COLUMBIA — Bret Pudenz wasn't in class. He was playing video games.
Pudenz, a senior computer science major at MU, stared at a flat screen television. On occasion, he would jerk his controller to the right or left, as if his movement could direct the ball into the net.
Pudenz and a group of 15 other FIFA-crazed compatriots were participating in FIFA's Soccer 12 Takeover Tour. The tour stopped at Shakespeare's Pizza in Columbia on Wednesday and allowed video gamers to play EA Sports' latest version of FIFA soccer. Pudenz won this 16-player tournament.
Those gamers who were eliminated in earlier rounds, which took place on computer monitors at tables under a tent in the parking lot of Shakespeare's Pizza, huddled around the FIFA conversion van parked next to the tent. For the final, Pudenz and his opponent played on a a flat screen TV, about three-feet wide, protruding out of the back of the van. Some of the eliminated players had cell phones in hand taking pictures, while others yelled "Go Man City!" or "You guys are acting like this is a championship or something."
Pudenz laughed after the championship comment, realizing that he was playing for the title of unofficial best FIFA gamer in Columbia.
He saw the event advertised on Facebook about a week ago but didn't really think much about it.
"Yeah, it was kinda a last minute thing," Pudenz said.
Pudenz didn't need much practice, however. He relied, instead, on motivation. He joked about having to win this tournament after his brother, Tyler Pudenz, won a FIFA tournament at the MU Bookstore earlier this semester. While there hasn't been any throwing of controllers, the brothers did admit that things can get a little heated during and after games they play against each other.
"It's a pretty big deal in our household because we got two other brothers. So, we all kinda go back and forth, a lot of trash talking," Tyler Pudenz said.
The brothers often play tournament style games, Bret Pudenz said.
As far as who is better at FIFA, the brothers were noncommittal.
"It's probably about fifty-fifty," Tyler Pudenz said.
Byron Roundtree and Dean Revels from Revolution Sports Marketing drive the FIFA 12 van to mostly college towns throughout the country. This was the first time the tour came to Columbia, however.
Roundtree said the tour usually visit towns in conjunction with sports events.
"We've done a lot of NCAA football games. We've also done a couple of NFL or MLS games," he said.
Roundtree said the hard part of doing these tours is the short time frame, especially when they only visit a city for one day.
"You'll have your days when you're bone tired," he said.
Roundtree joked that he can't complain that much because he gets to drive a FIFA van around, meaning Roundtree and Revels can stop by the side of the road and play a game of FIFA when they're tired of driving.
Roundtree said it's a random thing.
"I stop in the middle of traffic, open my van up, and me and my partner jump out and we get a game in," he said.