DEVASTATION’s Robb Chiarini discusses event cancellation with The Pause Button

4 10 2012

DEVASTATION, the gaming event that hosted several thousands over the course of an October weekend in Phoenix last year, was undoubtedly one of the biggest gaming events the state has seen. Since then the event team had gone quiet, player rumblings and rumors of payouts circulated, and very little information was given on whether or not the tournament would make its return in 2012. On Wednesday, DEVASTATION director Robb Chiarini made a public announcement that the event would not be happening this year.

In the announcement, Chiarini explained how the 2011 event had failed to pay out some winners due to a sudden sponsor drop out and that his own efforts to rectify the situation by selling his comic collection had resulted in further issues.

Chiarini also elaborated in the video that he and his team have worked to contact unpaid players and eventually settle all the loose ends from the 2011 event. Shortly after the video was released, Chiarini spoke with The Pause Button further on the announcement and what this would mean for the team, the players, and the future of the event.

Robb Chiarini with DEVASTATION crew at Bookmans video game tournament. Photo courtesy of DEVASTATION.

The Pause Button: You finally announced a cancellation of this year’s DEVASTATION, why wait so long?

Robb Chiarini: Couple reasons, there was still discussion on potentially still doing an event and remaining sponsors who wanted to collaborate but there just wasn’t enough to do it…. …I didn’t feel like I would be giving enough attention to the event this year and this would give us the opportunity to get our stuff handled from last year and go forward. 

The Pause Button: Can you elaborate on what actually went on during last year’s event to create these payout issues?

Robb Chiarini: Well back in 2010 a sponsor didn’t pay out. We had a contract, they came, attended the event, and then never paid up so that was a bit of a hit. Then in 2011 we had a sponsor set up and some things went sideways on their end. We had no actual contract signed but promises were made and by the time they ducked out, it was a week before DEVASTATION so it was too soon to just put a stop to the whole thing. I’m not faulting them for what happened, it just sucks that it happened that way.

After that I thought ‘Alright I’m gonna fix this’ and took my entire comic collection and set it up for a sale with a buyer [to pay off debts from the event]. Some back and forth went through but in the end, they welshed, took my collection, and I was like ‘Okay, now I don’t really have anything to offer up.’

…We’re still working on paying off those expenses. It’s slow, but I’m still doing it little by little.

The Pause Button: How much of DEVASTATION 2011’s player payouts and expenses have yet to be paid?

Robb Chiarini: All the expenses for the venue, things like that, are paid. For the player payouts I can’t really get too into that but tens of thousands of dollars [still need to be paid].

Latif and Justin Wong during Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition finals at DEVASTATION 2011. Photo by The Pause Button.

The Pause Button: How would you respond to critics and players who feel your announcement and promises were insincere?

Robb Chiarini: Well if I hold up a blue pen and say it’s blue, people will still come up and argue it’s purple if they want to. They are welcome to have their opinion of me and the event but it doesn’t change what I have said. Sure we had issues with some player payouts in 2010 with filling out forms and stuff and now with this issue for the 2011 event, but we still have a history of taking care of players beyond that. We’ve been around since 2005 and have done good things since then.

The video was a way for me to tell the public straight from the heart what was going on. They didn’t know the financial stuff that was going on. Everyone who needed to know about the issues with payouts [the players] were notified a month after the 2011 event and we have made sure to keep in contact with them about it. The reaction overall [to the video] has been supportive and positive, but everyone is welcome to their own opinion. …I just stood in front of the camera and told my story; I feel like it was very genuine.

Continue on to read Robb’s thoughts on continuing the event and the current state of the Arizona gaming scene.

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