I had the great pleasure of attending the first annual ScrewAttack Gaming Convention during the 2009 Fourth of July weekend. ScrewAttack (it's not a porno site!) has been hyping and promoting this event since last October. Did it live up to our expectations? Let's see!
Attending as a member of the press, registration was easy and we even got our own room, adjacent to the Gameworks arcade. Despite their being at least 30 press members, only us and one other group seemed to be aware of that room. Maybe they just didn't notice it (or we all smell... your choice.)
The extra space was helpful for podcasting and preparing for interviews. Thanks a lot to Stuttering Craig and the rest of the SA crew for their various contributions and witty bits! I especially appreciated Corey checking in on us several times to make we had what we needed.
The highlight of Friday July 3rd was the keynote by Nolan Bushnell. His tale of the rise and fall of Atari was well told and made the audience wistful upon hearing his regrets. These include not investing in Apple and selling Atari to Time Warner (how that turned out can be summed up easy... E.T.) The tales were sad but Nolan's well known sense of humor made them somehow less painful for fans who remember the greatness of Atari.
Keith Apicary crashed the event and ran up to give Nolan a hug. I'm not sure if Nolan knew about it, but he sure looked surprised. What a good sport! The first of the many great Keithisms (or would Apithets be better?) is telling Nolan that he would make sure to live to the age of 2600, which generated a great reaction.
Angel, the director of awesomeness, had a fun time throughout the event rallying the crowd with chants of SGC, with a crowd response of Whoa several times. One could not help but get enthusiastic. By the end of the event, his voice was hoarse from so much of getting people going.
Day 2 was perhaps the most jam-packed day with the highly anticipated appearance of Jack Thompson and the AVGN. Having press passes was a great boon, as the attendance for both events was very high. First, Jack Thompson.
The QA showed that he is a man who has been unfairly characterized by the unscrupulous individuals, both in the news and gaming media. When you are as passionate about a cause as he is, this leads to conflict between opponents representing different sides. None of his attacks on gaming feel like a personal matter. I'm not saying his concern is solely for his fellow man, but I believe him when he says that he just wants to get inappropriate content out of underaged hands.
The debate with Mark Methenitis was mostly a regurgitation of Thompson's points in the Q and A. Too bad Destin couldn't manage to pronounce Mark's name right. As with Amicus curiae, he admitted that he has to work on pronunciation more in the future.
I enjoyed the debate and while I didn't really learn much, just being at such a pivotal event felt like a great experience.
The funniest story I have involves the Angry Video Game Nerd. While James Rolfe arrived around 3pm on Saturday, I didn't see him before his panel. Or so I thought. I went into the arcade room and saw a different game placed in the full screen Gameboy display, similar to the ones from department stores when the unit was new. The game had been switched to Mega Man 5 (which I didn't know could work in the original GB.)
The point was that it was James that was playing it. Having had a conversation with him before I realized who he was just goes to prove that he is a very cool and laidback guy. Another bit is that Original-Gamer.com really would have liked to interview him and if I had asked him then, he probably would have had time, and we some great material. Oh well. I guess I just have to learn to swoon on celebrities better. After all, we treat celebrities better because they're better people!
James' panel was a great time, with Angel leading the crowd in singing the Nerd's theme song. We learned about his two cats and the laser pen from the Atari Jaguar video. Let's hope the 2nd cat makes an appearance soon! I was pleased to find out that he has 3 SNESes and that it is his favorite system of all time. Between that and Final Fantasy VI being one of his favorite games, he is a man after my own heart. Moving on.
Keith Apicary also wandered in. Wandered is an apt way to describe it, as his vision was diminished by the Virtual Boy on his head! The Nerd was a good sport and played the horror for the crowd one more time for about 2 minutes, as his vision naturally started to hurt. I agree with Keith, the VB is the future!
A lot of people attended the autograph section, which resulted in a very long line. I read in a fellow SGC blog that someone bought a case of 50 NES games and wanted the Nerd to sign them. I would have loved to see the look on his face before he realized it was a joke!
My most anticipated event was the rave in the main GPX game room, which started at 12:30 am. The disappointment was the forum threads that led many to believe that video game music would be played on the DJ's playlist. No such luck. The event was saved by some classic trance tunes, like Call on Me by Eric Prydz. The tribute to Michael Jackson really got the 50+ crowd moving. Keith Apicary was a great dancer and really got the crowd going with his unique dance moves (which he later told us was mostly just made up on the spot.) Also for the ladies, he's jacked!
The rave lasted until 4 am and I called it a day/night. Day 3 was mostly just a wrap-up with a Keith Apicary Q and A. Being a huge Sega fan, he was glad to learn about the JVC X-Eye, called the Wondermega in Japan (both of which are unique takes of the Sega CD/Genesis combo). The Screwattack crew was glad for the day to be wrapping up as it gave them time to play some games against all challengers. Harlem faced Destin and Angel in Killer Instinct, leading to some exciting and very close matches.
In all, SGC was a great event, from the impeccable style of the presentation (uniquely Screwattack!) to the antics of Keith and the cosplayers. A Frank West jumped into the fray to snap some quick pictures of a Yuna cosplayer, who wasn't quite expecting it. Some other G1's wanted in on it very reasonably, but then the shoot would have gone from the erotica to horror category. Great stuff!
I definitely recommend this con to any fan of video games. Let's get ready for an even greater time next year at SGC, Go GameAttack!