MORE than just a showcase of brand-new computer hardware and gaming competitions, the Cyber Expo is an initiative to promote responsible online gaming among the youth.

"We want to make online gaming above ground; we want to professionalize it, because in some countries like South Korea , online gamers are treated like athletes," said Kitsi Avila of E-Squared Events -- organizer of this year's Davao Cyber Expo 2010 (along with partner Blinque Tech) that will be held this coming July 23-25 at the SM-Davao Event Center.

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Kitsi, son of former long-time City Councilor Leo Avila, said that there are a lot of youth engaged in underground cyber game gambling, which is playing online games with placed bets.

"We want to have competitions that will veer them away from cyber-game gambling. We want cyber gaming to be wholesome and fun," Avila said.

Aside from gambling, promoting a responsible gaming culture can also influence them away from internet pornography, cyber stalking and other vices like drugs.

Davao Cyber Games or DCG is one of the highlights of the three day expo as teams from Davao, some parts of Mindanao and a team from Manila will battle it out in different gaming platforms like DOTA, Call of Duty 4,5,6, Battlefield 2, Dirt 2 and Bad Company 2.

In the tournament the champion team will be awarded with P25,000 in cash with giveaways from Intel.

A total of 45 teams or about 230 players have participated in the elimination rounds of the event. During the Expo proper a total of 8 quarterfinalists will vie for the top prize.

Kitsi said that they will be using an arena-type arrangement where players particularly in the DOTA tournament will go onstage to play in the middle of an audience just like watching sports like basketball or boxing.

Meanwhile, Lester Avila, president of E-Squared said that aside from DCG, major events in the Expo will include the much-awaited Tech Xtreme- a unique tech exhibit of high-end personal computer components and accessories, LAN Party Extreme- a gathering of the best computers in Davao it also features a competition on PC modding, performance and online gaming.

Tech Xtrme is like a car show, except that here instead of cars we have our modified computers. Lester Avila said.

There are also events like blogging contests and a cosplay show with live bands and booths of various exhibitors and partners strategically placed at the SM event center.

Lester added that more and more sponsors and exhibitors are coming in this expo. During its initial staging in 2007, there were only 5 exhibitors, this year will have 22 booths representing a wide array of sales and services related to personal computers.

"They realized that it has been a great marketing strategy to be in the cyber expo. We've had brands whose sales jumped after they exhibited their products here. Right now, we even had to turn down some potential exhibitors because of lack of space," Lester said.

He added that the Davao Cyber Expo is growing every year with more locators, gamers and visitors coming to the to the expo area. Lester said that Cyber Expo’s vision is to have an active cyber community which fits in line with Davao being the top IT city in the country. (PIA)