Durham museum celebrates N.C.'s video game industry

Posted September 12, 2010 10:52 a.m. EDT

— Scifi pop culture and North Carolina's video-gaming industry are being celebrated at the Museum of Life and Sciences in Durham this weekend.

The museum's second "Heroes, Villains and Special Effects" event features demonstrations from local gaming companies Virtual Heroes, Red Storm Entertainment and Merscom; Emmy Award-winning make-up artist Dean Jones; and Star Wars characters from the Carolina 501st Garrison.

“North Carolina has the third-largest gaming industry in the United States," museum spokeswoman Taneka Bennett said. "This is a great opportunity to expose today’s youth as well as adults to these fascinating and emerging fields."

Thousands attended the event on Saturday, which runs noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at 433 W. Murray Ave.

Durham-based Virtual Heroes is showing off its new Moonbase Alpha game, which uses cutting-edge 3-D immersive Internet technology and was made in conjunction with NASA.

Cary-based Red Storm Entertainment, which is owned by international game firm Ubisoft, is showing early, playable prototypes of games to demonstrate the process of conceptualizing and making video games.

Chapel Hill-based social game developer Merscom is demonstrating and discussing the role video games play in social media. Merscom is part of social game firm Playdom, creator of Mobsters, and recently released a new Facebook game “Purina Pet Resort.”

Meanwhile, Jones shows how he transforms people into zombies and make-up artists for films from Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Trek, visitors can spar with stunt choreographer David McClutchy, and Gary Destefano, an accomplished artist, science fiction diorama and model maker, presents his superhero and pop culture work.

Children ages one to four can also experiment with Tantrum Apps Fun's educational iPhone apps, and volunteer members of the Carolina 501st Garrison will be showing off Star Wars costumes throughout the museum grounds.