College Student Crowned Grand Emperor of MSN Gaming Zone

SEATTLE, Dec. 14, 1998 — After a month of fierce online competition, Matt Scadding, 23, of Guelph, Ontario, conquered hundreds of contestants to win the title of Grand Emperor, the best player of the
“Age of Empires® : The Rise of Rome” game on the Microsoft® MSN
Gaming Zone ( ). Scadding, who competes as
defeated three finalists in a dramatic, no-holds-barred championship match at Seattle’s Wizards of the Coast Game Center and now joins an elite circle of celebrity gamers, including Quake masters Dennis Fong, a k a
and Kurt Shimada, a k a

“I can’t believe I won,”
Scadding said, who when not playing
“Age of Empires”
is a student at the local university.
“It is such a thrill to meet the competition face to face. They’re all worthy competitors, and I’m sure this won’t be the last time we’ll be up against each other.”

The Rumble for Rome tournament pitted the top players of
“Age of Empires”
from the United States and Canada against each other in a fierce battle royal for a trip for two to Rome, $2,000 in cash and prizes and, of course, bragging rights.

“Age of Empires”
“Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome”
are two of the 10 best-selling PC games for the holidays.
“Age of Empires,”
developed by Dallas-based Ensemble Studios and published by Microsoft Corp., has been a best-selling PC game since its release in October 1997. The game was voted Multiplayer Game of the Year by Computer Gaming World magazine in 1997 and is the most popular CD-ROM-based game played on the MSN Gaming Zone. In October 1998, Microsoft released
“Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome”
expansion pack, which provides fans of
“Age of Empires”
with new challenges.

“Considering the popularity of ‘Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome’ and how many players competed, this is quite an achievement for ‘Maimin_Matty,'”
said Bruce Shelley of Ensemble Studios, co-designer of the
“Age of Empires”
game series.
“We saw some awesome gaming throughout the tournament, but Matt’s quick-strike gameplay ultimately earned him the title.”

Games fans, developers and celebrity gamers packed the house at Seattle’s Wizards of the Coast to witness the Rumble for Rome. More than 300 fans took in the action from the MSN Gaming Zone, which hosted live, blow-by-blow coverage of the tournament. The tournament began Nov. 14, when hundreds of contestants converged on the MSN Gaming Zone for a chance to win the title of Grand Emperor. After nine rounds of play, the field was narrowed to four finalists: Richard Bishop (competing as
) from Murfreesboro, Tenn., Kevin Holme (competing as
) from Arden Hills, Minn., Tom Tran (competing as
) from Hayward, Calif., and Scadding from Guelph, which is near Toronto. Each of the finalists was flown to Seattle by tournament co-sponsor American Airlines to compete in the final championship round. Canadian Airlines will fly Scadding and a guest to Rome.

The Rumble for Rome marks the first corporate-sponsored tournament hosted on the Zone.
“With the growing popularity of online gaming, we wanted to produce a tournament for our community that would bring them together in a fun, competitive environment,”
said Adam Waalkes, product unit manager for the MSN Gaming Zone.
“The overwhelming response from competitors in this tournament is proof positive of its popularity, and we plan to host more tournaments like this in the future.”

About the MSN Gaming Zone

The MSN Gaming Zone ( ) is a leading online gaming service that puts the social aspect back into computer games by bringing people together from around the world to meet and compete against each other. With over 3 million registered members and over 22,000 concurrent users at peak times, the Zone is one of the largest gaming communities on the Internet. The Zone offers free* membership and a wide variety of games, including free* card, board and puzzle games; free* matchmaking for popular CD-ROM games; and premium games designed specifically for
“massively multiplayer”
gaming on the Internet. In addition, the MSN Gaming Zone has teamed with others to offer its members expanded gaming services such as industry news, product reviews, downloadable demos, online shopping and a broader range of online games.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

* Connect-time charges may apply.

Microsoft, Age of Empires and MSN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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