Pretending to be a warrior, a mage, or the captain leading intergalactic adventures can be a great way to escape the daily grind, but for participants in this weekend's Citywide Gaming Event the real fun was meeting other gamers and making new friends.

About 300 people turned out for the two-day event at six gaming stores in Colorado Springs that joined forces for the fifth year, displayed their favorite table-top games and held tournaments for board and card games.

"The event really helps encourage and promote gaming, lets everyone know where all the gaming stores are, and it's a great opportunity to meet people who share your interests and hobbies," said Shannon Liska, the event's coordinator.

Liska started Gaming Events in the Springs about five years ago after getting laid off from a systems engineer position. With plenty of time on her hands, she decided to get more involved with the gaming community and soon was running gaming groups, recruiting new members, introducing her friends to other gamers and organizing the first Citywide Gaming Event in 2009.

"It just seems like it's grown a little bit more every year," Liska said. "The first year we had maybe 100 people show up for the whole weekend. This year, we've had at least 300 and some stores barely had standing room, hosting tournaments until 4 a.m. It's been a great success."

At Petrie's Family Games on Hartsel Drive, off Lexington Drive and East Woodmen Road, there was a game in full swing at every table Sunday afternoon.

Don Thomas, 33, explained the complex rules of Star Trek: Attack Wing to Joe Gerstenschlager, 32, as the rest of their friends set up the playing field for the game, with multi-faceted dice and tiny spaceships. Thomas said that while video game graphics are visually appealing, the best part of gaming is spending time with old friends and making new ones.

"Social interaction is definitely the biggest draw, being able to play face-to-face is always better," Thomas said. "A video game is solitary. You just sit at a computer or in front of the TV talking to yourself."

As the success of the Citywide Gaming Event keeps growing every year, Liska said she hopes to turn it into a gaming convention next year.

She may have to start small and without a budget, but she's sure that the gaming community will come together to make her dream a reality.

"This is a thriving community in Colorado Springs and gamers are really enthusiastic, so we definitely hope to keep the ball rolling and watch it all come together into a great annual convention," Liska said.

For more info, visit Gaming Events in the Springs on Facebook at