Sunday, August 22 2010
The day didn’t start how it should have: Trying to be on an early train I forgot my cellphone on the way, and of course as I wanted to meet Mark (of Adventure Gamers), I couldn’t contact him if something went wrong with the train system (which it usually does).
Fortunately the trains were all on time, so I got to the fair area, i.e. the north entrance hall for the press as I didn’t want to push my way through the crowd that early on. Now Mark wasn’t there and I couldn’t reach him. But there were some computers upstairs I could use to leave a message on facebook, mainly that I’ll be waiting and could check again later if he left a message.
Now what was really funny was the “security” woman who always checked the press badges. She was of the opinion that they weren’t valid today, because in her mind it was already the 23rd. It took some time of convincing her that it wouldn’t make much sense to have a press badge for the 23rd because the last day of the Gamescom was today. Sometimes I guess you get those stubborn people who have nothing better to do than to convince you they’re right, even if they are absolutely wrong.
Anyway, soon after Mark arrived, and we set off on our T-Shirt-goodies-grabbing-tour.
We heard that there was a Nintendo stand where you could get a cool Mario-shirt. The only thing you had to do was to get inside a booth (even better: you didn’t have to perform in front of other people) and agree that your actions/words/face can be used for promoting the Wii or something. Only problem was that you had to be on a list. The list was already full the day before, and it was when we arrived, again. So they told us there would be another one around 1 pm or so (it was around 10-11). Press badges didn’t mean anything.
So we said goodbye to the stand for a while and went to another Nintendo stand, one I already got a T-Shirt with the “Nintendo Gametester” print on it, because I borrowed a Nintendo DS and a cartridge right at the beginning of the Gamescom (without knowing they gave me the older version of “Professor Layton” which was useless for a preview-video). Only problem was: We could only get one, because they didn’t accept Mark’s driver’s licence (you had to give them some ID). But they were nice enough to give us two shirts afterwards anyway when I got “Diddy Kong Racing”. Funny thing was: I got the only malfunctioning DS which couldn’t be turned off. A short first impressions you can watch here…
Still it was nice talking to the booth girls who already looked pretty tired after so much standing and talking to annoying kids.
After that, we went to our two favorite stands: DTP with Black Mirror III and Gray Matter + Warner Bros with Super Scribblenauts. At DTP we left some cookies for everyone whose feet and voices were pretty much damaged throughout the event, at Warner Bros we left one of the T-Shirts. But what was more important than the goodies we gave or received (like some key rings of F.E.A.R. 3 and Super Scribblenauts) was the conversations we had with the employees.
I have to admit that I’ve never been a big fan of the Gamescom itself with all this queuing going on. Last year I went to the Bpjm and USK (responsible for the rating of games) to talk about censorship of games in Germany. This was much more satisfying that standing in line for hours to just see a trailer or have a quick glimpse at a game the demo you could already download.
Of course the Games Convention in Leipzig wasn’t any better in terms of the big noise and the crowds, but at least the term “convention” rang much more true of what it was about: getting together and talking about one’s favorite hobby.
Now maybe the conversations with most of the booth men and women were not always about the games, not really work-related, but it was nice to actually talk to someone who knew what they were doing (in contrast to some people at EA or the other Nintendo stand where you had to sign up on the list). Of course I sometimes wondered if we weren’t intruding too much (as we hung out there a lot the other days), but it just felt good not being bombarded with press news or promotional stuff.
Now after so much nice talking to even nicer people we went back to the Nintendo stand, trying to get again on the list for the “Tube”-Video-thing to get that damn shirt. But we were too early, and of course they wouldn’t put us on the list, even with a press badge. What they told us was that we would better play those games in the booth, because it would be faster if we knew the basics. So apparently we had to play the games before they let us in.
Of course if you want to play a game at the Gamescom, especially one of Nintendo, you had to wait, and wait, and wait in a long queue. Now this queue for Super Mario Bros Wii wasn’t long, but it took some time… until we saw that you not only had to learn the basics, but had to have a complete make-up put on your face before entering the Tube. This looked much more like the Clearface-Girls-event so we said “Fuck it” and went away.
I don’t know if it was before or after the booth tour, but we definitely decided to go outside the Gamescom area and get something to eat somewhere at the train station. It’s a good thing to have a press badge, so you can leave any time you want, unlike the regular visitor pass for each day where you had to buy the enormously priced food inside the event area.
We also checked out “Instant Jam”, an awesome program for Facebook and other social networks that made use of the guitar-rhythm-action-genre like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but with your own MP3-library. But what we saw there, is another story entirely, involving one very talented female pro gamer and an interview session I had with her. To be continued in the next blog entry…
On our way to the train station we also got another coffeine sugar rush with more Coke. Only this time you actually had to perform some promotion thing to get the drink. Mark did it and I filmed it. It was basically him hanging on a rope (with a very nice-looking girl, btw) and looking into a camera. It was shot with the green-background-effects-thingy they use in action movies and such. I didn’t know that first, so it looked a bit weird:
Getting back we realized the Gamescom was coming to an end, meaning people going home… okay, so this was actually happening more to the end, like 5 pm or so (because it closed around 6). The business area was already closed, so no massages anymore :(:
But before we hit the street we had to check out Microsoft’s “new” Kinect technology which is more or less a further development of th Eyetoy Sony did before, so that you had to move in front of the TV screen to interact with the gaming environment. Or in layman terms: Make a fool out of yourself, as these two examples illustrate:
I especially liked the failed attempts of the hip hoppers to look cool. They really sucked in comparison to the amazing dance moves of the booth girl. That girl got real dance moves skills!
But of course the day wasn’t over yet…so we decided to go see a movie, a good thing that Cologne has some nice cinemas which have the original versions. First stop was the Kölner Filmhaus which had the latest Coen-Brothers-flick on, then there was also the Metropolis with the newest Angelina Jolie movie “Salt”. After some sugar rush of the delicious McFlurry Chocolate ice cream stuff…
…we also went to the Cinedom which unfortunately didn’t show any movies in English, but which had a rather good arcade game: The Star Wars Trilogy.
Okay, it didn’t look very up-to-date, but it reminded me of the times I played “Rebel Assault” back in the days when you bought it together with a CD-ROM device. What was even better: Someone left the coins inside so I could play for free. But of course we put some more coins in it, because it was fun anyway.
After that we went to get some beer, some Kölsch, even though both of us didn’t really like the taste of beer. But what the heck… it made us realize we were in the mood for some Angelina Jolie action, and the movie really turned out to be rather good, even though it was more expensive than I thought (7 Euros, because it was on a weekend, usually it’s 4-5). I don’t know if it was the alcohol, or if the movie was really that good. But it was entertaining and not boring at all.
After that I had to wait for my first train of course… which was something around 1 am or so. So we hit Burger King… but that wasn’t really something to talk about. Or maybe just those strange people with a boom box getting in and then leaving… it was weird, I just can’t remember why.
Then it was about saying goodbye, Mark heading back to his hotel and me waiting for the first train around 3 am in Aachen… something I would be used to the next days.
Because two days later there was the Fantasy Film Fest… another event to write lots of blog entries about…