty cocktails from Aramark.

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