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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Blockbuster Chain Hosting Video Game Championship

Ward Sanderson Correspondent

If the youngsters in your family spend hours wowed by Nintendo or Sega games, don’t lose all hope. If they’re really good, their voracious video habit just might help pay for college.

The Blockbuster Video chain is hosting its Blockbuster World Video Game Championship II. Store champions will win a year’s worth of free game rentals. OK, that might not advance their education much. But the 11 worldwide champions will receive a $5,000 scholarship or savings bond.

Players are judged in two categories: age 12 and younger or 13 and older. There’s no age limit.

“It’s basically geared toward kids. Most are 12-17, but if you’re 35 and want to play, go for it,” says Ann Crispi, a spokeswoman for the event.

But be warned. The youngsters mean business.

“They’re hard-core. They live and die for stuff - they practice all year,” Crispi says.

Entrants can play their choice of NBA Jam or Judge Dredd on the Sega Genesis or Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo game system. Last year, 230,000 entrants zapped, jumped and dunked for the big prize.

This time around, the Blockbuster chain expects about a half-million players to enter. They expanded the event to include nine countries.

Players can test their hand-eye coordination at one or more tournaments until they’re happy with their score. There’s no entry fee.

Participants must go to any Blockbuster location and fill out an entry blank and parental release. Competitions are held now through July 9. Play times are Wednesdays from 4 to 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The game finals happen during August in San Francisco.

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