Epaulets, Hard-Plastic C-Cups, and a Superhero Cop

NCsoft's gaming love-in

Experts estimate Austin's crime rate will hit 0% with the publication of this rare photograph of the Defuser (l) and Gen. British.
Experts estimate Austin's crime rate will hit 0% with the publication of this rare photograph of the Defuser (l) and Gen. British.
Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Walking into Dave & Buster's, I scan the big-screened palace for signs of local video-game developer NCsoft's soiree and find none of the cues that signal a congregation of gamers. A short walk ultimately leads to a sign for NCsoft and a table for name-tagging and game-affiliating. An available lanyard reads, "Bob, player of Lineage and City of Heroes." I opt, in a fit of journalistic integrity, to remain neutral.

NCsoft employee and local gaming mastermind Richard Garriott stands in costume as his character, Gen. British (beret, epaulets, cowboy boots, etc.), answering questions about his latest creation, Tabula Rasa (see "Cooperative Play," Aug. 31). A woman dressed as Ghost Widow from City of Villains hovers next to him, unsmiling in black leather with white, hard-plastic C-cups and shoulder spikes. A cheer erupts when Garriott reminisces about the time he was called the "satanic perverter of America's youth" during the role-playing-game scare of the Eighties. Those were the days, when gamers were pagans and everyone else had no vision to see a world where the majority of people plays some manner of video game.

Sitting behind a table was the superman of the hour, Jarrett Crippen, aka the Defuser. Winner of the second season of the Sci Fi channel's Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, the Austin Police Department's Det. Crippen flawlessly balanced his two identities: a 6-foot-5-inch, hulking, black-and-blue-spandex-clad hero and an average joe happily posing with fans. Posing with women in his arms or flexing solo, the Defuser never tired. The reality show's creator, Stan Lee, in his infinite wisdom, has chosen well.

Next to the Defuser's only slightly more popular table sat the development teams behind many of NCsoft's most popular games. And while not costumed, there was no shortage of admiration thrown their way at what was slowly revealing itself to be a gaming love-in. If not behind tables, these hero designers mingled with ease.

As the evening drew to a close, people began jockeying for position at the front of the room as free stuff arced into the leaping crowd. The Defuser, noticing injustice no doubt, stepped onto the stage and effortlessly liberated swag to the ignored fans at the back of the room.

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