Empire Arcadia plans to build a presence in other gaming scenes than just that of fighting games. Empire Arcadia retains tax status as a for-profit company. ("What type of Empire of Gamers competes only in one genre?" he asks me, and I'm not sure how to answer that one because, frankly, I don't even know what an Empire of Gamers is supposed to look like. Apparently, Empire player "Prodigy-X" won an In The Groove 2 competition at New York's Comic Con.)
For all of Empire Arcadia's competitive success, it is only one small part of what the Empire is about. "Basically, we develop the very culture and community of gamers by using various elements to express gaming, such as music, fashion, health, art, film, literature and even education," Triforce tells me.
I'm a little bit skeptical at first - health? - but a quick look at their press kit yields pictures from all kinds of Empire events. Besides running game events for larger conventions, like doing Gamer's Night Groove for the NY Comic Con or running tournaments at MAGFest, Empire has their fingers in all kinds of different pies. They've publicized short gaming films at local film festivals, held a Valentine's Day women's event called A Gamers Valentine, complete with the PMS Clan (Pandora's Might Soldiers) as the guests of the day, they've worked both formally and informally for Nintendo as a publicity street team, they've even managed to get Triforce on MTV Game0RZ Week, Power Glove in hand and everything. I ask about the "health" bit; turns out that Empire Arcadia is sponsored by a Vitamin Water company. "Vitamin Water has a genuine interest in the gamer community, especially because of the stereotype that gamers are fat and all. We wanted to find a health company that would help us express gaming through health," Triforce replies. "Guys like Prodigy - who plays DDR - needed a health drink to help him stay energized while playing. Justin drinks Vitamin Water before he hits the gym."
One of the more interesting anecdotes Triforce relates to me involves the Major League Gaming organization. While it's common knowledge that they've thrown some fairly large gaming events all across the country, it's less widely known that they've caught some heat in the fighting game community for failing to pay out tournament winnings. Triforce elaborates: "Well, at the time, MLG owed gamers throughout the different communities prize money. They even owed Justin and Ricky, gamers from the Empire. They owed Wes, from Deadly Alliance, for Smash Brothers, Jop for Tekken, and a whole lot of other gamers in other games. It became a huge thing in the community where gamers were complaining, but they didn't know what to do or how to do it. So the Empire decided to fix our problem and help the community. We got gamers representing each community that was owed money to go to MLG's headquarters, and we discussed with them how and when they were going to pay players that had been waiting as long as a year." I look in the press kit. They call this one "Defending the Empire." Triforce continues, "For the first month, checks started to come and we thought that everything was settled. We even got ours. But even now, some gamers have not gotten what they are owed."
This is all well and good - I certainly wouldn't mind some vitamin water sponsorship for The Escapist - but I'm still kind of bewildered as to what could have possibly motivated anyone to form this kind of organization. While it doesn't sound all that dissimilar, in some respects, from the machinations of any active college campus organization, I can't imagine what would have gone into putting together, say, an Empire Arcadia business plan. Triforce, of course, is more than happy to explain: "Before I filed for the company, we were just a small private community in the Bronx that just played videogames for fun and entertainment. After looking at the direction the industry was going in terms of the 'gamer culture,' I just felt that we could do more by writing letters to videogame mags and telling them what we wanted." I pause here for a moment. Something is sinking in, somewhere. Triforce continues. "As an official company, we would have a voice stronger than just a regular gamer's voice. Not to put down gamers around the world, but ask yourself, how much voice does a gamer have in the game industry?"