Melinda Van Hoomissen isn’t content with her second-place finish in the Ladies Tournament of the Big Buck Hunter World Championships in New York City.
Instead, she said she has two-time winner Sara Erlandson in her sights — and she’ll be training hard to take her down next year and bring the grand prize home to Vancouver.
“Sara owns a bar, and she was playing a lot on her own machine, but I’m not making excuses,” Van Hoomissen said. “We have a rivalry going now. I’m going to do better next year.”
The video game, played in bars, on consoles and even smartphones throughout the world, is a fast-paced shooter where players compete to have the cleanest, quickest kills of virtual animals. Play Mechanix, which makes Big Buck Hunter, has about 40,000 machines networked together in bars around the country.
Van Hoomissen netted a $1,500 prize with the second-place finish in the championship, held Nov. 9-11. She finished 21st in the main tournament, which includes both genders.
Last year, Van Hoomissen finished ninth in the woman’s tournament and 33rd overall.
“I definitely made a marked improvement in both,” she said. “And I feel like I was more in control of my nerves this time. Sometimes you get so pumped that you get shaky.”
Melinda and her husband, Scott Van Hoomissen, who have six kids, like to practice their Big Buck Hunter skills at Jake’s Bar & Grill, 4602 N.E. St. Johns Road. The crowd at the bar often roots them on, they said.
Scott Van Hoomissen didn’t do as well in this year’s world championships as he’d hoped. He ranked 42nd in the main tournament.
“I was worn out after the first night cheering for Melinda,” he said of his lower ranking. “I was more excited for her. I’m proud of her.”
But Melinda Van Hoomissen said there was a more simple explanation for her husband’s somewhat lackluster finish.
“He partook too much of the open bar this time,” she said with a laugh. “We’re going to work on that.”
She said she doesn’t drink anything but water when she’s playing in championship matches. It’s another story after the competition is over.
“It’s a fun party,” she said. “It’s a blast.”
The couple flew into New York on Nov. 7 during the Nor’easter blizzard that followed Hurricane Sandy. Manhattan seemed to be recovering from the destruction, but Melinda Van Hoomissen said she felt bad for the folks in New Jersey and other areas who were still struggling.
“I feel bad that we’re out here playing video games while people are suffering,” she said. “But the people in New York, they’re so friendly. They’ve been great.”
In response to the disaster, the tournament collected and matched donations up to $50,000 for American Red Cross relief efforts.
The couple plan to return to Vancouver today.